“Thus says the Lord: act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place.” – Jeremiah 22:3
by Wendy Davidson, 2020 Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that God demands that we rescue those being unfairly compensated, that we do no harm to the foreigner, orphan, or widow, and that we put no innocent lives at risk. Particularly during this time of COVID-19 crisis, refugees and immigrants are many of the unfairly compensated, innocent foreigners whose lives are at risk. Particularly during this time of COVID-19 crisis, we who are faithful must do what we can to answer Jeremiah’s call.
Both the Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries (working more domestically) and Week of Compassion (working both domestically and globally) minister in partnership with those who know best their own needs, learning and growing with and from others, in order to respond to Jeremiah’s call to do this good and just work. And there’s a lot of good and just work that still needs doing.
Week of Compassion works alongside Church World Service and other global partners to help those living in refugee camps to attain water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), which have only become more important during the time of pandemic. With so many people living in close proximity, social distancing is often not possible, elevating the importance of clean water and soap for handwashing, needs that (along with food security) Week of Compassion has prioritized during the COVID-19.
Domestically, many refugees and immigrants work at meat packing plants or as farm workers, who have repeatedly expressed that “we’re scared” but “we’re expected to keep going,” oftentimes without appropriate PPE. Agricultural workers have experienced significant outbreaks, and some of the very worst outbreaks in the US have occurred at meatpacking plants. These workers, essential to the food supply chain in the US, have voiced their concerns and have yet to be heard. (Image Source)
Amidst all of the COVID-19 concern, there is another group of immigrants whose fate is currently being decided, but has gone alarmingly unnoticed: the Dreamers. These DACA recipients currently await a ruling from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the DACA executive order. In the midst of stress and anxiety caused by a global pandemic, this decision, expected to be made sometime in June 2020, adds an undue burden of stress and anxiety for these young people and threatens to rip families apart.
The COVID-19 crisis has not created these injustices, but rather illuminated them. So often, the weight of disaster falls disproportionately on those already struggling under the weight of poverty. From the COVID-19 crisis to climate change, the most vulnerable among us are often the ones most radically affected.
But there is hope. Week of Compassion’s Erin Wathen says that she sees hope “where people are working together as a community” to effect positive change, in the adaptability and resilience of those ministries working to combat injustices exacerbated in the wake of COVID-19, in those who are giving financially to help address some of these needs.
So What Can You Do?
- Support refugees: World Refugee Day is this month, June 20, 2020 (and Refugee Welcome Sunday is June 21)! LIFT UP refugees in your churches. You can even use pre-prepared material from the Refugee Welcome Sunday Toolkit. Incorporate this material into the service or ask your pastor to include it. PRAY for refugees and that many churches will lift up refugees together. GIVE financially to Week of Compassion, if you can.
- Support farm and meat-packing workers: CALL your US legislators to support protections – including adequate PPE and testing, healthcare, sick leave, and a living wage – for these essential workers (Call (202)224-3121 or go to https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/ to find the contact information for your legislators). You can also SIGN this letter, advocating that these workers receive reasonable benefits, especially while they put themselves in harm’s way.
- Support DACA recipients: LISTEN to DACA leaders’ experiences and the importance of DACA by joining the “Monday Morning DACA Prayers” Mondays from 9:30 to 10 AM Eastern (Register here), before the Supreme Court meets to make decisions each week; listen to more stories at homeishere.us. RING DACA BELLS FOR JUSTICE the day after the Supreme Court decision at noon. As a church or faith community, ring any bells on the property. As an individual, find a bell and ring it on your porch or in a public street, to “gather the faithful” to pray and respond, call attention to the impacts of the decision, and advocate for permanent protections for DACA recipients. Then at 1 PM Eastern, the day after the decision, JOIN THE VIRTUAL RALLY (test DACADECISION to 877-877 for more information) to show your support for DACA recipients.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION: View the Thursday, June 11, 2020, discussion.
For ANY concerns related to refugees, immigrants, or asylum seekers, please contact Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, [email protected], via phone or text 202-957-7826
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