Current EventsMissional Life

The Anti-Gospel of Immigration Activism and American Prosperity

By June 16, 2018 One Comment

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Several months ago, Time magazine published an article titled, Smugglers Inc.

The author quotes a female coyote, which is another name for human smuggler, as she discusses her “work”:

Other coyotes don’t care, they’ll just take the money and leave them, robbed or whatever. She flips through her digital ­scrapbook to find a woman who arrived in tears. “She had been raped, and had an infection.” A trip to the hospital was arranged. “And this blond woman says she was raped also. The coyote in the jungle separated her from the group and told her she couldn’t move forward until she slept with him.

Latin American people, along with other ethnic groups, many of them women, risk their lives and pay large amounts of money to Latino coyotes to pay off the cartel. Once they do make it across the border, they are still at the mercy of smugglers, operating and moving them around the U.S.

On June 14, 2018, special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)  responded to a call from a local Texas law enforcement agency requesting assistance on a possible human smuggling situation. They discovered 54 smuggled illegal immigrants inside a tractor trailer. Inside the trailer were men, women and children from four countries: Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. Had law enforcement agents not discovered this trailer, all of their lives would have been lost as they baked in that trailer under the hot Texas sun. The smuggler was caught and arrested, but not before all the money those immigrants paid the smuggler was gone, never to be recouped by those that sacrificed what little they had to pay a smuggler to load them into their coffin to die.

These horrific instances show how no one should trust their lives — or the lives of their loved ones — to these criminal organizations.”, says Special Agent in Charge Shane M. Folden, HSI San Antonio.

Women are being raped while traveling to enter the U.S illegally. If they are traveling with their children, their children are probably forced to watch the violence.

Women At Risk International writes:

The exploitation of Latina, particularly Mexican, women begins even before they arrive in the United States, approximately one third are poor Latin Americans sold to factories, fields, or brothels (Prostitution Research). Economic desperation at home and unintelligible U.S. immigration laws drive many women to illegally cross the border with human smugglers known as coyotes. Upon arrival in the U.S., the coyote may tell the woman she owes him an extraordinary debt for the passage and must work to pay off the debt. Several coyotes are traffickers who work with pimps in the U.S., luring women with promises of jobs only to sell them into prostitution. Some Latina women are sold to field brothels, sexual slavery camps on the edges of agricultural fields. In one fairly typical case, caves made of reeds housed several young girls for prostitution. Their even younger children were held hostage so that the young mothers would not try to escape. Every day, hundreds of farm workers were transported to these camps for sex, considered a reward for a job well done (SPLC).

Even if Latina women avoid the schemes of traffickers, few manage to cross the border without experiencing some form of sexual violence. Women planning to cross the border often start taking birth control, expecting to be raped at least once during the crossing (SPLC). Some coyotes consider the sexual assault and prostitution of women crossing over as a part of their payment for safe passage. Trees along the U.S.-Mexico border, called rape trees by some, testify to the validity of the women’s fear. The branches are dotted with the panties of women raped during the crossing, the tattered underwear displayed by abusers looking to show off their conquest to passersby (Latina News).

Through our activist demands for the federal government to let anyone come in freely, with no penalty, we are accomplices to putting money in the pockets of everyone that these women encounter as they travel up backdoor corridors into the U.S.

Human smugglers and corrupt foreign police are exploiting these impoverished women. Through our cries of injustice, demands for amnesty, scholarships for Dreamers, and everything else we promote and denounce in the name of “loving our neighbors” we put seeds of hope in the minds of people in Latin America and other countries to sell their little plots of land and all their livelihood, endure rape, hardship, hunger, dehydration, all for the sake of making it across the southern border to attain the prosperity that comes with being in America, being an American, and living like an American.

For those that finally make it across the border and are then apprehended by federal law enforcement officials, that is the only time we, the American public and American Christians are willing to stand on our social media soapbox and cry “evil”.

According to Jerry Slack, a researcher who has spent years interviewing immigrants in Mexico and a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, states that border crossing is more dangerous today. He states that illegal immigration is controlled and run by drug cartels, which function as a regulatory mechanism that sets the rules. Smuggling people has become professionalized with the cartels basically owning all that happens on the borders.

National Review Online writes:  Ana Quintana, a research on Latin America for the Heritage Foundation who visited Honduras, tells NRO she has learned from Honduran officials that “coyotes,” have created a massive campaign built on spreading the idea that illegal immigrants will be allowed to stay in America. And now what’s been happening is the coyotes recognize that the person might necessarily not make it through the first time or they might get sent back, so they’re not just offering one-way passages anymore,” she says. “It’s kind of like, you pay a flat rate and you’ll get three opportunities to be guided to the United States.” Quintana says she has heard that the coyotes offer the Central Americans contraception for the journey because it’s expected that up to 70 percent of the female travelers will be sexually violated at some point along the journey. She says new coyotes have begun popping up left and right.

But, we will not hear any form of outrage on that part of illegal immigration. Christians, for the most part, stay quiet and place all of their anger and frustration on what happens on this side of the border, specifically as it pertains to American intervention, completely ignoring what happens to these people before they step foot in the U.S.

THAT is mournful. THAT is what we should repent of.

Immigrants are invisible to us until, and only until, they arrive on our country’s doorstep. That is a travesty.

For those outraged at what is happening at the border, it appears they are falling prey to an agenda that is bigger than their anger. These women and children were victims prior to reaching the border. If we truly cared about these families, we should really consider alternative solutions.

Why not take a few brave souls from your church to a border town IN Mexico, to minister to some of these families, women, and children, because the reality is, that is where many of these families are at, waiting to come across. Not knowing how long they will be at these border towns, many of them become homeless or end up living in make shift homes made out of pallets or cardboard.

Several years ago, when our family moved to Texas to do border mission work, I helped connect an American home-building ministry with several Mexican churches in a town on the other side of the border to establish a presence there, for the goal of meeting the needs of those living in sub-standard living conditions. A few years prior to that, instead of going on a family vacation, we did some research on Mexico short term mission opportunities and ended up leading 30 people from our church to go with us to build a couple of homes for 2 impoverished families. The first time our family made that trip across the border, my son was not even 2 years old. I strapped him on my back and off we went. Gather some church folks, research and connect with reputable ministries, then head across the border to build a house or participate in some sort of mission trip, short or long term.

Or why not become a missionary to a Central American country, helping to provide better methods of sustainable practices that help families and communities holistically. Sadly, in many of these countries the prosperity gospel has taken root and millions upon millions have never heard of the gospel that says salvation through Christ is enough. The people need to hear the real gospel primarily, not the one that promotes prosperity by any means necessary. Latino Christians, as well as other gospel motivated ethnic groups have an opportunity toinvolve nationals from the beginning because they are just as called to the Great Commission as North American missionaries”.

Get involved with reputable missions organizations, like International Mission Board (Southern Baptist). 

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Or….. check out the Missions to the World map to see who is already in country through the PCA to possibly partner with them. (Presbyterian presence in Mexico), (Presbyterian presence in Northern Central America), (Presbyterian presence in Southern Central America),

It is necessary to clarify “reputable” because America has done a fabulous job exporting the prosperity gospel to impoverished countries, promoting the idea that America is their prosperity. That must end. We need gospel focused missionaries, not prosperity gospel missionaries. Prayerfully consider living among the impoverished and show them how to live a life of Solo Christo, through Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura, all for Soli Deo Gloria.

Isn’t that what we write in our blogs, preach from pulpits and declare from conference platforms. Social justice advocacy costs us nothing, except the time it takes to come up with a snazzy hashtag, write a letter, sign our name to a petition or write up a righteous anger comment on Facebook or Twitter, buy a t-shirt or wear a plastic wristband. Christians must do better than social justice advocates who don’t really want to give up anything to help exploited families, other than advance the agenda of the main stream media and promote anti-government rhetoric.

Why not use our collective voice to denounce the governments of the countries that these people come from and ask our government or the U.N. to hold them accountable for not having infrastructure in place that help their citizens in their own countries. Their lives should not matter only when they arrive in this country. They should matter while they are still in their own countries.

Why not, in all our creative American ingenuity, figure out ways to stop these impoverished souls from putting themselves at the mercy of traffickers, smugglers, or coyotes seeking to exploit them and their 4000 to 10,000 American dollars, not pesos. This is the per-person cost it takes to be smuggled into the U.S. for the “American dream”. For people who live in extreme poverty, that is a lifetime of savings. Think about that.

Our advocacy must look different than outraged social justice warriors that are easily triggered by the media’s one sided, sensationalized approach to reporting the news. We must respond differently, meaning we must be people that first and foremost prays for God to give us clarity, along with a level-headed-ness (wisdom) when it comes to these issues. Secondly, as the Holy Spirit convicts, move out on faith and trust that God will direct our desire to truly help, not with a reactionary faux help that offers no real solutions, but a thought out intentional kind of help that seeks a real time tangible solution….even if it’s done with no recognition. Let’s not be people fueled by anger or hopelessness, but rather trust and faithfulness in a good God that will provide the means for us to evangelize the literal traveling lost.

Christ plus American citizenship does not equal the gospel. The U.S is not the land flowing with milk and honey that God promised to all people, nor is everyone entitled to American citizenship.

Desperate Latin American people, looking for American prosperity need to know their lives and their children’s lives are worth more than reaching America’s border. America is not the promised land of Israel. When we advocate for Latin American’s only when they arrive in America, we are reinforcing the ideology that American citizenship should be the highest attainable goal everyone should want and deserve, even if it means risking their lives, making the cartels and human smugglers richer, and breaking the law of the country that will offer them the prosperity they are looking for. We reinforce a continuation of manifest destiny that many social justice advocates denounce.

Let’s not love our American prosperity so much that we are not willing to give it up, if God calls us to.

Social justice advocates actually work as accomplices to the exploitation of Latin American men, women, and children, by harboring closet American exceptionalism. They show signs of immigration bi-polar advocacy, while helping to line the pockets of exploiters.

As Christ following believers, let’s not be accomplices as well. American exceptionalism under the guise of “loving our neighbor” should never be what we preach or advocate.

Recently, a politician used Romans 13:1-2 as a declaration to encourage others to follow a law that has been on the books since 1997.  All of a sudden, Christians came out of the woodwork and became experts on Bible contextualization, expressing with anger and disdain the audacity that a politician use the Bible out of context. However, when a would be president did the same with the story of Abraham and Isaac, not one single Christian grew outraged at the idea that a politician used rationalistic empiricism to usurp God’s purpose and interaction with Abraham.

Romans 13:8-10 reminds us of what the law says in Deuteronomy; that we should not commit adultery, should not murder, should not steal and should not covet, and that we should love our neighbor as ourselves since love does no wrong to a neighbor. We commit all these acts when we advocate that American prosperity is worth the rape women have to endure, it’s worth the possibility of death crossing hundreds of miles of jungle and desert, it’s worth causing the smugglers to steal from impoverished desperate people and finally that American exceptionalism is worth coveting.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Notice this does not say beautiful are those with outraged fingers that can type. Nor is Paul telling us that we should make them come to us, since our privilege in America is too great to give up.

 

Let me say it again: Social justice advocacy exists because evangelism and a desire for missions does not. As Gospel motivated Christians, we must be better and do better than social justice advocates.

Isaiah 6:8 says, and I heard a voice of the Lord saying, “whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me”.

Ariel Bovat

Author Ariel Bovat

More posts by Ariel Bovat

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Dan Baker says:

    I appreciate your critiques. American Christians should be involved on both sides of the border – whether as missionaries to Central & South American countries or to serve those immigrants (legal and illegal) who decide to come to this country. God calls different folks to different tasks and equips His people to accomplish His plans in a variety of ways. For some that will look like foreign missions or even permanent relocation to another country, for others it might look like the kind of activism you describe, for others it will mean serving in local immigrant communities in the U.S.

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