In our post from earlier this month, we shared about a new initiative called Abara that grew out of the work Ciudad Nueva has been doing on the U.S.–Mexico border over the past several years.
Abara’s mission is “to cultivate opportunities for understanding, serving, and loving across divides through education, encounters, and response.” One of the ways Abara lives out this mission is by hosting two- to five-day border encounters where people can immerse themselves in the realities on the U.S.–Mexico border as they explore, listen, serve, and reflect.
During their time at the border, participants are given the opportunity to hear a wide variety of perspectives on the situation there, including those of the U.S. Border Patrol, immigration legal services, migrant hospitality houses, local nonprofits serving in both relief and development capacities, and people seeking asylum in the U.S.
Participants are invited to wrestle with the following questions:
- Why are so many people fleeing from Central America?
- What happens when a migrant reaches the U.S. border?
- How dangerous is the border?
- What are our current immigration laws and how does someone enter the United States the legal way?
- What does the Bible say about immigrants?
- How are churches and other groups responding to the situation?
- What can I be doing in my own community?
Here is what past participants of border encounters have had to say about their experiences:
“The border issues are often complex, confusing and politically charged. This is an opportunity to understand the issue first from a biblical and human perspective. This trip will help you understand the issues and listen for your own calling.”
“This trip was incredibly impactful and has forever changed the way I think about how we as Christians are called to advocate for immigrants.”
“Every aspect of this trip was well done and beneficial. The education and first-hand experience we received in just a few days were helpful in showing the realities and the complexity of what is truly happening around the border. I can safely say that each of us left changed.”
“Immigration is a complex and often politically charged issue, but immigrants themselves are people. Interacting with asylum seekers on both sides of the U.S–Mexico border and being inspired by the heroic responses of Christ-followers on the ground challenged and inspired me. I went home both better equipped to love the immigrants in my community and to advocate for just and compassionate policies.”
One participant created a short documentary as her way of sharing her experience at the border. This brief but powerful video captures the heartbreaking stories of mothers and fathers seeking asylum in the U.S. for the safety of their children. Here is what she had to say about the effect she hopes her documentary will have: “My prayer is that our hearts will be filled with compassion, our hands and feet ready for action, and our people to come together and think creatively about a just and humane solution to this issue.”
We encourage you to watch it and share it with others:
If you would be interested in participating in a two- to five-day border encounter with Abara, please click here for more information.