At the end of October, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending a conference in Mexico City about Migration Theology.
It was a chance for theologians, students, missionaries, and lay people from all over the Americas and the Caribbean to come together to discuss the different ways migration impacts the world and the ways in which the church can—and should—have an impact on migration.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been living in Southern Mexico. The conversation about migration has been held on my doorstep, in my kitchen, at the coffee station in my office, and with the waiter at my favorite restaurant. Before coming to Mexico City, I moved everything out of my apartment in Chiapas and bought a one-way ticket back to the U.S. This conference served as my middle-ground between Southern Mexico and home. During those 5 days in Mexico City I was in transition—transition from one life to another, having chosen to leave one life and continue on towards another carrying everything I had with me. While it may be tempting to draw similarities, my journey was nothing like that of a Central American traveling north. My journey was comfortable, short, relatively safe, and most importantly, I was traveling toward a known future; I was traveling home rather than away from it.
After spending three days in theological discussions, hearing personal stories about migration, and how to make the church more accessible and applicable, I am left with an incredible sense of determination and purpose. The week was full of conversation and questions, and I cannot possibly mention everything that made an impact on me, so I leave you with my first question, and my final reflection:
First, what can we (we-people of faith, we-young people, we-people of privilege) actually do to make a positive impact on the migration crisis? Aside from the story of Jesus’ parents as immigrants, many other books in the bible focus on migration and refugees, including the books of Ruth and Exodus. In fact, the entire Bible is basically just a long story about migration and refugees. If that’s not an explicit call to action, then I don’t know what is. It is time that we reread the Bible and learn to open dialogue, not fear it. The point of reading the Bible is to not close ourselves off—there is always something else to learn. So, I’ve heard the call, but what do I do with it? How do I stay involved in the migration conversation when I feel so removed from the people in migration? This is a question I will continue to ask myself and I will continue en busqueda of the answer.
Finally, I leave you with these words from one of the presenters at the conference: “We must migrate from one way of thinking to another way of thinking; we must keep walking, walking towards a new reality, walking towards our new reality.” We are all migrants in one way or another, whether physically, emotionally, or intellectually—it makes no difference. From our million-year-old ancestors to our grandparents and our children, migration is in our DNA and we must continue walking—paso por paso—towards our new realities.
Cara McKinney serves with Melel Xojobal in Mexico. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and your special gifts.