By CBF Familia
April 14-16, a group of 144 individuals from 65 organizations in over 18 countries in North America joined together virtually to talk about the migration crisis and how people of faith can be equipped to help serve and walk alongside the migrant and refugee community in the Northern Triangle (Mexico, U.S., and Central America).
This event was part of the larger campaign called “As Born Among Us” (“Como Nacido entre Nosotros”) that had beginnings in 2018. The CBF Latino Network joined this initiative in 2019 and this year it had the opportunity to was host it alongside other organizations like Tearfund and World Vision.
Over the span of three days a large group of pastors, practitioners, and leaders through devotionals, lectures, workshops, and collaborative groups were able to learn and share from one another. The overall objectives of the conference were to identify good practices for migrant and refugee advocacy, construct a space for biblical and theological reflection that is in favor of migrant people, and to brainstorm possible action steps to protect the rights of migrant and refugee persons, especially those who are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The campaign had acclaimed presenters, theologians and experts who shared their knowledge and heart on all aspects of the migrant and refugee crisis in the Northern Triangle. There were individuals from Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, amongst others, as well as an array of denominational partners such as Jesuits, Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics. Topics spanned from child migration, human rights, policy protocols, grant writing, and the climate crisis.
Notably, CBF had significant presence and participation within the conference. CBF FAMILIA’s coordinator, Rubén Ortiz, was among the planning team and also opened the conference with the centering devotional. He also served as facilitator and workshop guide throughout the three days of the conference. In addition, Elket Rodriguez, CBF’s Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy and Missions Specialist, led one of the most attended workshops on safety protocols for migrants and international protection norms. CBF employees Javier Perez and Grace Martino also lent a hand through translation for English-speaking participants.
The conference help shed light on the pressing situations that our brothers and sisters face daily as migrants, and more so now during the pandemic. Although COVID slowed down the flow of migration at first, the needs and desperation of individuals surpassed their fear of the disease. In response to the humanitarian, economic, and political crisis that multitudes in the borderlands are facing, many have been moved to compassion through their ministries and professional work. Beyond the responsibility we have to each other as humans, the Lord calls on us to be harbingers of his love, help, and embrace just like many speakers at “As Born Among Us” indicated.
Since the completion of the conference many have been mobilized to serve and equip migrants and refugees all over the Northern Triangle. There was an official letter signed by pastors and organizations to speak to the urgency of the migration crisis and the need for the Christian community to mobilize in favor of migrants.
In addition, the campaign “As Born Among Us” has developed a pastoral guide in Spanish for clergy who wish to do more within their context. CBF FAMILIA hopes to continue important partnerships such as these that expand the family that is CBF and broadens our sensitivities to the ways we can better serve those not only in the United States, but all over the globe.