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Living into Isaiah’s Vision of Hope, Restoration and Wholeness.

A Letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar, serving at the Mexican Border

December 2020

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Dear friends,

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” –Isaiah 40:1

Isaiah first spoke these words into a situation of desolation and despair. Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians, much of its leadership deported, and the rest of the people living under the rule of a foreign power that did not know or respect their God.

We celebrate Advent in a time of darkness, both literally as the days grow shorter, but also figuratively as we are seemingly dividing up more in more into our religious, social, and political clans unable to recognize the humanity of a divine image in one another or speak to one another a word of love, much less form part of the peaceable kin-dom envisioned earlier in Isaiah 11 where—

“The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.”

Here on the border the hospitals are filling up with persons suffering from COVID, children are struggling to adapt to virtual learning with less than ideal tech tools, families who fled extreme violence and poverty and came to Agua Prieta to petition legally for asylum at the Douglas are stuck in Agua Prieta where they are targets of cartel violence, and people are dying at higher rates than ever in the desert where the paths have not been made straight for the hungry, the thirsty, or the stranger.

“Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God.”

Isaiah continues to speak these words into the darkness of our realities today. Isaiah is not speaking directly to the people of Israel here but rather to those who God is recruiting to be messengers of hope.

On Tuesday, we will hold our 1,040th Healing Our Borders Prayer Vigil just north of the border. We gather to remember our sisters and brothers who have died crossing the border, pray for their families, and pray for our governments that we might find a better way and commit ourselves for working for a more just, peace-filled, and loving world where no one dies in the desert. We have 317 crosses with the names of those we know to have died just in Cochise County. In the time of COVID, three or four of us gather in person and a larger group gathers virtually. We process down Pan American Avenue calling out each name and placing the crosses on the curb.

We never thought that this simple liturgical act of public prayer would by a direct physical comfort to the families impacted by our broken border, and economic and immigration systems until Araceli’s cousin showed up one day—

A young woman stopped one day and picked up a cross and with tears in her eyes she said: “Araceli was my cousin. She was pregnant. We did not think anybody cared. Can I take this cross to her mother?” Araceli’s mother ended up coming to Agua Prieta to visit us at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta and shared a bit of her grief and gratitude with us and was comforted that her daughter was not forgotten.

On December 8, we commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the Healing Our Borders Vigil.
We remembered human beings created in the Divine Image, Beloved by God, whose lives were cut short in the deserts around us. We prayed that God’s loving and comforting arms will embrace the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons who will not be celebrating the holidays with their loved one, and we committed ourselves to living into the vision of hope, restoration and wholeness spoken by Isaiah.

May God grant you eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to serve, feet to follow and hearts to trust Emmanuel today and each day of the year to come!

Mark and Miriam

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