Reflecting on the humanitarian crisis of vulnerable children along the U.S. border, Rich Stearns — president of World Vision U.S. — writes that, following Jesus, “the best solutions come from a compassionate heart.”
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” —Matthew 19:13-14 (NIV)
When I read the Gospels, I’m often quick to wonder how the disciples so often got things wrong. Like the time that little children were brought to Jesus for him to lay his hands on them. The disciples heartlessly drove the children away.
Jesus thought otherwise. He famously said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” he said, “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
Usually when I’m ready to accuse the disciples for their foolishness, I have to admit that if I were in their shoes, I would have been far more foolish. I’m afraid this is yet another case where you and I might be more like the disciples than we are like Jesus.
Today, little children are coming across the southern border of the United States. They aren’t seeking a spiritual blessing, but a material one. They aren’t brought by loving parents and guardians, but instead they are sent or driven away from home in the hopes of a better life, one free from abuse and violence, and with the possibility of a hopeful future. In many of these cases, they are being turned away. As Christians watching this terrible migration of children, Jesus’ words must whisper in each of our hearts. Let the little children come.
All children need to be welcomed as Jesus welcomed them. They need mothers and fathers who love and care for them, families who embrace them, and communities who will nurture them. When children face such terrible circumstances that they are willing to risk their lives and leave their families and communities, our hearts must break.
At World Vision, we are working hard to offer solutions that will help these children. We understand that solving this crisis is more complex and more difficult than what any one of us can do alone. The root problem is violence and hopelessness in the home countries children are fleeing. It isn’t enough to deal with the symptoms after they arrive in the United States. We also understand that a solution will balance grace and truth, recognizing the need to respect the law while also extending compassion to children and families, who in many cases are fleeing for their lives.
But we can only find the best practical solution when we all — our leaders and our citizens — have welcomed these precious children in our own hearts, seeking the best for them. The best solutions come from a compassionate heart. Following Jesus, we can say, let the little children come to me.
World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns is the author of The Hole In Our Gospel and Unfinished. Follow him at twitter.com/richstearns.
World Vision is working with churches and community partners across the United States to provide for these children. Please pray for them, and give a gift today to help respond to their immediate needs.