Let the Little Children Come to Me
Oct 24, 2019
An article by The Rev. Gladys Díaz, Church Planter of "Mission Walk: An Episcopal / Lutheran Journey"
Hoping you are all having a fantastic week in your Mission Walk. I must share with you how grateful I am for the invitation by Roberto Lara to join other MNYS Pastors and Lay Leaders (Pr. Arias, Pr. Juan Carlos, and Lay leader Christopher Vergara) to visit and accompany the children of our Sanctuary/AMMPARO Ministry, this week at the Bronx Zoo.
They were 30 children, none older than 12, who were ripped away from their family for crossing the border while fleeing from the brutal violence and poverty of their countries.
Spending several hours with them and a group of teachers at the Bronx Zoo to simply be fully present and offer pastoral care, was a profound and transformative experience I will cherish in my own Mission Walk!
I was drawn to a little girl named Maria who I noticed isolated herself from the group. She told me she had lost the image of the Virgin Maria she carried in her neck chain and that she could not remember all the words to a virgin prayer she was taught back home. I was humbled by this sacred moment, connecting with little Maria and slowly remembering and reciting a prayer, I too, learned back home, long ago. I later found out that the primary language of this child of God is an indigenous dialect and she has learned to speak Spanish while in this detention process. I also learned that in the midst of all the trauma of her experience, she was saved from human trafficking.
I was also drawn to Steven, a petite little looking boy full of curiosity, spontaneity and energy, also 12. Steven shared with me a few lyrics to a song he remembers from back home. I learned that Steven was mistreated at the last detention center, in Florida, but due to a lottery process that took place in response to the aftermath of the Huracan, he was transferred to NYC!
I wrote down the names of each of the children in the group I spent time with while teaming up with Chris, chair of the MNYS Sanctuary/AMMPARO Ministry. Before we said goodbye, I promised the children I would keep them in my heart, and pray for each of them by name, and that they are never alone, for they are God's beloved children and Jesus is walking this journey with them!
Later, while reflecting on this experience, I envisioned a circle comprised of hundreds of us tenderly and faithfully embracing and lifting in prayer these innocent children during this painful and lonely journey. I may never see any of these little people again, but I feel our presence was truly an incarnation of the AMPARO of Jesus our Lord. Their flight reminded me of the time when the holy family, with baby Jesus, crossed borders to also flee violence and persecution.
I started a prayer chain among some of my circles; feel free to join:
“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them. For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14