SERMON TITLE: “Journey Together with Purpose”
SERMON TEXT: Matthew 4:12-25
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: October 30, 2022, at First UMC
As some of you know, I’ve been very involved this week trying to provide some compassionate care for a couple who came to our church on Tuesday afternoon. Using my less-than-fluent Spanish, I learned that Yanier and Yusimi are refugees from Cuba. Because life in Cuba has become extremely difficult, thousands and thousands of Cubans have left their island nation and have done everything in their power to make their way to the United States. Like me, you’ve probably heard multiple news stories about Cubans who tried to go 90 miles by boat to Florida, only to capsize in a storm. Thousands of other Cubans, like Yanier and Yusimi, have taken a much, much longer route, by flying to the South American countries of Surinam or Guyana, and then making their way by bus and by foot to Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and then Mexico.
Twenty-one days ago, Yanier and Yusimi then crossed the Rio Grande into Texas, and turned themselves in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as you may have heard them called. After processing them, ICE then put Yanier and Yusimi on a plane to Salt Lake City. From the Salt Lake airport, Yanier and Yusimi were bussed to Ogden. On Friday, when I was helping Yanier and Yusimi, we encountered a family of three from Venezuela. Their story was very similar. They too had turned themselves in to Immigration and had been flown to SLC and bussed to Ogden.
Can you imagine how hard life must be in their home country to cause persons to work so hard to migrate so far and through such difficulties to another country, with different customs and language and climate? This week was the first time for all of them to see snow and to feel so cold. But these two families certainly aren’t alone. News articles and helping agencies here in Utah tell of thousands and thousands of people who are traveling the same routes with similar struggles. Out of desperation and faith in God, they spend all the money they have and put forth this strenuous effort because they hold out hope that life can be better in their future. The sad reality is that, once these immigrants arrive in the U.S., it’s still nearly impossible for them to get legal permission to work. They bump up against roadblocks at every turn. If I’ve learned anything in this week dedicated to helping Yanier and Yusimi, it’s that our American immigration system is in serious need of improvement. But the migrants keep coming because they are driven by the dream and motivated by the vision that there could be a place where they could work to provide for their families and where they could live in safety. All over the world there are migrants who journey together with such a determination and purpose.