Jesus loves the little children
I grew up in a small Baptist church in my hometown in rural Georgia, but there was nothing small about the magnitude of God’s love there. Although it may have been a small church in terms of the size of the congregation, it was a big church in all the right senses. It was a welcoming and loving place with open doors and arms to all.
One of the first lessons that I recall from my earliest memories as a child growing up in the church is the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Indeed, my own young children have learned the very same song at our own Baptist church. It may be a song sung most often by little children, but it contains a powerful message and an essential Christian teaching. Even children can grasp the big message contained in that little song: that each one of us represents the face of God.
A South Georgia Baptist preacher by the name of Clarence Jordan once wrote, “One wonders why Christians today get off so easily. Is it because un-Christian Americans are that much better than un-Christian Romans, or is our light so dim that the tormentor can’t see it? What are the things we do that are worth persecuting?”
Today we face a moral crisis in our country with the immoral and evil practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the border. I will never know the feeling of having my children torn away from me by a government in the name of enforcement of a deeply broken immigration policy. However, I cannot sit silently in my pew on Sunday morning and pretend that everything is okay, and neither should you.
Our light as people of faith cannot be dim on this issue. To allow that would be a grave injustice.
I’m a politician and a country lawyer, but I am not writing this as the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives or as a counselor in the court of law. I’ll leave the political and legal debate on immigration up to Congress, and pray that God gives the wisdom, decency and courage to implement a humane system in keeping with the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty and written in the Good Book.
I’m writing this letter as a father, as a Baptist and as a Christian, because it’s those aspects of who I am that are stirred deeply by images and stories coming out of the detention centers along our border.
As a policymaker and a concerned citizen, it is difficult to fathom how one could parse words to justify separating children from parents at the border, a horror to which we are all bearing witness in real time. As a Christian, nothing justifies separating children from families pursuing the dream my parents had for me and that I have for my own little ones.
People of faith should realize that an effort to reunite these children with their parents matched with a call to end this horrendous policy is a moral imperative. We cannot sit silently in our pews and allow our light to dim.
Fortunately, the Gospel provides a clear roadmap on how our community should act. We must speak out.
On Sunday, pianos in churches like mine and yours, in welcoming towns like mine and yours, will once again play “Jesus Loves the Little Children” as our children, with our hearts in tow, gather for their children’s sermon.
But this Sunday, the familiar chords of that age-old song will not comfort me; I won’t let them. They will serve as a call to action to speak out against this moral crisis at our border, and I hope you will allow those chords to move you to action, too.
See the face of your children in the children literally being confined to cages, take a moment to be moved by the love you have for your children, and try to understand the pain you would feel should they be taken from you. And then, act. This is how I was taught to see the face of God in the pews and Sunday school classrooms at Luthersville Baptist Church, and I know this is how others were taught, too.
Make no mistake, God is with these families and children in their time of desperation, but are we? We are His instruments, and if we truly believe the words of that song as our children do, we must speak out and take action.
Please, don’t be silent. To be silent is to be complicit. Don’t let yourself off easily. Don’t let your light dim. Those families – our brothers and sisters in Christ – deserve nothing less.
Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Bob Trammell, concerned Baptist, represents the citizens of District 132, which includes portions of Coweta, Meriwether and Troup counties. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 and currently serves as House minority leader. He also serves on the Ethics, Governmental Affairs, Information and Audits, Judiciary Non-Civil, Motor Vehicles, Rules and Ways and Means committees.