Worshiping With Migrant Youths On Easter An Eye-Opening Experience

The migrant youths wrote prayer requests. Upper left picture: Rev. Dr. Owen Ross, Rev. Dr. Edgar Bazan and Bishop Michael McKee outside of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. 

Bishop McKee, Rev. Dr. Ross, Rev. Dr. Bazan and others from the NTC prayed with migrant youths

Roughly 1,800 migrant youths who fled Central America in the last month are gathered in Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. They left their homelands, many coming from Honduras, seeking a better way of life in the United States. Their housing here is temporary and transitional as they wait to reunite with family members or guardians who already are settled in this country.

Coming to a foreign locale unaccompanied and without the comfort of having a close support system joining them for this journey has been difficult. Being in this new land as others around the world celebrated Easter Sunday with their loved ones made the situation that much more tenuous.

As a way to ease their transition, Bishop Michael McKee, Rev. Dr. Owen Ross and Rev. Dr. Edgar Bazan – as well as a collection of clergy and laity from Spanish-speaking congregations in the North Texas Conference – led an Easter worship for this gathering to assure them that hope is alive.

Preaching on John 20:19-22, Dr. Ross drew the poignant correlation between the disciples and these migrant youths.

“On Easter evening, Jesus gathered with the disciples in a season of fear and uncertainty, behind locked doors,” said Dr. Ross, Director of the NTC’s Center for Church Development. “He offered them shalom, gave them a mission and breathed on them the Holy Spirit.

“On Easter evening 2021, a group of us had the opportunity to gather with a group of disciples facing uncertainty and fear, behind locked doors where Jesus gave us purpose and breathed the Holy Spirit upon us.”

Those who were a part of the NTC delegation prayed with the group and gathered cards on which the migrant youths wrote prayer requests in their native language. These have since been distributed to churches around the conference as a way for our congregations to prayer for the youths’ needs.

One prayer card read:

“My name is Sergio. I want to say that I miss a lot my mom and my little sister who stayed in Honduras. I always pray to God for them and all of the rest of my family. This trip has been difficult, but I am trusting that God will always help me and has given me the strength to go forward in blessing. And it will be God, God that will help me in this new beginning. I ask you to please help me pray for all of my family and that the Lord keeps them, and for all of the youth that are here to help us move forward. AMEN.”

For Dr. Bazan, witnessing first-hand the sorrow and pain the youths were experiencing was transformative and ushered him in to wanting to act and advocate for them.

“I must say that if we do not share their pain and seek to help them, who are we then?” said Dr. Bazan, Senior Pastor at New World UMC. “Jesus spoke about this often, particularly when he said, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Matthew 40:31-36)’ “

Published: Thursday, April 15, 2021