Story 1

Feb 21, 2012   //   by Ben Johnson   //   Immigrant Stories  //  Comments Off on Story 1

At Denver International, I sat to reflect on the trip. It was a good time Miguel connecting with leaders, connecting with the city of Littleton Immigrant Resource center and learning from a young leader about starting house churches. I was tired and ready to crawl into my man cave. It is just at these times that the Lord brings His silent blessings that are the easiest to miss.

It came in the form of an illegal. Miguel Angel came with a slight limp to gate A47. He looked like a man carrying the pains of life like a sack of concrete. He settled in next to me and kept holding his ticket right up to his face as if staring at it would change the words into a language he could read. I offered to translate it for him and then assured him he was at the right gate. I knew then heading to the cave would be sin because this man was ready to burst. He asked me what country I was from. I told him I was a Texican… He said I was funny and lucky. After a little time I found out he was a believer. He came illegally ten years ago but now had an employer that could “pull some strings” to get him in and out of the country legally since he had some very special skills – a horse trainer. With his employer’s help he gets to go home for a couple of months to be with his family and then must come back to work.

When not working with the horses, he moonlights as a roofer. He said it is hard work and few want to do it, so his Hispanic friends can always get work. He said he was sad because yesterday he lost one of his charges to a freak accident, a young man who had just come from Mexico. Miguel said he had to beg the roofing company for money to send the body to the family in Mexico. They pay so little and act like they don’t know you when problems happen.

As the older man, he said he tells his young illegal charges, “Vivimos en tierra prestada” (we live on borrowed land). We must work harder than Americans because they are the owners while we are just borrowers. We must behave better than them. We must be more trustworthy than them. At any time what we have borrowed may be taken back. In this, he was not just talking about being picked-up by the immigration service but death itself. He went on saying, “while we are in this borrowed land, we must be a blessing. No matter how they treat us, we must work hard for the dear ones we have left. Be a blessing to your employer. Be a blessing to this land.”

It reminded me of Jeremiah 29:7 “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” We are all exiles living on borrowed land.
When we got to the next airport I took Miguel Angel to his gate. I knew that the Lord had sent me an angel; I also live on borrowed land. I must be a blessing while I have the time. Adios Compañero, que Dios te cuida.

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