The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

August 15, 2012

My Borderlands Experience

By: 
Alejandra Ortiz Chacón

This summer, seventeen InterVarsity staff and students took part in Borderlands, a special track of the Los Angeles Urban Project. They spent time in Tijuana, San Diego, and Fresno to learn more about the issue of immigration and to understand the issue through a Christian lens.  

While at the border, they partnered with staff and students from Compa, the IFES movement in Mexico. Here is one Compa staff’s perspective on the experience: 

For three days, we slept in a Tijuna shelter for immigrants and listened to their stories of pain, poverty, suffering, separation from their families, and hopelessness.

We prepared food to give away at the central bus station and heard more stories—this time some were stories of hope, and of what Christians are doing to love their neighbors.

Borderlandshas been one the most significant experiences I've had in student ministry as a Compa staff.

As I and my Compa students came together with the American InterVarsity students and staff for Borderlands, we got to share how we do student ministry in Mexico, the uncertain political context of our country, and more of our lives and struggles.

The American InterVarsity students and staff were welcomed into our homes and also our churches.

For me, it was a blessing to host, share, and bless my American brothers and sisters because we gave ourselves to them and they did the same for us.

We enjoyed celebrating together through bible study, food, worship, community, prayer and music!

A Sobering Experience

On the third day of Borderlands, the tone changed as we crossed the border into San Diego—leaving behind more than half of our Compa students, who weren’t able to get visas.

It was different to suddenly realize how a border had the capacity to make us (the Compa staff and students) feel different.

As Mexicans we don't feel welcomed in the United States. There is a feeling of inferiority rooted in our shared history and we suddenly felt overwhelmed by the division between our countries.

But, our new American InterVarsity friends made us feel welcomed, loved, and cared for. That night, on the beach, we all prayed together for the political unrest in Mexico and cried out to God as one.

The next day, we took gallons of water into the desert (near San Diego), for those who walk for days hoping to cross into the United States. 

We also visited a cemetery, where more than 700 unidentified people are buried.  These men, women, and children all died in the desert trying to cross the border.

It was a very powerful experience.

The Miracle of Unity

That day we spent time with God, reflecting on all the pain we heard and witnessed, and the injustices of our broken systems.

During those days, it became clear that what we were dealing with were people (and families) and not just a political issue. And we were reminded of God’s call to love and care for the foreigner. 

By the end of our time together, Compa and InterVarsity students dreamed about how Borderlands could continue bringing communities together to do mission in God's world.

We also shared what we were grateful for, what we saw God doing, and what next step we felt God was asking us to take. I was amazed to see the miracles God did in our lives—the unity between our Compa and American students.  

The friendships that were started will be influential in the coming years, as we seek God's love and justice in the issue of migration in our countries.

The love between Compa and Intervarsity students (and staff) became a statement of how God's love can break down any barrier and enables us to care deeply for one another.

Comments

Ale, thank you for leading us and welcoming us so well during our time in Tijuana! I am in awe of what God is doing between the two countries and look forward to the day when full unity will come to the nations. Compa is a blessing to us!
In Borderlands, one day seems like a week!! Thanks to God for my new friends of InterVarsity. -Melissa Olachea, Compa Student.

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