ATLANTA — “Just get in the way…get in good trouble.” That was the message of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis on September 19 to a diverse group of Baptists in Atlanta.
Lewis’ comments came during the final plenary session of the 2017 summit of the New Baptist Covenant, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-partner pursuing racial justice and reconciliation. The renowned civil rights hero urged summit participants to stand up and speak out against injustice.
“As Christians, as teachers, as preachers of the Gospel, we gotta stand up,” Lewis said. “When we see something and it’s not right, not fair, not just, we have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate from God Almightly to speak to power.”
Lewis told the crowd of Baptists to “get in the way” and “get in good trouble.”
“Just get in the way,” Lewis said. “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble and make problems and issues on this little piece of real estate we call Earth. …So go out, stand up, get in the way and never give up. Never give in.
You might get knocked down. You might get arrested. You might go to jail a few times, but it’s okay. It’s alright. We all can stand up. We all get angry. We call can be witnesses to the truth. …Go make trouble.”
Speak up and advocate for DREAMers
Earlier in the day, CBF Advocacy leader Anyra Cano urged summit attendees to speak up and advocate for DREAMers. Cano, a Fort Worth-based youth minister who serves as a member of the CBF Advocacy Action Team for Refugees and Immigrants, spoke about “the nightmare of being labeled a criminal by those who are called to love” as she shared stories of DREAMers, the 1.8 million young undocumented immigrant students living in the United States and brought to the country at a very young age by their parents.
“I am the wife of an immigrant, minister to immigrants — both undocumented and documented,” Cano said. “I am the daughter of a once-undocumented immigrant, sister of an immigrant, sister-in-law of a DREAMer, cousin of an immigrant, co-worker to immigrants and best friend to a once-undocumented immigrant.”
In sharing the stories of DREAMers, Cano called on congregations to speak out against the heated and offensive rhetoric often directed at these young immigrants.
“What is the church doing to speak out, to say these are not criminals, these are human beings,” Cano said. These are humans created in God’s image. What can the church do to be advocates and catalysts of love and healing. DREAMers are the least of these. They are marginalized and have no voice in this country.”
Jesus commanded us to do unto others as you would want them to do unto you, Cano emphasized.
“How would we want our children to be loved,” she asked, “If we were in a dire situation, how would you want your children to be treated. Would you love them as your neighbor and would you love them as yourself.”
Cano encouraged attendees at the summit to listen to the stories of DREAMers and, most importantly, put their faith to action.
“I want to ask you to act,” Cano said. “Seek to reconcile with our brothers and sisters who are hurting at this moment. There is so much fear. Every Sunday for the past two months in our church, we’ve had people come and ask for prayer. They come crying. They just don’t know what to do. Let’s speak out for these DREAMers.”
Cano’s presentation follows the September 5 announcement of the Trump Administration’s plans to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program that has protected from deportation nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United as children.
CBF Executive Coordinator lauded the success of the DACA program and urged Congress to take action in a September 5 statement.
“This has been a trial program testing criteria that is given for a successful immigration program — speaking English, maintaining employment and contributing to the greater good of the United States,” Paynter said. “It has exceeded every criterion that we’ve ever looked at for successful immigration. The fact that President Trump won’t maintain it is a mistake. Now, Congress has the opportunity to take a proven program that has a positive outcome and make it a sustained program.”
CBF Advocacy urges people of faith to contact their member of Congress and two Senators to express support for DACA recipients and urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act.