Mission Crossroads

FAL 2018

Mission Crossroads is a three-time-a-year magazine focused on worldwide work of the PC(USA). It offers news and feature stories about mission personnel, international partners and grassroots Presbyterians involved in God's mission in the world.

Issue link: https://missioncrossroads.epubxp.com/i/1024538

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10 | Fall 2018 Faith and Lodia in action Presbyterian teens take a stand on Capitol Hill for immigration justice and peace Debbie Braaksma I Debbie Braaksma, World Mission's Africa area coordinator, is flanked by Faith Evanson (left) and Lodia Yanga, youth from Beechmont Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, who attended the March for Our Lives event and Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. t all started on Palm Sunday at Beechmont Presbyterian Church. I had just learned that two youth group members, Faith Evanson, 15, and Lodia Yanga 16, had returned from the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. Beechmont, a multicultural congregation in Louisville, Kentucky, thrives on spontaneity, so I asked Faith if she would share about her experience. She did so with passion, saying she wanted to return. e wheels inside my head began turning. I was heading to Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., so I thought, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if these girls could participate?" I could chaperone and share my room if we could garner support. Beechmont was eager to do so, as the theme, "A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People," resonated with our congregation. e church frequently addresses issues of immigrant justice and peace through sermons, prayers, advocacy and World Mission updates. e theme also intrigued Faith and Lodia, as their parents are former Sudanese refugees. On April 20 the three of us were off to D.C. Faith and Lodia were excited that among the first to speak was the Rev. James Makuei Chuol of the Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency, who discussed the situation in South Sudan. In addition to attending workshops on human trafficking, South Sudan and racism, we took part in a prayer vigil and a march for immigrants' rights. Faith said, "I guess the best part of the weekend for me was when we made the posters in the hotel room; then we walked through the streets. I just felt kind of powerful because everyone could see us. We were on Capitol Hill!" Lodia said, "ey had created a [papier-mâché] wall with handprints of hate or bigotry, like sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and, at the top of it, it said: 'Wall of Hate and White Supremacy.' We carried it from the church to Capitol Hill, where we broke it down. We were singing, and all were united together, and it just felt good!" When we visited our senators' and congressional representatives' offices, Lodia and Faith made the case for immigration reform and support for peacemaking in South Sudan. Faith spoke from personal experience, asking them to "think kindly of refugees." "ey want to reduce the amount of people they are accepting, but I wanted them to think about the fact that these people do not choose to be refugees," she said. "My parents didn't choose to come to America. Sudan was where they know everybody; that's everybody they grew up with. at's their life. ey would have stayed there, but they couldn't, so therefore they're seeking assistance. … Remember that Jesus was a refugee too." One might wonder what motivates these young women to care so deeply about immigrant justice and peace in

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