Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cottonwood, Minnesota. So easy to be angry…so hard to forgive

Cottonwood, Minnesota is 40 miles down the road from our farm. Until this week, a typical sleepy Western Minnesota town; a good place to live. Cottonwood got world-wide attention this week. This attention came about in a most tragic way.

A school bus accident resulted in the death of four students and sent 14 other people to the hospital. As the details of the accident came out, passions were lit up on the Western Minnesota prairie. A 23 year old, illegal immigrant woman driving without a driver’s license blew through a stop sign at fairly good speed hitting the bus, causing the accident. As of today, authorities do not know her real name and country of origin. She had broken-up with her live in boyfriend and was heading to work. The woman has been charged with four counts of vehicular homicide. It may be possible that she will serve 60 years in jail.

In light of all of this, the people of the prairie are angry. What the driver did was wrong, no doubt about it. Emilee’s mom will never take pictures of her on prom night. Reed will never get a chance to play football to the cheers of his family. Hunter and Jesse will never enjoy a sunny winter’s day ride on the snowmobiles. I cannot imagine the depth of hurt for these families. I have not walked in their shoes but people who have lost children say the hurt is long-lasting and the pain cuts deeply.

The Latino community and illegal immigrants have taken the brunt of the anger. I ask a question: “Why was she here?” She probably came for economic opportunity; the same reason most of our ancestors came to America, but she came illegally. Who’s fault is that? Hers, yet politicians in America and other Latin American countries have little, if any, urgency to even attempt to solve the illegal alien problem. And, we don’t hold them accountable. Why did she leave her home country? Possibly just because she was hungry. She was willing to risk death to eat and have a low paying, menial job…

Why does America need her labor so badly? Could our own actions be the major part of the problem? Since 1973 approximately 1 million babies a year have been aborted; from 1973 to 2008, totaling approximately 35 million children. If 25% of these 35 million replace themselves, the total then moves to 42 million people. Forty-two million lives snuffed out of our economy and they were never able to go to the prom either. We sacrificed our own flesh and blood at the altar of convenience and at the altar of preserving our own flawed reputations. We sat while we murdered a generation of our people. America, our hands in this are not clean…

Because of this accident, I heard really sad things being said on the radio; things written on the internet and in local papers. What’s happening to us? Yes, what was done was, and is, and will forever be wrong. Can we forgive her?

Jesus taught His disciples to pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” In our rush to judgment, have we forgotten what Jesus taught us?

I’m sure some of you consider me a milk toast mush headed Bible thumper; so be it. Whether we like it or not, Jesus calls us to complete obedience to his will. He should be Lord of our whole life. If He isn’t Lord of our whole life, He is not our Lord at all. Wake up.

In our rush to condemn all illegal immigrants, remember they are children of our Heavenly Father also. While we rush to judgment, may I remind you, as a fill-in lay preacher, I have preached in over 30 different churches in West and Central Minnesota and I have yet to fine one church with a ministry to reach Latinos or Hispanic people. God forbid we would ever stir from our comfortable pews. Let’s be honest, we don’t even look at them or wave at them as we pass by on our way down the street. I must be fair, this is a two way street and the Latino community has not always been open and willing to embrace the American culture.

Brothers and sisters, if ever, now is the time to keep our head. Now is the time for committed Christians of all races and ethnic groups to rise above the anger, hate, and bitterness. We must forgive. Why? Because Jesus said so. Let’s confess our own sin of indifference. Indifference to the millions aborted, indifference to our political situation and confess our sin and indifference of sharing Christ with our neighbors and co-workers. “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.” Jesus said that, we must obey. We must do it.

Micah, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said it best in Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

We must pray for the families, the community and yes, even the woman driver. We must act justly, we must seek justice in this case and we must love mercy, like Christ has loved us. Then, yes then, we will walk humbly with our God.


Lee Shelton said...

Amen, Jerry.

Andrew D. Seehusen said...

Sir, I agree 100%

Anonymous said...

Uncle Jerry,
I have been praying for the same realization to move in people up there. My friend Joe Dollerschell and I had a discussion about the accident and concerns about how people would react. Keep the encouragement going for those believers that read your awesome blog and remember "Don't expect Christian behavior from non-Christians", it makes it alot easier for me to not get upset and it gives me more people to pray for! Miss you guys,