Border Crossing: A Series Introduction

November 4th, 2018

Border Crossing is a series of stories and essays from people who are serving in ministry at the US-Mexico line. We hope these reflections help church people discuss boundaries, borders, and border crossings.

When we cross a border, we discover people we otherwise would count as strangers. We become someone different. Stepping across a border changes how we see ourselves, how we perceive others, and how others view us. Border crossing helps us live in more than one world.

Border Crossing has two meanings. First, it’s a point of departure from one place and the entry point to another. It’s a threshold, a place of transition: “The border crossing is a few miles ahead.” Things will be different when we cross a border, even if we are uncertain about what to expect. Or a border crossing can be intangible, such as the point we cross within ourselves to decide to do something differently or the point of connection when we seek to understand someone unknown to us. 

Border Crossing also refers to an experience, such as “We had a difficult border crossing.” In this sense, a border crossing is movement, growth, transition, change, or stepping from one way of understanding to another.

Our lives are comprised of a succession of border crossings. The more adept we become at putting ourselves in situations that change our minds, the more we experience growth. We must cross borders in our communities if we are going to have a better world, because we are so polarized, distant, and distrustful of one another. Border crossing helps us co-exist despite language and cultural divides.

The collection of stories entitled Border Crossing explores borders—both the geographic and spiritual ones. It examines the spaces between one culture and another, and the inner hesitancies and fears that make crossing borders so challenging.

I grew up on the south Texas border with Mexico, experiencing both the intermingling and the clash of cultures. The Border Crossing stories capture real experiences. Some have a playful tone; others represent a fearful picking up of things that long ago I tried to lay to rest. The stories explore the intricacies and nuances of border crossings, and their utter necessity.

For me, border crossing has been done sporadically and imperfectly. At times I’m ashamed of my timidity, and other times I’m humbled by whom I meet and what I learn. The stories include moments of fear, hesitation, failure, resolve, growth. They describe early attempts at composing a life different from the one that was scripted for me.

Christ enters people’s lives and dissolves existing attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions, whatever they may be. Jesus asked his disciples to leave their nets, walk away from their mats, and journey away from their homes to follow him. He invites his followers to make becoming uncomfortable a spiritual discipline.

Jesus was a border crosser. He dined with tax collectors and sinners, breaching Pharisaic restrictions. He told stories of Samaritans, drawing people across borders indelibly etched in their minds, people who could not imagine a good Samaritan. He spoke with a foreign woman at a well, overstepping boundaries of propriety. He crossed borders, literally and figuratively, to reach the poor at the margins, Zacchaeus in the tree, and Nicodemus in the night. 

Border crossing should be as natural as breathing for Christians, you would think, because Jesus so instinctively knew that following God meant crossing borders. We are disciples because we have said Yes to Jesus, to following him, even across borders.

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