Following President Donald Trump’s announcement in September that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program enacted by President Barack Obama would be rescinded and it would be up to Congress to resolve an issue affecting the lives of nearly 800,000 people brought to the United States illegally as children by their parents, Matthew Lucio, pastor of the Charles City, Hampton and Mason City churches, traveled to Washington, D.C. to share his personal convictions with Congress. Below are his reflections from the trip.
I stood in a Washington, D.C. congressional office, confused at what I had just heard. A top aide had just told a group of pastors that the congressman he worked for was a Christian. One of the pastors then made a casual remark about being reassured that the congressman was a religious man. The aide was quick to correct the pastor: “I didn’t say he was religious. He wouldn’t describe himself as religious.”
Silence followed as 10 preachers tried to make sense of that comment. Surely the congressman was aware that Christianity was a religion—in fact the largest religion in the world?
We had arrived in Washington specifically to talk to Congress about helping those benefiting from DACA, all of whom pay taxes and are required to hold or work toward a degree. In the case of many, they also attend church. With recent political events, these individuals, once assured of a stable life provided they worked hard and stayed out of trouble, were at risk.
One of these kids goes to my church. I went to Washington to let Congress know I believe Christian legislators should be looking out for them. It’s not a conservative or liberal issue—and I was heartened to find compassion from members of both political parties.
The trip became about more than advocating for the vulnerable in our midst; it also became a chance to talk to legislators about their faith. We had prayer in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office with some rather bewildered aides. We prayed over meals in the House cafeteria.
It seems there’s a lot of spiritual confusion among even professed Christian congresspersons. I shared Lev. 19:33-34, which tells the ancient Israelites to treat the foreigners as if they were citizens.
“Well,” came a reply, “you cannot expect us to make the Bible into law.”
“Of course not,” I responded. “But as a matter of principle, shouldn’t these ancient laws inform Christian attitudes on modern problems?”
While the response to my question wasn’t reassuring, I felt satisfied that a group of pastors was able to let their representatives know that they care not only about Dreamers, but also about our representatives. Caring for “the least of these” often takes us to the food pantry, but sometimes it takes us to Capitol Hill. It felt good to go the extra mile to speak for that member of my congregation.
I also realized I need to pray more for our members of Congress. It’s easy to dismiss “Washington” as many dismal things, but there are Christians there who are earnestly trying to sort out what it means to be a Christian legislator. They face confusing and compromising pressures you and I do not.
Won’t you join me in praying for them?