“What’s DACA?” my eight-year-old son asked the other day.
“DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” I told him. “It was a program that allowed children brought to this country without proper paperwork to stay here, as long as they meet certain requirements.”
“What do you mean ‘proper paperwork?’” he asked.
“In order to be in this country legally, you need paperwork saying you can be here,” I answered.
He looked at me like I was crazy. “You need a piece of paper? People are being sent away because they don’t have a piece of paper?! I thought this was the United States.”
I could see his little hands clenching into fists at his sides. My son tends toward what his psychologist calls “rigid thinking patterns,” meaning that his world is very binary. There is right, and there is wrong. Clearly, denying someone the right to live in the land they call home is wrong. And although we work with him to increase his ability to be flexible in his thinking, quite often I tend to feel the way he sees the world is actually pretty accurate.
“So, what are we going to do about it?” he asked.
“We’re going to pray,” I said.
READ: Sleeping with Dreams of Justice
Evangelicals for Social Action recently launched a prayer campaign called #PrayforDREAMers, a national movement of public prayer on behalf of young people brought to the United States as children, who now face the risk of deportation unless Congress passes a clean DREAM Act to provide a path to citizenship. We’re asking people to pray with us every Thursday at 5:00 PM until clean legislation is passed.
(The exact day and time are less important than the regular commitment to public prayer—although my son would probably insist on Thursdays at 5:00 PM sharp.)
At Evangelicals for Social Action we believe that our prayers are prophetic, claiming the imminent and overwhelming reality that all humans, regardless of their country of origin, are made in the image of God. And our prayers are a plea for God’s wisdom for the church and for legislators as they work to implement a humane solution to a political crisis with profound implications on the lives and well-being of vulnerable young people.
As a sign of solidarity with DREAMers, we’re asking people to hold a green index card when they pray — a symbol of the “proper paperwork” that DREAMers seek. We’re also partnering with the Christian Community Development Association to collect prayers written on these green cards, prayers that will be delivered to Washington, D.C., on December 5th.
I loaded my five children into the minivan and drove to an intersection not far from our house. With green cards held aloft, we prayed that God would help Congress pass a clean DREAM Act. We prayed for all the families affected by this legislation, we prayed for children who are not so different from mine, but who are now facing an uncertain future because of artificially created boundary lines. We prayed because we believe in the power of prayer, and because prayer is something we can do.
So much of the world my children are growing up in is confusing and discouraging. My older children repeatedly express frustration that there is so little we can do—we feel helpless in the face of racism, legislation, and institutional discrimination.
But we can pray. And holding our green cards makes our prayers feel tangible, something we can hold and touch and send out into the world.
When we finished praying, we took a few moments to write down our prayers on our cards. My children’s prayers were varied; the 12-year-old understands concepts like “clean legislation” while the six-year-old still needs help to spell “pray” and “peace” and “love.” As I collected the cards, my eight-year-old blurted out, “Can I eat my card?”
(I should probably mention that his sensory issues cause him to chew on things. And although we have a veritable treasure trove of “replacement behaviors” at the ready, eating paper is still, always, his preference.)
I was trying to decide if not eating the prayer card was going to be my hill to die on, when he paused, green card halfway to his open mouth.
“Actually, I don’t want to eat this,” he said. “This is a prayer. This is important. I want to send this to Washington, D.C.”
And send it we did.
Will you pray with us? Will you join with my family and countless others across the nation who are committing to pray for DREAMers? With this small but visible step, we are making a public commitment to prayer on behalf of the thousands of lives affected by DACA.
Join us as we #PrayforDREAMers:
- On your own: take a green index card, go to the intersection nearest you, and pray the Lord’s prayer or your own prayer for healing, justice, and a legislative solution for DREAMers.
- In a group: take posters (available for free download) and green index cards, and go to a visible intersection in your city. Pray the Lord’s Prayer and hold a vigil for 15-30 minutes, praying as you are led.
- At key legislative moments: Gather for prayer around government symbols (a border wall, a federal office building, a flagpole) and offer prayers for healing, justice, and the passage of a clean DREAM Act. You can sign up to receive an email notification when there’s something urgent you should know.
The #PrayforDREAMers prayer campaign will end when Congress passes clean legislation that ensures the security and stability of families and honors the image of God in every person.
Let us pray.