The following was written by guest author Wesley Menke
I am a youth minister. I am also passionate about issues of world hunger. My greatest hope—vocationally—is to bring these two worlds together. I hope to be a part of empowering a generation of young people to actively live out their faith by ending world hunger. The youth of our church have learned how to serve in New Orleans, they’ve learned how to give at the Souper Bowl of Caring offering, but I wonder if they have learned how to have a prophetic voice.
On January 19 I stood on the Mexican side of the US/Mexico border at the edge of the Pacific. Have you ever seen a 30 foot tall wall run into the ocean? It is bizarre. On this fence hang thousands of small white crosses connected by rope. Each cross represents someone who has died trying to cross the border. This day the wind was blowing and it was stormy. As I walked along the fence I heard the crosses rattling against each other and thumping against the metal fence. This rattling sound reminded me of Ezekiel, a prophet of the Hebrew Bible. God told Ezekiel to prophesy to a valley of dry bones, and Ezekiel responded: “So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone” (Ezekiel 37:7). Then, flesh covers the bones, and eventually the breath of life fills the people.
Many migrants who cross the border die of starvation. But migrants try to cross the border because they are starving to begin with. The result is a valley of dry bones.
God is calling for prophets like Ezekiel. In addition to teaching young people how to give and to serve—two essential traits of Christianity—let’s teach them how to speak prophetically. And like all things the best way to teach is by leading through example.
I discovered more of my own prophetic voice when I visited the border fence during the four days I spent in Mexico in January of this year. I attended the conference, “Developing Hearts that Yearn for Justice” a bi-annual ecumenical and theological conference that takes place in San Diego and Tijuana. I’d like to say thank you to ELCA World Hunger and Transformational World Opportunities for the opportunity to attend.
Wesley Menke is a youth minister at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in San Clemente, CA and first year seminarian seeking ordination in the ELCA.