Mother and Children Together Again
By Laura Rampersad, Site Director
The 1st Ruth we all know from the Book of Ruth. She and her sister Orpah were Moabites living with their Israelite husbands and their family. When disaster takes their husbands and father-in-law, Ruth’s distraught mother-in-law tells them, “Go back, my daughters!” Naomi tells them that she can no longer provide for them and they should go back to their own people. Orpah protests then concedes, but Ruth loves Naomi as family, and that transforming love to her becomes more important than nationality or tribe, and she stays.
I doubt that any of you know the 2nd Ruth. Ruth was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and after losing her mother at a young age, she decided to come north to the U.S. In Texas, she met up with a farm labor recruiter bringing people to Michigan to pick fruit. There she met a man, a U.S. Citizen, and fell in love. They got married and had three beautiful children together, but they also had problems. He abused her physically and emotionally and was convicted twice for that crime. Unfortunately, domestic violence happens in all kinds of families, but for abused immigrants it is harder to escape. Ruth’s husband never filed papers to adjust her status and promised her that if she ever tried to leave him, he would arrange for her to be deported and she would never see her children again. Ruth finally had enough and sought a divorce. But when she went to her child custody hearing, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement were there to arrest her. She went to jail and her husband and his family went home with children (the youngest only six months old). To our government, she is just another “illegal.”
Luckily, there is a 3rd Ruth, Ruth Chisnall, a JFON-West Michigan volunteer. Because of the 3rd Ruth, we have been able to serve and comfort the 2nd Ruth, with many visits in jail, and by preparing a petition under a special federal law called the “Violence Against Women Act.” With God’s grace, we were able to secure Ruth’s release, prevent her deportation, and reunite her with her children.
God gave us the story of the 1st Ruth to show us something about love and the 3rd Ruth to hear the story and act on her faith through service to the 2nd Ruth.
*Not her real name. Picture by Jonas Kakaroto Honorato