To better understand why the migrant caravan wants to reach the United States, the Rev. Gavin Rogers, associate pastor of Travis Park United Methodist Church , traveled to Mexico City last Friday as they were preparing to continue their journey.
“Everybody around me, they don’t call it a caravan. They call it an exodus, which is kind of a Biblical term if you think about it,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he wanted to hear their stories of rampant violence, corruption and poverty “that are often untold and misunderstood.”
He asked, “What would you do?”
Wanting a better life has a different meaning for the people in the caravan than it does in the United States.
“Really that means they just want to live. They want a life. They want to feed their family. They want to provide them shelter and education," Rogers said.
He said the group of 300 that he joined at one point broke away from the caravan to go their own way. As of Monday morning, they had reached Guadalajara after catching a ride on top of a large flatbed truck hauling huge steel beams.
“People started crawling, standing on top of the beams, under the beams, the cracks and crevices,” Rogers said.
He said it was just one of six modes of transportation that they took, even riding in the back of dump trucks.
He learned that many of the migrants are Christian evangelicals who were converted by American missionaries.
“We evangelize and we love thy neighbor as thyself. These are the same folks,” Rogers said.
But now that they’re trying to come to the United States, Rogers said, “We’re saying, ‘Nah. Why are they pushing the envelope? Why are they doing this illegally? Why are they forcing our hands? How dare they?'”
He said he’s even seen postings on his Facebook page by other Christians spreading fear of immigrants.
Rogers said he hopes by documenting his journey on Facebook, he can help change minds and hearts.
He said that by reading his accounts and seeing his photos and videos, “You can learn a love that these people have for each other and for their families.”
Rogers said he doesn't want to leave the caravan, but he hopes to return to San Antonio this week.
“I do know what acts of solidarity and love look like. That’s what I’ve been learning on this trip," he said.