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Sam Donaldson is a Quaker who lives in Hull, England. He was part of a Churches Together in Britain and Ireland delegation that visited migrant and refugee programs of Mediterranean Hope and the Waldensian Church of Italy in Lampedusa and Sicily in April 2017. This poem is his response to a conversation across a table with a young woman who had recently arrived in Italy.

The delegation spent time with the TenClay Family (RCA missionaries) in Palermo, Sicily, who shared about their work with migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of human trafficking and exploitation.

This poem was originally shared by Focus on Refugee: A Programme of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, and is reprinted here with permission by the author.

No Borders
cross this table
lies the great divide.
Waited on by angels, I fly
that down there in the dark
she lies, crammed beneath the deck,
coughing on fumes, gasping for air,
her demons,
kidnap, rape, forced prostitution,
company on this bitter journey
through hell itself.
Across this table
I begin to wake up
to this great divide.
All I’ve known,
privilege, comfort, security,
she has never known.
Sitting only a table width apart,
still she cannot cross this divide,
for I was born white, British,
and she was not.
This shameful State does its worst
through bureaucratic checks,
detention centres (prison yards)
and deportation flights,
keeping the likes of her
a million miles away
from the likes of me.
Across the table
lies the great divide.

RCA missionaries, such as JJ TenClay, rely solely on financial support from individuals, groups, and churches to continue their work. Learn more about JJ’s work as the Refugee Ministries Coordinator for RCA Global Mission and pledge financial support for her ministry here.

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We believe there is a clear biblical mandate to care for people on the move, including those who are involuntarily or forcibly displaced from their homes and are seeking refuge. Will you join us?