My mother put me in piano lessons when I was five years old. And though I learned sonatas and waltzes, Beethoven and Mozart, I was learning to play piano to serve the Lord. My mother has always been involved in every facet of church life, and so she thought it would be a good plan to have a piano-playing kid. “Churches always need a piano player,” she would say. From an early age, I understood that the purpose of being a pianist was to serve the Lord.
One day, years later, I decided to go to law school and become an attorney. And though I was learning constitutional law and legal procedure, due process and civil rights, I was learning it all to serve the Lord.Everyone’s situation is unique, yet every story has the same plot and every person the same plea.
My decision to practice immigration law was simple. I was born and raised in the U.S. while living in Hispanic culture. Everyone around me seemed to be from somewhere else. My church had people from all over Latin America. The immigrant and the immigrant experience were as common as anything else at church. Being an immigration attorney was an obvious fit.
Today I serve people from our BIC church family who need guidance and help with their immigration matters. I represent undocumented men, women, children, and families. Everyone’s situation is unique, yet every story has the same plot and every person the same plea. The pain and fear and desperation of so many people weigh on me. I pray, “God, please give me grace. Give me wisdom. Give me favor to be of help.”
One of the many times I have prayed this prayer has been in the case of David*, a 22-year-old young man detained in immigration custody for being in the U.S. without documentation. He’s been there since October 2013. We prayed every time we met. We prayed every time we went before the judge.
I filed paperwork. I prepared for trial. Together, we went before the judge knowing we would not have a successful outcome. We prayed after we lost our case. I was overwhelmed with sadness thinking of all that losing his case meant for David’s present and future.
He’ll be sent back to his country in a couple of weeks. He’ll be returning to a country he doesn’t want to return to, and leaving a country he doesn’t want to leave.
But before he leaves, we will pray.
David didn’t get the outcome he so desperately wanted, but Jesus showed up and met with him every time we prayed.
Sometimes practicing law is like practicing the piano: It’s hard, and I don’t always want to do it. But I do it because the Church always needs people to help the “least of these.” I am an attorney so that I can serve the Lord.
*For reasons of confidentiality, this individual’s name has been changed.
Adapted from “Calling: Stories of everyday people loving God & neighbor in extraordinary ways,” an article for the winter 2014 issue of BIC U.S.’ In Part magazine.