Unexpected Resurrection Figures: the Houston Police Chief

During this season, I try to look for the “small r” resurrections that surround us if we pay attention. These ground the “capital R” Resurrection in our daily experience and somehow make it even more meaningful.

One of the most heartening recent news stories was that of Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, who refused administration orders to deport an 11-year old girl without her family. They had fled death threats from the MS-13 gang in El Salvador. She had made all 10 of her appointments with ICE, but due to their clerical error, she was ordered back to El Salvador alone. Understandably, she’s terrified of MS-13 awaiting her return.

Then our hero steps in: Chief Acevedo defied the order. In his own words:

“We have 600,000+ immigrants in this city and ensuring they trust their police department is critical to our mission of keeping our city safe. Messages like yours must be what the German Police were told leading up to the Holocaust. Not this chief, not this Nation, not his time!”

Responding to criticism that he should stay out of politics and simply run his department, the Chief tweeted:

“Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well. You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! You’d have to kill me to take my child from me simply because I was trying to get them to a better place for a better tomorrow. I am glad to be on the right side of history.”

Although news reports may have distorted the story, and it’s always possible there’s a different angle here, his stance echoes another one in history; Acevedo himself alluded to the Nazi regime. After the Nazis invaded Holland, the ten Boom family began sheltering Jews, resistance for which they paid the price in jail and concentration camps.

Corrie ten Boom’s book THE HIDING PLACE deserves its immense popularity, and one scene in it has particular resonance with the Houston situation, replicated now all over the US. When Corrie begs a pastor to hide a Jewish woman and her two-week old child in his rural, well hidden home, he refuses. “Definitely not. We could lose our lives for that Jewish child!”

Then Corrie’s elderly father intervenes, looking into the little face. “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.”

Indeed, he was prophetic. When the family is arrested, the chief interrogator gives the “old man” a chance to return home. His courageous response: “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door again to any [one] in need who knocks.” He would die in jail alone, without his beloved family.

How they continue to glow, these divine sparks that empower and blaze forth in human beings. Despite the surrounding gloom, they remind us of Resurrection.

See Kathy Coffey’s article on Columbine in the 4/15/19, 110th anniversary issue of America Magazine. Sadly, nothing significant has changed in gun control during the 20 years since it was first published.

One response to “Unexpected Resurrection Figures: the Houston Police Chief

  1. Karen Bessonny

    I just read the Hiding place while recently traveling in Holland. The inspiring story of bravery and forgiveness touched me deeply. Thanks for sharing.

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