A Modern Day Ruth: An Immokalee Story

Lynne with Ruth and Charlie.Photo courtesy of Lynne Cassell

Lynne with Ruth and Charlie.
Photo courtesy of Lynne Cassell

We all know and love the story of Ruth in the Old Testament, who left her homeland to travel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to a strange land and then worked in the fields to provide for her. I have met and had my heart broken by another Ruth, a precious young girl from Guatemala who is now living in Immokalee, Florida and trying to find a way to support herself and her new baby, as well as the young daughter she had to leave behind in Guatemala.

Here is part of her story:

After being married at a very young age and giving birth to a little girl, Ruth’s husband left to come to the United States to be able to provide for his family. He later asked her to join him, and even though it was very difficult to leave her daughter behind with her in-laws, she left for the U.S., hoping that by coming she could provide for her child. She paid a “coyote”, a man who charges to take people through Mexico and across the border, and joined the group of men he was leading. It was a terrifying journey for Ruth, who, while trying to hop a train, was separated from the ones she was traveling with and found herself alone on a boxcar of a train. She stood crying on the boxcar all night, cold, afraid, and so very sad. When the train stopped, she found the others and continued with them on the long arduous journey through Mexico.

After the train, they began the trek through the desert, with five days and nights of walking with very little food and a continual thirst for water. Ruth remembers that there was a time that she fainted and would have died if one of the men had not carried her.

Ruth was finally re-united with her husband in the Nashville, TN area. After three months together, her husband was deported, leaving Ruth without a husband again and expecting a baby. Her sister-in-law, who she was staying with, told Ruth that if she did not abort the baby that she would have to leave. Ruth felt she could not abort the baby. She called her sister and brother-in-law in Immokalee and told them she wanted to keep the baby. They drove from south Florida to Tennessee to get her and bring her back to live with them. Ruth gave birth to a beautiful baby boy that she calls “my Charlie”. In Immokalee, Ruth began to go to Bethel Church with her sister. Frank Rincon of World Vision and the church community are very supportive, yet it is a hard road for Ruth and many others in the migrant communities. I only know that if we truly discern God’s word we can learn wisdom from Him in how He wants us to behave toward and care for ALL His children.

“Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. “Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”…”May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” from Ruth 2:4,8,9, 12

by Lynne Cassell, WOV Chicago, IL

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  1. […] Earlier this month, Women of Vision visited a migrant community in Immokalee, Florida. This community, supported by Women of Vision Southwest Florida, is home to girls eager to learn, close-knit families and farmers who support each other and feed the community. People who fill the community come from different backgrounds and circumstances and the truth is that some are in the United States legally and others were driven here by varying circumstances and are currently undocumented. […]

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