#FreeSamuel: The Prophetic Witness of Samuel Oliver-Bruno


Last February (2018) I met Samuel Oliver-Bruno in Durham, NC, where he lived in sanctuary at CityWell United Methodist church. I was deeply moved by his prophetic witness of love born out of the fire of U.S. state violence against him and his family.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno

Samuel Oliver-Bruno

He found himself in prison, he told me, and convicted of the crime of traveling across borders for the love of his family and to seek proper medical care for his wife suffering from Lupus. Confused and angry, he told me of the nine chapters in the Bible that came to form a daily prayer for him. This daily prayer he said brought him liberation while still in a prison cell from the hostility and anger that clouded his mind with despair. These are mostly his words I copied into my journal that he shared that day.

When he turned to the first scripture in Psalm chapter 5, the childhood memories of imagining my enemies outside and threatening the U.S. were indicted for the evil they hid of the empire of violence and wickedness all empires pose as the sovereign in our lives.

The prophetic witness of Samuel is all the more relevant as he has again been violently captured from his community and returned to a prison cell for deportation at the hands of our enemy – the United States government and police forces. I imagine Samuel is praying again this morning, and I’m praying with him today that God will destroy his enemies.

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.

Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Call to Action: On Friday, November 23, Samuel Oliver-Bruno was detained by ICE on his way to comply with a routine immigration appointment. He was quickly moved to the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, where USCIS refused to grant his petition to pursue legal immigration. ICE can now deport him at any moment. 

We need to let our voices be heard in support of Samuel. We need your help to bring him home NOW. Please get on the phone, get on social media—let’s do all we can to bring Samuel home. Follow these step-by-step instructions and calling guides from Alerta Migratoria NC. #FreeSamuel

Update: Sadly, Samuel Oliver-Bruno was deported to Mexico less than a week after being detained by ICE. We grieve with the Oliver family. In agreement with the statement from the CityWell Church in Durham, “While we will not stop pursuing justice, in these moments we will simply stand in the solidarity of grief with our loved ones. Please continue praying for Samuel, Julia, and Daniel.” Please visit sanctuaryatcitywell.org to contribute to Samuel, Julia and Daniel.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno (Photos by  Steve Pavey / Hope in Focus )

Samuel Oliver-Bruno (Photos by Steve Pavey / Hope in Focus)

Steve Pavey