by Norma Gunter
The American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus Resource circle program for June is See…Angles Among Us. The scripture is Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 12:1-2. “What is the difference between an immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeker? Often immigrants come for a better life. Many ‘illegal immigrants’ are people who overstayed their tourist, work, or study visas. Refugees come to escape persecution. Asylum seekers fear for their lives. How do we treat one another? What are our moral and biblical obligations toward the stranger?”
Juan Aragon, Strategist with the West Virginia Baptist Convention is from Nicaragua. He works with Hispanic Ministries and writes articles for “The West Virginia Baptist Newsletter”. In the December/January 2016 issue he writes about Building Bridges to Share God’s Love. He says, “The times and culture we live in require our commitment to be bridge builders to share God’s love. We need followers of Jesus who are intentional about making real and meaningful connections with people from different languages, beliefs, values, behaviors, customs and attitudes. God is the Master Bridge Builder. Because of His unfailing love and grace, God sent His Son to die for us, and in doing so He bridged the gap separating us from Him (John 3:16). As the Father, Jesus was a Master Bridge Builder. He invested lots of time building relationships. He overcame ethnic, social, gender, cultural, political and religious barriers separating us from each other and from God. (Galatians 3:28) He connected to and transformed the lives of the unwanted of His time: lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors”.
Several years ago God led West Virginia Baptists to start a Hispanic Church, Iglesia Bautista Comunidad Nueva Esperanza. Good Hope and Parkersburg Associations have partnered with the new church. Many of the people of the new church are from southern Mexico and Guatemala. Juan wrote in the April/May 2016 “West Virginia Baptist Newsletter”, “They have come to the United States not only fleeing the dire conditions they face in their improvised communities, but also seeking opportunities that will allow them to give their families a more dignified life.” He says they are some of the hardest working people, but “they are not seen, not heard and often forgotten. In spite of their hard work, these families and their children usually live in poverty, making them one of the most disadvantaged and at-risk groups in the United States.”
These local churches work together to provide a meal each Saturday during June, July, and August for the migrant workers. They prepare the meal and then go to the fields where they are working long hours, in the hot sun, picking tomatoes on farms along the Ohio River. They also pray for them and sometimes give them hygiene kits. The churches are getting ready for the summer and ask for our prayers as they share God’s love with the migrant workers. They also need churches to partner with them by donating basic hygiene kits. How can we help?
Jim Ramsey has been working with Spanish speaking prisoners at the Federal Prison for years. He taught himself to speak Spanish. Several of us drove to Lewisburg, to take Conversational Spanish classes, for two years when we were going on mission work tours. I’ve forgotten most of it.
Juan and his wife Denise have been endorsed as American Baptist missionaries to Chiapas, Mexico. They will spend the next year raising money for their support. Another place to help!