For those of you who don’t know me, I am the Director of the Immigrant Connection at City Life Church. Although I’m tempted to go into my elevator pitch about Immigrant Connection (IC), I’ll spare you the details (for now) and get to the good stuff. Don’t worry, you can always look us up online if you are interested in the specifics of our ministry!
The main takeaway from my work at IC for the purposes of this letter is that I have devoted my life to being an extension of the Church that loves and serves low-income immigrants and refugees in my community. Words cannot express the honor and privilege that it has been to come in each day and meet with men, women, and children who have survived unbelievable poverty, violence, and separation, but have found a way to push forward and create a new home in a new land anyway.
Like Maria, who fled the Cold War in Guatemala after watching her parents’ murders at age six, and ate trash to survive on her dangerous trek alone to the United States. Like Ahmed, a highly educated father who worked for a big tech company in Syria before fleeing his home with his family during a riot, barely escaping a crowd that slashed their tires and attempted to overturn their car as they drove away. Like Jose, a US citizen, originally from Mexico, who waited more than 25 years to be able to bring his adult, special needs brother to the United States so that he could be the one to care for him.
Each person shares the pain and struggle of their homeland, but also a deep love and longing for their place of origin. These connections have grown a longing in me as well. A longing to better understand why they had to leave a place they loved so much and a longing to experience the things that they loved. I know that this trip will be full of both beauty and pain and my greatest hope is that will deepen our team’s understanding of the history and realities of Central America, so that we might better serve immigrants and refugees here in the United States.