The God Who Moved Into the Neighborhood

Last night I went to a meeting at church.  I had no idea why other than that I needed to go (and that it was being coordinated by two friends who I adore and love any excuse to spend time with them).

A call was put out to gather folks concerned about immigration issues taking place in our area:  what are legal ramifications, what is being done, how are we called to move?  The immigration population in my church neighborhood centers mostly around a Hispanic population (as opposed to Portland which also has a more diverse group of folks affected).

I don’t speak Spanish:  I took four years of high school French and spoke it very poorly.  I’m involved in ministries and life with Caucasian suburban working/stay-at-home moms and high school/college-age students.  But I needed to go.

Our church has a relationship with a Hispanic Friends church right across the street.  I’m not sure of the technicalities – whether we “started “the gathering, supported it monetarily, partnered with, worked alongside? ….  That’s part of the issue at hand.  The Hispanic faith community is living with these issues, but there seems to be a lack of communicating between us … at least a lack that I know about.

It’s always sketchy to talk about things I don’t know about:  I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth or cause more harm – this is simply my perception or experience.  I’m not casting blame, and if there’s a place where our faith community needs to apologize in an effort to connect and walk alongside each other, I hope we do that.

Other things I didn’t know:

  • A community garden is coming to Newberg with the hopes of helping folks in need.  It’s not necessarily in the midst of town, but it should be accessible.
  • A place called The Welcome Center at a local grade school assists immigrants with paperwork, finding ESL classes, living here, meeting needs.  They are in the midst of this.
  • Families are barely making ends meet; the immigration process contains endless loopholes; some people have the option to immigrate, but many don’t; the Hispanic culture places great important on relationships, many of which are left when upon immigration, which leaves them foundation-less – these relationships do not seem to be naturally taking place here.

I sat on a couch in the conference room next to my son munching on Teddy Grahams.  I wanted to bring him along:  didn’t know why.  Perhaps it’s a small step in helping him look beyond himself at how others live, to understand and be welcomed into our call as a family to walk alongside others and help, to get out of our comfort zones – admitting that we’re getting out of our comfort zones – and simply start with “I’m willing.”

My friend talked about “as we worship a God who moved into the neighborhood, we’re called to do the same.”  I don’t know my neighborhood, but I’m willing.

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