OHIO FLOOD RECOVERY
The West Ohio Disaster Response Committee is looking for volunteers. Many areas are still in recovery from flooding and they need help finishing these projects up. Please contact jwalker [at] alink.com (Jeff Walker )to set up volunteering opportunities in Ohio!
WATER FOR FLINT
UMCOR has been actively working in Flint since October of 2015. They will be needing volunteers, water donations and financial help this year. Contact Peter Plum 810.624.5577 for ways to help. You can also give to the UMCOR Advance 901670. All your money given to this advance will go to US Disaster Response.
The Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham, Ill. is in need of supplies to restock the warehouse. MMDC has sent all of the stockpiled Cleaning Buckets to Louisiana following the flooding this winter. They are in need of the materials that make up Cleaning Buckets and Personal Health Kits. To see what makes up a Health Kit Click Here. To learn what goes into a Cleaning Bucket Click Here. To arrange delivery to MMDC contact jwalker [at] alink.com (Jeff Walker), Conference Disaster Response Coordinator.
Written by larrykreps [at] yahoo.com on behalf of the W.O.C. U.M.C Immigration Task Force. To learn more about how you can be involved here.
“We Think We’re in Heaven”
The Council at Church asked him, “Can you help?” A Congolese family came to church every week for five months, walking across a field from their apartment. They bought a SUV, only to find the rear latch would not release. They needed help. Ken is semi-retired, raised by parents who reminded him consistently God made him to be a blessing. One of his blessings is fixing things. Computer programs, computers, cars, industrial machines, and house projects yield to his blessing.
Ken also has concerns about immigration. If you come to follow our laws, succeed, and help others, then okay. Learn the language. If you come to suck off money from tax payers and take advantage of others, then not okay. He feels it would be absurd, immoral, and yet cost effective, if we shot a few people coming over the border illegally, thereby discouraging illegals. He fears for the persons 'left behind' in depressed areas when the best and brightest emigrate to America.
Despite the concerns, Ken said yes to the latch. He took the Dad to a pull-and-pay junk yard, located a latch and as a bonus four tires with tread. The Dad watched Ken intently, soon mastering wrench, nuts, bolts and mechanical systems. One fix led to another and soon ten other Congolese families were learning car and home repair from Ken and the Dad.
Then a family from Nepal moved next door to Ken. Struggling with English, they came to Ken for aid filling out a form. Ken led them through the English, letting struggle lead to understanding. Ken has been in eight Nepalese homes aiding with forms and repairs. They call him “Grandpa” and invite him to Buddhist parties. He thought he’d be worn out by now, but has yet to say, “No.” Jesus helped people, so should he.
Ken asked his Nepalese neighbors, “How do you like living in the U.S.?” They answered, “We think we are in heaven!”
Ken hopes he helped with that feeling.
Kathi is a law and order person, reflecting a generational response to chaos. Her grandparents emigrated from Italy to Franklin in northwest Pennsylvania prior to W.W. II, fleeing the disorder of nation and economics. Kathi’s mom Maria Nicola, tightly ordered life to avoid taunts of “Wap!” and ridicule for her parents’ heavily accented English. The school registrar misunderstood the pronunciation of ‘Maria Nicola’ so for elementary school she was called ‘Marigold,’ a beautiful name unless you are structuring your life to avoid notice. Law and order birthed Maria’s revenge by becoming high school valedictorian.
Kathi grew up in the same town as her grandparents emigrated. Her high school Spanish teachers introduced her to a new kind of immigrant. They fled Cuba during the 1960’s communist revolution. Professors and part of the ruling class, their death was certain unless they escaped. Their stories revealed how dramatically one’s life could change from order to dis-order.
Eventually called to the order of clergy, Kathi served an urban church with a growing Spanish speaking population. She overheard her Anglo members in the hallways wondering how they could connect with their new neighbors. Soon they offered an English as a Second Language Course (ESL) taught by their own members. Kathi carried this experience with her to her new church on the other side of the city. There folks from Somalia and Ghana were settling. More ESL classes came to be. The Ghanaians started using the building for worship. The Gahnian pastor was the only one in his family with a green card allowing him to work. Securing a green card can take years and is expensive, but the pastor was so inspiring on the phone with the immigration agent, the agent prayed with him and helped the green cards for the whole family arrive in three months.
Another move to another urban area placed Kathi with a community of undocumented immigrants. She witnessed the miracle of perseverance amid fear. One family fled their homeland seeking a better life. There was no school in the village for their children and the only employment was making bricks by hand. Here their children are legally in school as the parents work, pay taxes and social security despite being illegal. They know one simple traffic ticket could send them as parents to a detention center with no rights. The risk is outweighed by the hope they have for their children.
Last fall ESL classes resumed at her church. One 2 ½ year old boy entered, recognized where he was, jumped and thrust his arms in the air with joy. He was back! Kathi chuckled, her heart fully engaged in God’s messy mysterious love for all.
“A Fast Faith”
He came on a tourist visa in 2017. Joined by his wife, two children, and luggage they debarked in the US. After vacation, they would return to their house in Columbia and careers as architect and physical therapist. God intervened.
As the vacation unfolded, visiting family in Ohio, the same God who got hold of his grandfather and father captured his future. Both his grandfather and father were pastors in Columbia and now God was calling him to stay in Ohio and be a youth pastor and worship leader for a Hispanic United Methodist Church. His wife and children agreed.
Now he waits for a student visa. The wait has become a year. Whenever it is approved he will begin seminary, as he is already accepted and grants for tuition secured. One fortunate aspect of being in process is he has an official ID that allows him to have a driver’s license. In the meantime he continues to serve as an interpreter in a UMC legal clinic and as youth pastor and worship leader.
The wait is grinding. Faith weakens. Can they persevere through the restrictions imposed by their immigration status and lack of income? Inevitably, when faith is weak an opportunity to help someone reignites the call. Hearing stories of other immigrants and sharing his own brings a comforting affirmation. Faith is the confidence in things unseen. His family keeps the faith. They cling to their call scripture,
“ And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane and hold fast my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”