The coolest thing about working with Immigrant Hope has been the death (well, if we’re honest, the modest diminution) of my cynicism about the evangelical church. Coming out of college, I was pretty sure that there were a handful of evangelical Christians at best truly trying to grapple with politically toxic social issues. Instead, of course, I discovered the reality of joining God’s work: He has agents in place everywhere already carrying out the plan in their own way. As I move around the country, I invariably find individuals and communities already primed with the vision we preach. Sometimes, they are just waiting for another piece of the puzzle to move forward. Other times, they are already off and running in creative, transformative ways we had never imagined.
We had a group like that in Concord, California for our class in November. For a host, we had Pastor Jeremy Cook and Concord Bible Church who welcomed us in the midst of a major vision transition and property reconfiguration because we fit the calling that’s moving them. Presenters included Dr. Marc Santamaria, Esq., who took two days from his practice and convinced several friends to do the same because of his zeal for the gospel. Diane Martinez, Director of Immigrant Hope – Santa Barbara, drove six hours to be with us for three days – one of the lesser sacrifices she’s made for the sake of Immigrant Hope since leaving her job for the ministry in 2013. Five Hispanic Assemblies of God churches in Tennessee pooled their resources to send nine students across the country. Chris, a Free Methodist pastor from Los Angeles, Skyped in to his wife’s naturalization ceremony, preferring to be with us to learn how to help others like her.
Each of our students, presenters, devotional speakers, hosts and partners were answering a sacrificial calling to serve the vulnerable, and most for the sake of the gospel. It really is a privilege to meet, learn from, and equip them all. So, through the haze of the Camp Fire smoke, we saw God’s beacon fires burning brightly across the nation.
- 26 students representing 8 states and 7 denominations
- 5 local presenters and speakers
- 3 meals provided for the class by local churches
- 9 volunteers from the church helping set up the room and serve meals
- 4 potential/developing Immigrant Hope sites