To be or not to be involved with ministry to immigrants in the United States? That is the question Christians must askboth nationally and locally. At the church I pastor in Delaware, I am discovering that believers' answers are as diverse as the countries from which our congregants come. The issue is indeed complex. But perhaps the experience of our multiethnic congregation, All Nations Fellowship, may help frame evangelicalism's answer.
All Nations Fellowship (PCA) is a three-year-old church planted halfway between Baltimore/Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia/New York City. The region is packed with immigrants. Between D.C. and Delaware alone, there are over 195 nationalities represented. What is drawing them here? Economic liberty. And what is attracting them into evangelical churches? English classes and community meals, served with Christian love in an ethnically diverse environment.
"There were men, women, and children of color everywhere!" exclaims Luis, an adventurous young father from poverty-stricken Guatemala. He was describing his first Sabbath at All Nations Fellowship. Luis works several minimum-wage jobs to support his family and was attracted to our congregation by our conversational ESL (English as a Second Language) classescomplete with a free meal and childcare. He hoped the classes would help him improve his communication skills and move toward U.S. citizenship.
Along the way, he became friends with ANF member Ignacioa legal immigrant from Venezuela who has a 'white-collar' job in center-city Wilmington. Other ESL class members included Eva from Iran and Young from Korea. Together, this trio exemplifies the three groups that our church (and the American church nationwide) encounters in ...1
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