On August 12th-15th, 2015 more than 15 Immigrant Connection BIA Representatives gathered together at Olathe Wesleyan, the second Immigrant Connection Site to be launched in The Wesleyan Church. This gathering enabled us to continue to pursue Rev. Frankie Rodriguez' vision two years ago when he said he wanted to see an Immigrant Connection site in every District of The Wesleyan Church. David Drury, Chief of Staff at the Wesleyan Church Headquarters, was also present at the meeting and stated, "I am so proud of this group. I'm amazed to think that just two years ago we had not yet started this work as The Wesleyan Church and now we are on pace to have 12 sites nation-wide by early to mid-2016. This group was diligent, fun to be with, and ever-passionate about the task."
Immigrant Connection sites in our churches offer low-cost legal service where representatives are accredited by the US Board of Immigration Appeals when the sites themselves are recognized. The ministry began in 2013 as an initiative of the Office of the General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, Dr Lyon, who by video said to those gathered at the event: "I cannot believe all the depth and significance of the training that is happening at this! I believe God is going to use this ministry in ways we cannot yet even grasp.... Thank you for being the people who have been pioneers in this.... This is the kingdom of God at work."
Immigrant Connection centers have become pillars for the communities surrounding these sites and it was a great time for this team of pioneers to stop and examine the who, what, where, when, how and most importantly why we do what we do. A reoccurring theme throughout the four day retreat was, "we do it because of the lost."
When the day of Pentecost came in Acts 2 and all stood confused and marveled at the jambalaya of languages and cultures the truth was brought to their attention, it says in Acts 2:37, "when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Later in verse 45 it states that together "they broke bread in their homes and ate with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of ALL people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." J.D. Payne states "It is missionally malignant if we travel the world to reach people but are not willing to walk across the street." Have you ever realized that we have an opportunity similar to Pentecost right outside our doorstep?
"When it comes to the question of ministering among immigrants in our country, we have to remind ourselves that God has good timing: At Pentecost the early church had the unique opportunity to speak the good news to cultures from around the world that were gathered in one place at one time. In America, we now have a diverse Pentecost opportunity right in front of us every single day and we have to ask: does God still have good timing?" –David Drury
Those at the event came from the following Wesleyan Districts: South Carolina (Rev. Frankie Rodriguez), Indiana North (Rev. Zach Szmara and Courtney Penarandas), Kansas (Rev. Jim Wood and Carole Freemon), West Michigan (Katie White), South Coastal (Rev. Dan and Anita Bosworth), Mountain Plains (Rev. Reid Hettich, Rev. Blaine Derck, Claudia Miguel and Sharla Gottschalk), Pacific Southwest (Rev. Tuma Johnson and Rev. Paul Santillo) , Indiana Central (Pastor Keith Moreen and Raleigh Macon) and the Tri State District (Rev. Nathan Hedge).
These sites (soon to number over 12) are being the hands and feet of Jesus to more than
5,284,776 undocumented immigrants in these states (Center for Migration Studies).
Looking ahead, and with the unshakable certainty that God has GREAT timing, we believe and look forward to seeing an Immigrant Connection center in all 31 Wesleyan Districts by mid-2016, 5 Wesleyan churches of over 500 with an Immigrant Connection site ready to be launched by January 2015 and 10 Churches planted with an Immigrant Connection center as part of their strategy from day one by mid-2016. When the focus is on the "why we do it" and we allow God to take care of the "how and when" you can truly see the timing of Pentecost.