Jesús Martinez, who shared his story at a recent immigration workshop, is grateful for the support of Faith Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas. It’s one of several congregations in Western District Conference (WDC) that are embracing the call to welcome strangers as friends in Christ.
Martinez–an agronomist with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture who lost everything after a U.S. farm bill dashed farming pursuits in his homeland–moved from Mexico to the United States in 2006. Later, his wife, Brenda, and two children, Jesús Jr. and Alejandra, joined him in Newton, where their once-barren life is transforming into a blessing because of the support of local Mennonites.
“It’s amazing what Mennonite people can do with faith,” he said at the regional immigration workshop, “Citizens of God’s Kingdom,” sponsored March 1-2 by Mennonite Church USA and WDC at Hope Mennonite Church in Wichita, Kansas.
Sessions were led by MC USA and MCC staff at the gathering attended by over 100 participants. The presenters were Jason B. Boone, coordinating minister for Mennonite Church USA’s Peace and Justice Support Network; Tammy Alexander, senior legislative associate, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. Washington Office; and Saulo Padilla, MCC U.S. immigration education coordinator.
They shared how issues of economics, militarization, safety, and religious freedom have driven immigration in all times and how those issues impact the 21st century specifically.
“I applaud WDC for addressing issues that are easy to push under the rug because they impact people who are in the shadows of our communities,” Boone said.
“The participants here are becoming more informed,” said Padilla, “and as they become more informed, they will, one person at a time, help the entire church to know how important immigration issues are to us as citizens in God’s kingdom.”
Want to host a workshop in your region? Contact Tammy Alexander at TammyAlexander@mcc.org.
Adapted by permission from Western District Conference’s WDC Garden, April/May 2013, by Laurie Oswald Robinson.