by Ken Gingerich for the SEED Project
Fernando Perez and Rebeca Torres returned to Mexico City in mid-October after a six-month exploratory visit to Mountain States Conference. They served as volunteers at Denver’s Casa de Paz, engaged with Beloved Community Church and visited a number of MSMC congregations in Colorado and New Mexico. They were especially helpful in their work with Casa de Paz where they shared directly in the experiences of immigrant asylum detainees as they were released from the GEO (government contract) Detention Facility.
In discernment with the sponsoring groups there was a strong sense of call and support for Fernando and Rebeca to return if possible for a longer and more intentional assignment with MSMC. Funding commitments have come from Casa de Paz, Beloved Community and from “The World is my Community Fund”. A support committee is in the process of helping obtain three-year religious workers visas with the guidance of Delo Blough an immigration attorney from Virginia and Linda Shelly of Mennonite Mission Network.
Near the end of Fernando and Rebeca’s visit, Rebeca needed an emergency appendectomy. She received excellent care and is now in good health. Fortunately, they were covered by a catastrophic insurance policy but we were left with a $5,000 deductible and some additional expenses. An October fund-raiser raised almost $2,600 and congregations have been responding to an invitation by Everence to donate from their unused sharing funds which Everence is able to match dollar for dollar. A number of churches have responded and we are closing in on the goal. If more funding comes in than is needed for medical expenses, it will be added to “The World is My Community Fund”.
Currently Fernando and Rebeca are on assignment with Mennonite Mission Network in Chile where they are using sharing their organizational skills with the Chilean Mennonite Churches. Our hope is for their return to Denver in the spring to begin a multi-year ministry with the three sponsoring groups. We are excited about the gifts Fernando and Rebeca bring as we work (as a conference) to become a multi-cultural witness—especially in a national climate that is increasingly anti-immigrant and racist.
Thanks to all who have given time and resources. If you want to contribute directly to the project you can send your contribution to Mountain States Mennonite Conference, 430 W. 9th Avenue, Denver, CO 80204. Note “The World is My Community Fund”.
There will be many more opportunities to get involved. Stay tuned!