Written by Yanelis Lopez, Latino Ministry Director
The desire to live a life of making disciples is something that God put in my heart several years ago. It was a lifestyle change that I made, and the more that I study the life of Christ, the more honored I feel that He wants to use us in this way. When I lived in Cuba there were many others who had the same desire to impact our community in a different way. We talked and shared with each other what we were experiencing as we became involved with sharing life and sharing Jesus with others. After engaging with people in our community who didn’t know Christ and in building sincere and significant relationships with them, we decided to host a retreat for them. We perceived that all they needed was to be more exposed to God’s word, and to have community with other believers.
As I became more involved with people who didn’t know Jesus, I could see that the harvest was really plentiful outside the four walls of the church. So, we took on the work of preparing our first retreat for people who weren’t Christ followers. Twenty young, non-believers participated and some of them knew nothing at all about Jesus; they only came because they knew us. But there was one small catch; we didn’t have the resources for this retreat, and we wanted some help with the teaching from someone outside of our own church. This is how we met Jarrett Meek, the Director of Mission Adelante. A Cuban friend, who we had in common, lived in Kansas City and invited him to go to Cuba to participate in the retreat. We spent three, powerful days; sharing life together, getting to know Christ deeper, having fun, and working hard. But the most impressive thing about those few days was that all of the young people who attended the retreat received Christ as their Savior. This retreat started a fire in my heart that is still burning today. The harvest is plentiful, the people are ready; we need only to seek them, to serve them, and open our mouths and let the Gospel be known. From that point on there was no stopping us. Six of the leaders who were with us on the retreat came together to work alongside the church to develop a disciple-making movement. It was that point in our history that our partnership with Mission Adelante began. Jarrett offered to support us so that we could continue to move forward, we then realized that we had everything we needed to begin.
I have to confess that the offer of partnership with Jarrett and Mission Adelante made me nervous at first. Not all of my experiences with foreigners, especially missionaries, had been positive. At times I felt that these kinds of relationships ended up creating financial dependency in which one side was in control and the other side had to do everything possible to make sure things looked good and the benefactor was satisfied. The most beautiful thing about our relationship with Mission Adelante is the genuine interdependency that has developed through the years. This was true when I was living in Cuba, and it is still true now that I’m here in the U.S. God had done a miraculous thing, bringing together two very different groups that could encourage and support one another in a way where each side learned and supported each other. At times it has not been easy; but here we are nearly seven years later, telling stories of healthy and deep relationships between different cultures which are ongoing and continue to grow stronger. Working now as the Director of Latino Ministries at Mission Adelante, I can see that this kind of interdependence requires awareness and intentionality, and that it is very easy to lose the proper perspective. When we come together and decide to walk in the same direction, we become stronger and more able to achieve great things for the Lord.
- Are you looking for a practical way to help refugees and immigrants? Consider purchasing from Mission Adelante's Top Ten list on Amazon. Mission Adelante serves a large number of men, women and children each week and is in need of various items. A link to the wish list can be found on Mission Adelante's website under Give Stuff.
- Adelante Thrift is in need of High Impact Volunteers. If you are interested in serving at Adelante Thrift in an on-going basis, please visit our website at www.adelantethrift.com/volunteer
- Have you ever wondered what goes on during a night of programs at Mission Adelante? Join us March 2nd & 9th, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm at our Latino ministry ESL & Kid’s programs. 22 S 18th St. Kansas City, Kansas 66102