immigrants

Have You Ever Met a Dreamer?

by Jarrett Meek, Pastor/Executive Director, Founder

Mission Adelante takes seriously the biblical mandate to speak on behalf of vulnerable people who don't have a voice.  In our case, some of those voiceless people are our neighbors and friends.  In these strange times, when a lot is being said about immigrants and refugees, we, as a ministry and community, have embraced all the more our slogan, "loving people from all places."  From undocumented immigrants, who form a large part of the very fabric of our neighborhood, to legal permanent residents and citizens who are hoping to be reunited with aging parents through a family reunification visa, to refugees who are displaced, without a country to call home, many members of our community are directly impacted by our country's immigration laws.  At Mission Adelante, we find ourselves with beautiful opportunities to serve, share life, and share Jesus with people from all places who are often looked upon as outsiders by the world around them.  As we live out our mission to make disciples, we find special significance in the disciple-making ministry of Jesus that emphasized serving the vulnerable and marginalized as a hallmark of those who would be His followers.

Open your mouths for the mute; for all those who are destitute.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.  Proverbs 31:8-9

We know that many of our partners and friends look to Mission Adelante for information and leadership in issues related to immigrants and refugees.  This, for us, is a solemn responsibility that we don't take lightly.  We are standing in a unique place, at the nexus of current issues that have deep biblical, social, and political significance.  By following the Lord we follow, by living where we live, by serving whom we serve, and loving whom we love, we have become part of a "new we" that includes people from different countries, backgrounds, races, and cultures.  As a part of this new we, we look with special interest at the question, "who is my neighbor?".  In light of our unique context, we marvel at the parable of the Good Samaritan, which demonstrated that an outsider, a foreigner, a person of a different race or religion, might just be the neighbor God calls us to love.  You, as a friend of Mission Adelante, are also part of this "new we", and we are honored to be part of this journey together.

Maybe you are aware of the ongoing push for legislation to provide a permanent solution for "Dreamers", young immigrants who have grown up in the U.S. without proper immigration documents.  There are new developments nearly every week on this front, and we continue to pray for a compassionate solution for these young friends and neighbors.  The video at the top of this post will give you a glimpse into some of the realities facing the Dreamers. Recently, World Relief led the way in drafting a letter to Congress and to President Trump in support of the Dreamers and other vulnerable groups.  This letter was published in the Washington Post on February 7th, along with the signatures of 100 prominent Evangelical leaders, including Beth Moore, Bill and Lynne Hybels, Ann Voskamp, and Max Lucado.  Thousands of other Evangelical leaders and organizations, including Mission Adelante, signed on to the online version of the letter, which called on Congress and President Trump to give consideration to four groups of vulnerable people including, Dreamers, Refugees, Persecuted Christians, and Families awaiting reunification.  I encourage you to read the letter here.

If you are interested in staying up-to-date with good information and thoughtful, Christian responses to issues related to immigrants and refugees, two of our trusted sources are World Relief and The Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), led by Dr. Russell Moore.  Recently, Mission Adelante's board adopted the ERLC's Evangelical Leader Statement on Dreamers as our own position.  If you are so inclined, we invite you to join with us and others across the country to pray for Dreamers, specifically on Monday, March 5th over the lunch hour.  World Relief has put together a prayer guide for Dreamers that many will be using on this day.  Thank you for walking with us and standing with our beloved community through all the challenges we face together.

dreamers_ap_photo-alex_brandon.jpg

Invest in Immigrant Leaders Making Disciples!

We are praying the Lord would provide $60,000 this year-end to support our "Community Leaders".  www.missionadelante.org/give

We are praying the Lord would provide $60,000 this year-end to support our "Community Leaders". www.missionadelante.org/give

by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

When we set out to start Mission Adelante, I didn't fully appreciate the potential for immigrants and refugees to play a critical role in transforming a community and a ministry.  Now, I'm continually amazed and inspired to by leaders from all places and the impact they are having in our neighborhood.  From entrepreneurs to ministry leaders, our community is full of courageous people who are cutting new pathways through the thick brush of cultural and language barriers to realize their dreams and be a part of transforming individual lives and the entire community.

Yanelis López, Gissell Vázquez, and Laxmi Gurung are three of these leaders.  As new arrivals to the U.S. each of them has had to overcome challenges and forge a trail through what sometimes seems like an overgrown jungle.  Their perseverance, faith, and vision inspire me and all those who are close to them.  Mission Adelante is blessed to have them as part of our staff!

As we approach the end of 2017, I'm looking back at the impact our immigrant staff members have made over the last year and anticipating what the Lord will do through them in 2018.  Laxmi, as an apprentice, is learning ministry with us and has launched our new Refugee Kids Club, which is already including kids from Nepal, Burma, and Latin America.  Gissell has integrated worship into nearly every corner of Mission Adelante, from our staff meetings to our Kids ministry and beyond.  She has transformed our Latino worship team and is preparing a new program called Adelante Arts Community that will develop and disciple young through music and the arts.  And Yanelis has made tremendous contributions on the senior leadership level, walking our team through transitions, creating healthy dynamics on our staff ministry team, and accepting an increasing level of leadership responsibility in our organization.  The impact of these leaders is only just beginning as they continue to adjust to life in the U.S.  As people, they are cherished, and as leaders they have the ability to take our ministry to new places.

This year-end, we are praying the Lord would provide $60,000 to help support the 2018 salary and benefits of Yanelis, Laxmi, and Gissell, through what we call our Community Leader Fund.  As you pray about your own giving this year-end, I invite you to consider making a special contribution to our Community Leader Fund.  If you already give monthly, maybe the Lord will lead you to make an additional year-end gift.  If you give annually or occasionally, we encourage you to jump in again with us.  Or maybe your are looking for new ways to make an impact with your resources.  Investing in Yanelis, Laxmi and Gissell is at the heart of our mission as they are all involved on the front lines of disciple-making with people from all places.  I have every confidence that supporting their work through Mission Adelante will produce Kingdom fruit in ways that will glorify Jesus! 

Giving online is easy at www.missionadelante.org/give.

You can give online at: www.missionadelante.org/give

Leaders from All Places on the Playing Field

Staff and interns from "all places" getting on the ministry playing field in KCK. 

Staff and interns from "all places" getting on the ministry playing field in KCK. 

by Jarrett Meek, Pastor/Founder/Executive Director

In the midst of life and the ups and downs of ministry, the Lord is quietly carrying Mission Adelante through important milestones.  For some years now we have been focused on mobilizing volunteers and raising up leaders from within the immigrant and refugee community in KCK. In 2011 we began measuring the number of ongoing immigrant volunteers that were serving in ongoing, defined roles in our ministry.  At that point the number represented about 14% of all of our volunteers, a modest, but decent start for a ministry that had initially emphasized recruiting volunteers from suburban churches.  Slowly, each trimester we've made progress.  In 2013 we shifted the focus of our summer internship to equipping youth from our community.  We experimented with different leadership team models that were meant to provide a place at the table for people from other places.  And, with two steps forward and one step back, we began to see fruit.  

Mobilizing "community leaders" for the mission field in our own backyard is not just a strategy, but it is value that comes close to the heart of our mission.  We are convinced that to truly live out our mission in this community, we must do it together!  Not as "us" serving "them", but as a new "we".  Every day I see evidence that we still lack a lot in this regard, but I also see that the Lord is moving us forward.  While we still have a long way to go, this summer trimester marks the first time that more than 25% of our 130 ongoing volunteers are immigrants or refugees.  And, if patterns remain consistent, we might expect to make another significant jump in September.

There is another important and related transition taking place at Mission Adelante;  half of our staff Leadership Team are from other countries, and, during the summer, with our summer interns included, almost half of our staff (46%) are first or second generation immigrants.  These statistics may not break any records for urban ministries, but they represent significant fruit from our efforts at becoming "a multicultural community of disciples making disciples where immigrants and others are thriving and using our gifts together to impact our neighborhood and world for the glory of Jesus Christ. "

Important Dates:

  • Mission Adelante will be on break next week, July 4th - 7th.  There will not be any programs that week so that our staff and volunteers can enjoy the holiday with their family and friends.
  • Observation Nights are coming soon!  If you have ever wondered what goes on during a night of programming at Mission Adelante you can join us on Tuesday July 11th & 18th from 6:30 - 8:30 to observe our Refugee Ministry or on Thursday July 13th & 20th from 6:30 - 8:30 to our observe our Latino Ministry.  We are located at 22 S 18th St. Kansas City, Kansas 66102. Visit our website at: www.missionadelante.org/serve/

New Refugee Ministry Pilots at Mission Adelante

Our new English Club for people from all places launched on May 30!

Our new English Club for people from all places launched on May 30!

by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

The end of one season often signals the beginning of another.  As Mission Adelante celebrated the winding down of seven beautiful years of ministry specifically with the Bhutanese, new doors were beginning to open for a broader ministry with refugees from all places in our neighborhood.  A meeting with Catholic Charities underlined the ongoing need for complementary refugee services that go beyond the initial three-month resettlement window.  Relationships with key people from several refugee communities including Bhutanese, Chin, Karen, Karenni, Iraqi, and Syrian, confirmed once again the deep desire our new neighbors have for friendship and their need for assistance with practical matters related to integrating in their new context.  An ESL class that we taught for adults, in partnership with refugee and immigrant students at Schlagle High School, highlighted the potential and passion that exists in youth from all places.  In so many ways it seems the Lord is leading us to press into our role and identity as a ministry with immigrants and refugees from ALL PLACES!

This summer we will be pressing further into our purpose to "love people from all places" by experimenting with two new initiatives that are open to all refugees and immigrants; an English Club for adults and a Refugee Kids Club.  These two initiatives launched on Tuesday night with several exciting highlights!

Our English Club Pilot, led by Lena Chan, is an informal, activity-based ESL program.  Participants practice their English and build friendships as they enjoy cooking, playing games, talking about health-related issues, and address practical issues that may arise in their everyday lives.  It is a combination of fun, relationships, and English-learning in a social environment, rather than an academic one.  Our initial group of 15 English Club students came from countries including Thailand, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

English Club participants practice English as they enjoy a game of Jenga.

English Club participants practice English as they enjoy a game of Jenga.

Our Refugee Kids Club Pilot is led by Laxmi Gurung, a refugee from Nepal and Mission Adelante's newest Staff Apprentice.  It is so beautiful to see the fruit of many years of different people investing in Laxmi's life being reproduced now in her own desire to invest in the lives of others.  In fact, the volunteer team Laxmi leads includes four other youth from Nepal who once participated in our Bhutanese Kids Club, among others. It is a truly multicultural team in which the fruits of long-term disciple-making are being harvested in the multiplication of leaders who are now sharing Christ with others.  

Laxmi Gurung with her amazing team of volunteers for Refugee Kids Club

Laxmi Gurung with her amazing team of volunteers for Refugee Kids Club

It is an exciting new season at Mission Adelante with exciting challenges and big opportunities!  Please pray with us as we take these next steps in exploring ministry with refugees from all places in our neighborhood!

Lamenting and Hoping With People from All Places

Members of Mission Adelante attended the CCDA conference in Los Angeles, CA.

Members of Mission Adelante attended the CCDA conference in Los Angeles, CA.

by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

Never have I been more passionate about my calling to serve, share life and share Jesus with people from other places than I am today.   Walking with vulnerable people as they navigate the challenges of living in a new country, helping outsiders become insiders, sharing and living the Gospel of Christ, sowing truth about who we all are as image-bearers of our Creator God and brothers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; these are things that matter deeply to me.  At the intersection of the Greatest Commandments and the Great Commission is a beautiful and special calling to love immigrants and refugees and help outsiders become Kingdom insiders.

"Oh God be not far from me, make haste to help me!"  Psalm 71:12

After a presidential campaign that produced a barrage of harsh language about immigrants and refugees, which was then affirmed by voters, we at Mission Adelante hurt with our friends from other places, because we know how all of this has affected them already.  We pray and hope with many of you that demeaning and severe words won't become harsh policies, but we also understand and want others to grasp the depth of impact the words themselves have had on people who already feel like outsiders.  The heart of these matters doesn't have to do with a political party, who won or lost an election, or a political ideology.  Friends, supporters, staff, and community members of Mission Adelante have a diversity views on all of these things, and Mission Adelante takes no position on political parties or candidates.  But what we all share is deep respect for the dignity of each person created in God's image, the value of families and work, the Biblical principle of showing mercy to vulnerable people, a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a love for people from all places, and the sorrow of seeing our neighbors hurting.  Friends, our community is hurting.  Will you lament with us?

"For you Oh Lord are my hope, my trust, oh Lord, from my youth." Psalm 71:5

Our hope is in Jesus and Jesus alone.  He is our Lord.  He is King now and forever!  This truth is the sweetest and most beautiful hope there is.  When we lament with our brothers and sisters, we do not do so as those without hope, for He is our refuge and our strength.  And yet we lament.  When we look apprehensively at the future, we may dread the impact that harsh policies may have on our lives or the lives of those we love.  And yet we hope.  We hope, because, though He told us to expect trials of many kinds, He also told us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness (James 1:3).  We hope because we know that not even death could hold our Lord, and the resurrection broke forth from the crucifixion!  Our community is hoping in Jesus.  Will you hope with us?

"But I will hope continually, and I will praise you yet more and more." Psalm 71:14

As the Mission Adelante community walks into this new and uncertain season, we invite you into it with us, to love our neighbor, to show hospitality to people from all places, to pray, to serve and to share life.  And most of all, to share Jesus!  Will you love people from all places with us?

Yurielvys Alonso Shares His Story

Yuri sharing his testimony before being baptized this summer.

Yuri sharing his testimony before being baptized this summer.

A Letter from Yurielvys Alonso (translated from Spanish)

I’m excited to introduce myself and share with you a little bit of my story and the opportunity God has placed before me to learn more about Him and be equipped for ministry through an apprenticeship at Mission Adelante.   I am a young Cuban, who like every other immigrant, came to this country seeking opportunities and better economic possibilities.  My wife, Natalhy, and I left our families, our friends, and our neighbors and we miss our customs and culture very much.  

When we arrived in Kansas City we had many challenges, including the cold weather, the different cultural traditions, and the English language.  By God’s grace, my wife reconnected with a friend from Cuba who told us about Mission Adelante's English classes, and we decided to attend.  It’s incredible how God has a plan for our lives!  We went looking for English, but we found something much bigger!  We found the greatest thing; The King of Kings!  

In my home country I had not had the privilege of knowing Jesus personally, and as I reflect back on God’s plan, it is incredible to see how He brought us to this city, how He used our Cuban friend to take us to church, and how He touched our hearts.  I have come to know Jesus the redeemer, the savior, and the teacher, and He has taught me how to enjoy each step I take with His presence in my life. Mission Adelante has offered me the opportunity to grow spiritually to the point that I have felt a strong desire to become a pastor and share with everyone the work of God in my life.  As I write to you, I am preparing to begin a three-year apprenticeship that will equip me with tools to grow more in my relationship with Christ and to take the Gospel to everyone.  I am excited to begin in January.  

The apprenticeship at Mission Adelante is a training program that includes academic study, individual mentoring, practical ministry experience, and a place on the Mission Adelante staff.  I will receive a full-time salary and benefits as a part of the program so that I can dedicate my full attention to my ministry training and responsibilities.  Thank you for your friendship and for allowing me to share my story with you.

Sincerely,

Yurielvys Alonso

If you would like to support Mission Adelante's Community Leader Fund, please visit missionadelante.org/give and choose the "Community Leader Fund" option.