Posts Categorised: Index
By Rev. Robert Selle
Immokalee, FL – On December 6, 2015 over a hundred people gathered at the Immokalee Amigos Center to participate in the ordination and installation of Saint Luc Charelus.
Accompanied by his wife, Masinam, his mother, his brother, one of his seven children, members of Bethlehem Haitian Church – LCMS and local clergy, Rev. Charelus made his solemn vow that with the help of God he will perform the duties of the pastoral office in conformity with Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Rev. Jon Zehnder, Second Vice-President of the LCMS Florida-Georgia District, vested Saint Luc with a red stole, symbol of the pastoral office. Rev. Richard Browning, Circuit Visitor and Saint Luc’s mentor for the past 5 years performed the rite of installation. Rev. Charelus now joins Pastor Andre Mezilus as part of the pastoral team of Bethlehem Haitian Church.
Both pastors are bi-vocational, working in a secular job to support their families while still serving as pastor. Both Rev. Charelus and Rev. Mezilus are graduates of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, MO. The model of bi-vocational pastors is a viable model for our ethnic ministries, especially because of the economically depressed population that our ethnic ministries often serve.
By Rev. Robert Selle, CEO
An anonymous donor laid down the challenge and you responded. In October, one of our wonderful volunteers made a pledge to match dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000. All donations to Amigos Center received by December 15, 2015 that exceeded the donor’s gift in 2014 would be matched dollar-for-dollar. The results were beyond our expectations.
We received 52 qualified gifts, including 23 first time donors, for a total of $32,390. Added to the $15,000 challenge grant we received a total of $47,390.
Thank you for your trust and support. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Because of your financial support during the next 12 months we intend to:
- Ordain and install two of our vicars into the pastoral ministry;
- Begin a new Hispanic ministry in Lehigh Acres in partnership with one of our supporting LCMS congregations;
- Reorganize our food distribution system to include a “Select Market” model where pre-screened families will be able to choose the food that they take home;
- Improve our English Language program by adding a Director of Language Services;
- Continue providing affordable legal immigration help for families and for victims of domestic violence.
You can help by making a special gift:
- Send a check made payable to AMIGOS CENTER and mail it to:
25999 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135; or
- Click the DONATE NOW button on our website amigoscenter.org and make your contribution by credit card or by Pay Pal.
We are truly blessed by your trust and partnership. By God’s grace we will continue to have an impact on the future of the many families who continue to immigrate to our community from all over the world. Thank you for making it possible.
Our Lord Jesus knows no bounds. Our faith in Him emboldens us to imagine the unimaginable. Our theme for the 2016 fundraiser event is “What If”. Christian Author, public speaker and eternal optimist Dr. Rich Bimler will serve as our Master of Ceremonies. Save the date: March 16, 2016 at noon, Spanish Wells Country Club, Bonita Springs.
By Americo Eiben (Immigrant from Argentina)
In Argentina from a young age I believed in Christ. I participated regularly in a Hungarian Catholic community guided by father Domoncos. In 1986 I moved to the USA and did not return to the church until 2006 when I visited Amigos Center for an immigration consultation. Since then I have participated with the Amigos en Cristo Church and have once again returned to the path of God.
En Argentina desde joven creía en Cristo, frecuentaba una comunidad católica húngara guiada por el padre Domoncos. En 1986 me mudé a USA y no volví a frecuentar la iglesia, hasta que en el 2006 me acerqué a Amigos Center por preguntas de inmigración y desde entonces me fui integrando a la iglesia Amigos en Cristo y volví a retomar el camino a Dios.
By Eileen Ortegon (Immigrant from Colombia)
My name is Eileen Ortegon. I’m a member of Amigos en Cristo since I came here in 2012. My father in law is a Lay minister and my husband is a member of the church. I was looking for a church that I could feel good and also that I could feel the presence of God in my life, that’s why I became an active member of this church because I liked so much the services and I felt good with Pastor Selle as a guide and a person. I liked the way that he always helps the community and the families in order to help them to keep together. I felt very blessed with him as a guide in our life so I married through Amigos en Cristo, and also my two children were baptized in the church. In addition, on the past November 1 my husband and I became official members of the Amigos en Cristo church through confirmation. We are very involved with the community and we want to keep helping Amigos en Cristo grow and people like us to find the way to be close with the kingdom of God.
By Nancy Ramirez (Lifelong resident of Immokalee)
I would like to express my gratitude for all the help that Amigos Center has provided me over the years. I was first introduced to Amigos en Cristo after hurricane Wilma hit Immokalee. I volunteered to assist in caring for the children while their parents cleaned the much damaged community. I was immediately impressed by the sense of unity and the genuine will to help the community. Pastor Robert has since been there to help me and my family. Shortly after I married my husband, Pastor Robert offered us the opportunity to take part in a financial class by Dave Ramsey. I sincerely thank Pastor Robert and the Amigos Center for offering us this course, because it has definitely been a great financial tool for my marriage. The Immokalee Amigos Center informed me and my family that the Mexican Consulate was going to be at the Bonita Springs Amigos Center for one day. We were all able to get our passports and also were able to save a little on transportation to Miami thanks to the Amigos Center. When the Deferred Action plan for early childhood arrivals was approved, all of my paperwork was submitted by the Amigos Center Immigration specialists. I now have an employment authorization card and a driver’s license. I consider this a huge blessing. I am proud to also say that I am now employed as a secretary at the Immokalee Amigos Center. This is yet another blessing made possible by the Amigos Center. Since my employment began, I continue to witness the same sense of unity that caught my attention many years ago. It is also a great feeling to now be an official member of an establishment that genuinely wants to help the community. I cannot explain how great this feels. All I can say in conclusion is: Thank you Amigos Center.
We are excited that Vicar Saint Luc Charelus will receive his call documents to serve as pastor of Bethlehem Haitian Church – LCMS on Friday, October 23 at his graduation ceremony on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO. We have tentatively set the date of ordination as Sunday, December 6 at 4:00 PM in our Immokalee Amigos Center. Stand by for more details.
We would like to have all of those who love and support our ministry present for the big day. We offer a special thank you to Rev. Richard Browning at Hope Lutheran Church, Bonita Springs for having served as Mentor for Saint Luc during these past four years of seminary training. It is gratifying to see our vision of a pastoral team of bi-vocational pastors coming to fruition. The united gifts of both Pastor Andre and Pastor Saint Luc will serve as a blessing for our Lutheran Haitian church planting ministry for all of Southwest Florida. Thanks be to God! Call Pastor Selle for more information (239) 281-1664.
By Eileen Ortegon, Amigos Center Development Specialist
“I am an immigration attorney. I serve the hardest working, most gracious, and truly inspiring group of people in the world.” With these words attorney Lindsay Ray explained why she decided to study immigration law.
In 2010, during Lindsay’s first year in law school, Haitian citizens living in the U.S. became eligible to apply for immigration benefits due to their inability to return to Haiti after a massive earthquake. In an effort to help a local immigration attorney meet the high demand for immigration services by thousands of Haitian citizens in the area, Lindsay and a group of her classmates volunteered at Legal Aid Services of Collier County, filling out immigration paperwork.
After spending several weeks as a volunteer at Legal Aid Services, Lindsay became a paid intern there, working under the supervision of Attorney Sister Maureen Kelleher. Lindsay stayed on as an intern for two more years, for the duration of her time in law school. At Legal Aid, she worked exclusively in the immigration field, helping to file family petitions and working closely with victims of crime who were applying for immigration benefits. Her work at Legal Aid sparked her desire to practice law at a nonprofit agency and to serve her clients by providing the highest quality legal services for the lowest possible cost.
In 2012, after she graduated from Ave Maria School of Law, Lindsay began working at Catholic Charities. There, she was an immigration caseworker who helped her clients file family petitions and apply for naturalization. However, Lindsay never forgot the joy she felt as an intern when she was able to serve victims of crime in the field of immigration. And, although she loved her work at Catholic Charities, she wanted to continue to look for ways to help victims of crime.
Lindsay worked at Catholic Charities until 2014. In 2015, she began working at Amigos Center, a faith-based non-profit organization led by Pastor Robert Selle. Amigos Center offers family-based and country specific immigration services. Also, Amigos Center has a special program for immigrant victims of crime. Lindsay is the sole immigration practitioner in this program, and spends half of her time working exclusively with victims of crime. She meets with every client individually, and tailors a plan that meets their immigration needs and fits their lives. Each case is different, and Lindsay loves finding a solution and a path to legalization for each client.
A recent Amigos Center client asked Pastor Selle, Amigos Center CEO,
“Please say a prayer for these documents which give me hope that
I’ll finally achieve my American dream. I love this country!”
About her employer she says, “Amigos Center is different from any other law office. The whole staff shares a deep love and a great willingness to help people. This type of dedication and warmth can be felt by the clients, and is truly unique to Amigos Center.”
Amigos Center is a non-profit that provides low-cost immigration services in Southwest Florida. It gives its clients the tools necessary to be a successful and contributing members of the community and of the Kingdom of God. Amigos Center has one immigration attorney, two accredited immigration specialists and two administrative assistants on staff. For additional information about Amigos Center and immigration services, contact Pastor Robert Selle (239) 437-6727