Armando Ortegon is our first Amigos Center Chaplain. Since the retirement of Rev. Lomba last March, we no longer have a full-time pastor in Immokalee. Our Immokalee staff felt the need to create the position of volunteer chaplain to help fill that void. The Chaplain is responsible for providing spiritual services to the clients of Immokalee Amigos Center. The chaplain connects the spiritual services of our Immokalee Lutheran Church with the social services of Amigos Center by actively engaging and listening to the patrons of Amigos Center in a Christ like manner. The Chaplain offers both group and individual prayer to our clients, staff and volunteers. Born in Colombia, Armando has no problem communicating with the many Hispanics who come into our center. Armando is in charge of our Marriage Enrichment ministry in Bonita Springs and is one of Pastor Selle’s advanced theology students. In the near future we expect to also have a Haitian Chaplain serving along side of Armando. This will be a important since about a third of our clients are Haitian.
Andre Mezilus, our Mission Developer for Haitians in Immokalee, received his vicarage assignment from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on July 20, 2011. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, issued Andre his vicarage assignment during a special service at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus located on the seminary campus. Four other Ethic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) students received their divine calls during the same service. Andre has successfully completed 11 of the 16 EIIT courses required to graduate. Upon graduation, Andre will receive his Theological Diploma from Concordia Seminary, thus making him eligible for a divine call into the ministry of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Recently retired LCMS pastor Steve Hess began serving as Andre’s mentor during this past summer semester.
As part of our Amigos en Cristo pastoral staff, Andre is a key person in our vision to establish three Haitian Lutheran Churches in Southwest Florida by the year 2013. We envision these churches to be in Immokalee, Naples and Fort Myers. Also key to our vision is our second Haitian worker, Saint Luc Charelus. Saint Luc begins his theological studies with the Ethic Immigrant Institute of Theology on August 30, 2011. His mentor will be Rev. Richard Browning, Hope Lutheran Church, Bonita Springs, FL. A grant from the Zimmer Family Foundation of Sarasota, FL is underwriting a portion of the theological studies of Andre and Saint Luc.
Thirty children participated in the first day of our week long Immokalee Vacation Bible School. Under the direction of Grace Lutheran Church of Naples, Director of Christian Education, Kami Jo, and her group of volunteers, the children enjoyed play time outdoors, Bible Stories about Moses, crafts, songs and snacks. According to Pastor Selle, this VBS helps us proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in a relevant and understandable way to the Hispanic and Haitian children who live in Immokalee. We are very thankful for Kami Jo and the people of Grace Lutheran for sharing their time and talent with us. Our ministry is largely volunteer driven and we count heavily on the dedication and service of people like Kami Jo to complete our mission.
Father’s Day was made special for the men of our church with just a little extra effort. Our Immokalee Hispanic mission hosted an after Sunday Service gathering with food, laughter, our Seeds of Hope video and some vision casting by Pastor Selle. Our Bonita Springs Hispanic congregation gathered after church service for a all-time favorite ice cream social.
This morning we had thirteen students here in Immokalee to learn English. Nine of them were learning to write and speak out loud while three of them were on the computer. It was AWESOME!
In Bonita Springs, we renewed our outreach efforts at our Kingston Amigos Center. Every Wednesday at 6:00 pm volunteers from our Hispanic church and others gather with residents of Kingston Acres trailer park in Bonita Springs. In order to share the love of Christ we gather for youth activities and prayer with parents. We are looking for people who can help us, especially if you can lead music or help small children with Bible based crafts. Call Pastor Selle (239) 281-1664 if you would like more information.
On May 21, family and friends gathered to celebrate the graduation from our Leadership Development 2011 course. The course was sponsored by Amigos Center. This is a step forward for many of these women as they look forward to filling leadership roles in Immokalee schools, community agencies and churches. Pastor Selle is forming an Advisory Board for our Immokalee Hispanic Church with some of these leaders. This course was designed and led by Amigos Center staff person Marcela Rice along with the help of 12 other individuals from the Immokalee community who help lead the various topics covered by the course.
We are proud to announce that the Zimmer Family Foundation accepted our grant request for $15,000 to help with Theological training for Haitian leaders. This funds from this grant will be used to train Haitians through the Concordia Seminary EIIT (Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology) program to provide gospel outreach to the Haitian population in Immokolee & the surrounding areas.
Pictured here is Vicar Andre Mezilus and Saint Luc Charlelus, two of our Haitian leaders currently in the EIIT program.