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 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.
On Saturday, October 10 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm we plan to distribute a new pair of sneakers to every child who comes to our Immokalee Amigos Center. In partnership with Samaritan’s Feet and with Hope Lutheran Church, Bonita Springs we will once again set up the big tent in our parking lot to share not only a pair of shoes, but also the Gospel hope we have in Jesus.
The free shoe event will also feature a special prayer ministry, food, fun activities for kids and for the weary backs of this farmworker community, free chiropractic services courtesy of Restore Chiropractic of Bonita Springs. Come on out and help. Call Karl for more information (239) 293-1489. Volunteers should arrive at 8:00 am.
On July 31 we celebrated our first Mariachi Evangelism Campaign with over 200 people from all over Southwest Florida in attendance. Thanks to our partnership with Zion Lutheran Church we were able to bring the Mariachi San Pablo music group from the Ysleta Lutheran Mission in El Paso, Texas all the way to Immokalee, Florida. Mariachi, you got to love it! Check out the video link www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RFfWSnWU_I
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 Rev. Robert Selle
Amigos en Cristo together with Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Myers, is organizing a unique evangelism event at the Immokalee Amigos Center for Friday, July 31 at 5:00 PM. Our intent is to share the love and hope of Jesus with the people of Immokalee through the music of “Mariachi San Pablo”.
Since 70% of Immokalee residents speak Spanish at home, it makes sense to present the Gospel through music that speaks to the soul. In addition to the music, the event will offer tamales and cheese nachos, play activities for the children, prayer booth, conversations with our Amigos Center immigration staff, tours of our ministry center and much more.
Mariachi San Pablo is an intergenerational music ministry of Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care in El Paso, Texas, one of the poorest communities along the border with Mexico. The group has traveled to 17 different U.S. states as well as into northern Mexico (103 cities in all). While at home on the US/Mexico border, Mariachi San Pablo works to reach their community through music that both inspires and touches the lives of those who hear it.
Mariachi San Pablo comes to the Amigos Center in Immokalee on Friday, July 31, 2015, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, 106 South 2nd Street, Immokalee, FL 34142. Everyone is invited, no matter your language or country of origin. For more information call Pastor Selle (239) 281-1664.
Thank you to all 182 participants who came to our Children of Amigos fundraising luncheon. Donations are still arriving, but so far we have raised $73, 490. That is an amazing amount, however it falls short of last year’s fundraising result by $5,000. It’s not too late to make your contribution. While we are still receiving pledges from those who were unable to attend our luncheon, we look forward to gathering another $20,000 to meet our budgeted needs. Just click the red “DONATE NOW” button and you are on your way to helping us set a new fundraising record!
Our theme this year, “Children of Amigos” focused attention on the blessings the children of our adult clients and church members have received through the years. We prepared a short video Children of Amigos that tell their stories.
We were honored with the presence of Dr. Daniel Dosoretz, CEO and Co-founder of 21st Century Oncology. Because of his support of Amigos Center, his support of other humanitarian efforts in Southwest Florida and his own outstanding personal story as a successful immigrant, we were pleased to present Dr. Dosoretz with our 2015 Humanitarian Award.
Our Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Mary Manz Simon, flew in from Pasadena, Maryland to spend the day with us. Dr. Mary is an award winning author with more than three million books sold in English and titles available in ten languages. Publishers include Random House, Scholastic, and Concordia Publishing House, which released Little Visits with Jesus and Hear Me Read Bible. Two titles from Ideals/Guideposts are scheduled for release in 2015.
Our luncheon gave us an opportunity to recognize and thank our staff of two full-time and 11 part-time workers. Amigos has four staff members who have worked for us for more than ten years. Our newest staff member is immigration Attorney Lindsay Ray who began work with us in February 2015. Lindsay has always wanted to work as an immigration attorney. For that reason she moved to Florida from California to study law at Ave Maria School of Law.
Immokalee English Church
Under the leadership of Vicar Karl Glander our English language ministry in Immokalee continues to develop. Every Wednesday night Vicar Karl meets with a growing group of young people for food, Bible study and friendship. While these young adults are fluent in the native language of their parents, they feel more at ease speaking in English. This has created a wonderful niche for discipleship.
Immokalee Hispanic Church
Our Hispanic ministry in Immokalee was greatly enriched by receiving Danuel Morford into membership through affirmation of faith. Before moving to Immokalee, Dan spent many years working as an accountant as a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America. He now volunteers to tutor our Amigos Center English language students.
Immokalee Haitian Church
Bethlehem Haitian Church – LCMS plans to extend a divine call to Vicar Saint Luc Charelus to serve on their pastoral staff together with Rev. Andre Mezilus. Saint Luc is a student with the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary. God willing, he will finish his theological studies by the summer of 2015.
Bonita Springs Hispanic Church
During 2014 we baptized two children and one adult and received two adults into membership. The expansion of our music ministry has been a highlight. Visit our website to hear a sample. We hope to prepare a gift CD of their music during 2015.
The Cost of Thanksgiving
By Rev. Robert Selle
Here is what it costs to serve over 200 Immokalee farmworkers a hot turkey meal with trimmings during Thanksgiving week:
- 20 turkeys = $310;
- 24 big hearted volunteers: priceless.
- Buddy Taylor and his staff at Gator Hammock Catering slow cooked 20 turkeys over charcoal for 7 hours;
- Eleven volunteers from Immokalee;
- Fourteen volunteers from Lutheran Churches in Weston, Naples, and Fort Myers, FL
Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or another other day of the year, Amigos Center welcomes the foreigner and stranger among us with the love of God in Christ Jesus. It is the people who volunteer their time and talent that make it possible for us to carry out our mission of love by providing food, clothing, English classes, special outreach events, etc.
It is not always easy or cheap to serve others, but it is the price of Thanksgiving to God.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with us,
- visit our website: http://amigoscenter.org/get-involved/volunteer-to-be-a-friend/:
- Call Karl Glander to set up a tour of our Immokalee Amigos Center: (239) 293-1489;
- Visit us from Monday to Thursday, between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, 106 South 2nd Street, Immokalee, FL