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
By God’s grace, and a lot of hard work we have expanded the scope of our immigration services to include undocumented victims of domestic violence while continuing to provide the family-based and country specific immigration services that Amigos Center is accustomed to offer. To that end we have hired a third immigration specialist, Marie Josee Maurice, to work out of our Bonita Springs office and we have renovated our center to include additional office space.
With the help of our partners from the United of Lee County, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the Bridge Fund of Bonita Springs and Estero, we have launched a cooperative arrangement with the Abuse Counseling and Treatment Shelter of Fort Myers to help provide U-visas to eligible victims of domestic violence. The U visa applies to immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who are the victims of certain serious crimes and who have cooperated with authorities in the prosecution of the perpetrator. An immigrant granted a U Visa will subsequently be given legal status to reside and work in the United States.
According to founder and CEO of Amigos Center, Pastor Bob Selle; “The love of Jesus Christ compels us to extend a helping hand to the most vulnerable. Our service to the immigrant community is a tangible expression of God’s love and concern for people of all nations. It is an expression of what we believe and the one in whom we have believed.”
To learn more about our immigration services, visit our website: www.amigoscenter.org, or better yet, come to our open house on Thursday, December 11, at 11:00 am at 25999 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135, on the campus of Hope Lutheran Church.
Thursday, December 11 11:00 am 25999 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135
We are blessed to have received Isabella Restrepo as a member of the Kingdom of God through the waters of Baptism on Sunday, July 20 at Amigos en Cristo ministry at Hope Lutheran Church, Bonita Springs, FL. Pray for this young soul as she begins her lifelong journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Andrew Vazquez of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Miami participated as our invited preacher.
Amigos en Cristo is the “Mission of the Month” at Faith Lutheran Church, Naples. Amigos representative, Eileen Ortegon, visited Faith Lutheran on July 6 to say thank you to all of our supporters. Pastor Selle is the guest preacher for the last Sunday of July. Come and meet him.
By Pastor Bob Selle
Our Hispanic ministry at Hope Lutheran Church, Bonita Springs has begun a music ministry designed to enhance the worship experience during our Sunday afternoon worship service. Church member and lead guitarist Reynaldo Bernal directs Roberto Velazquez (key board), Carlos Garciá (Drummer), Cesar García (Base guitar), Ebert Enriquez (Percussionist), and Orleisy Lima (lead singer). Orleisy and Ebert played professionally in Cuba before immigrating to the United States. In order to share the blessing, Orleisy will sing at Faith Lutheran Church on July 27. Everyone is welcome to participate in our 1:00 PM Spanish language each Sunday at Hope Lutheran, Bonita Springs.
By Karl Glander (Vicar)
Our volunteer staff continues to amaze as they take on more responsibility so I can continue my studies with the SMP (Specific Ministry Program). The program is very challenging but the rewards are priceless as it is for the service to our Lord for the expansion of his Kingdom. This is a four-year distance education program of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO that prepares for ordination as a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. As Paul prays for the Philippians I ask yours also.
Philippians 1:6 “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”
English Language Ministry in Immokalee
By Pastor Bob Selle
Second generation immigrants live within two cultures, that of their parents and that of the country they call home. They are the “Hypheners”: Mexican-Americans, Haitian-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans, etc.
While many adults in Immokalee immigrated to the United States from Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti, there are also many who either came as very young children or were born here in the United States to their immigrant parents. Of the 53,000,000 Hispanics in the United States almost 65% were born and raised here in the United States (“A Future for the Latino Church” by Daniel Rodriguez). They often do not feel comfortable in the Spanish/Haitian language church of their parents. They are too “Americanized,” too “adapted” to the American culture. Their cognitive language is English, not the language with which their parents grew up.
At the same time they often do not feel welcome in the existing American churches where they are seen as foreigners. They don’t feel they belong. They may have experienced discrimination (or they feel that they have experienced discrimination).
There is a danger of the Christian church losing this generation when they become old enough to leave home. People don’t want to go to a church where they will be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable or that will make them embarrassed.
While continuing our outreach to first generation Hispanics and Haitians, we are now expanding our ministry to establish a multi-cultural, multi-racial English-dominant Lutheran church focused on the 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants in Immokalee. Our church will promote a global, multicultural vision where our identity is first and foremost as members of the Kingdom of God.
Vicar Karl Glander has already started a Wednesday evening group that meets for Bible study, prayer, worship, food and fellowship in English at our Immokalee Amigos Center. We expect to start an English language Sunday worship service later this summer.
An innovative intergenerational approach to Family ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Myers produced among other mission projects, enough food to serve 80 families in Immokalee. This intergenerational approach provides opportunity for families to come together for worship, fellowship and mission service. During a recent weekend event entire families gathered and assembled food bags for Amigos en Cristo, flood buckets and also sorted nails for Habitat for Humanity. Family Life Ministry DCE Rebecca Duport innovated the concept and organized the weekend event to replace the traditional children’s Vacation Bible School model. According to Zion’s Pastor Peter Weeks, “This intergenerational approach is a unique tool that embodies the partnership between the church and the home to reach out to the community.” Thrivent Financial for Lutherans partnered with Zion Lutheran to match funds through their “Care Abounds in Communities” matching grant program.