Posts Categorised: Ministry
Friends in Christ,
We have been consumed by Covid-19 for almost 8 months. We have seen many die in our country and many lose jobs or suffer cuts in pay. We have seen unrest in our country and divisions that seem to run deep.
At the Amigos Center our lines are getting longer. While the pandemic seems to have quieted down, we have opened our clothing bank very, very slowly, with a maximum capacity of two people at a time.
We have started church services again and look forward to starting in-person Bible studies once more.It has been a long road from March. Covid-19 swept through, and at one point it was just Tulisha and I distributing food on Tuesdays. Now we are back with all the volunteers well, and none too soon as we continue serving more people.
Like you, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We don’t what will come when the workers return. But we stand firm in faith. Faith that God, Jesus Lord of all will be with us.
Romans 8:18-25: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Be patient, for we have hope in Christ. Amen
There is so much happening at Amigos en Cristo. We love sharing with you all of the blessings God has given us these past few months. We have several things for which to be thankful. This past week, Pastor Karl and his team at the Immokalee Amigos Center hosted the Summer Vacation Bible School: Splash Canyon. This past Saturday, Karl and his team also participated in a Backpack Giveaway event sponsored by Lipman Family Farms in Immokalee. For just over a month, I had the opportunity to teach 7 young people and they were able to receive First Communion last Sunday. We anticipate a confirmation class forming in the upcoming weeks as well. Also, we have a new permanent, yes permanent, location for our immigration staff to call home and we have also hired on a new staff member to assist us at this new location. Lastly, we have been in talks with Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Lehigh, Florida to help launch a new mission start. This will help me fulfill part of my call to Amigos en Cristo to start new ministries and to help Anglo churches do effective ethnic outreach.
A NOTE FROM PASTOR KARL: VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL “SPLASH CANYON”
“For three days this week, our Vacation Bible School was a time of fun and learning about our Lord and His love for His children. We learned how God is always there for us through the “wild ride of life”. We started with 17 children and over 14 support volunteers and ended with over 27 children in attendance. We started by traveling with baby Moses down the Nile River, and learned that God was there
with Moses the whole time. We learned about the Israelites entering the Promised Land, and we ended with the baptism of our LordJesus. Through all of these lessons, we explored just how big and wide the Love God has for us.
The children listened toBible stories, played games, and did crafts. They prayed together and sang songs about God’s love for us through all of our good and bad times. They also enjoyed breakfast and lunch prepare by the ladies of Amigos Center in Immokalee. A special thanks to all who made this event a success and especially thanks to God our Father who loves us so much he sent His Son to earth to save us.”
~ Blessing ~ Pastor Karl ~
For More Photos Click Here
Though I was not able to attend this years giveaway, due to a previous commitment, I received word of some great accomplishments that happened at the event last Saturday. I am so proud that we were a part of such a great event. It is a great gift being able to share and receive such great blessings while also helping out the community at large. From what I heard, the exhibitors to the volunteers to the vendors lent a hand, and they estimated helping over 2,000 people get ready to go back to school and have one last bash with their families before school begins. I feel it really was a true success in every sense of the word. I know that our staff and volunteers enjoyed themselves as they got to interact with all of the good families who made it out on Saturday. Everyone at Lipman is truly grateful for our support and participation in this event.
I hope you all can join us next year.
HOLY FIRST COMMUNION
On July 27 and 28, we had 7 First Communion candidates successfully complete their studies and self-examination in preparation to receive the Lord’s Supper on July 29th at Amigos en Cristo Church in Estero Florida. These young people went through instruction, self-examination, confession and absolution, and were publicly admitted to receive the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins. It was a great time to see the youth make public profession of their faith and the church to celebrate this joyful reception of members to the Lord’s Supper. Our confirmation class will being when school starts as well. This will allow for a continued education of these young people in the way of the Christian faith, life, and practice as they live out their calling as Christians in world.
OUR NEW LOCATION
Over the course of the year, you have heard of our recovery efforts for our immigration office due to Hurricane Irma. We moved from Hope Lutheran Church in Bonita Springs to a temporarily location at Thrive Community Church in Estero and now we are pleased to announce our new permanent, yes permanent, home at: 1560 Matthew Drive in Fort Myers. We are in the process of consolidating our immigration offices and bringing all of our immigration employees under one roof for more effective and further outreach to the immigrant population of Southwest Florida. With this said, we would also like to welcome to our staff, Eileen Ortegon, who has accepted the position of Immigration Administrative Assistant. We hope as we continue to grow and set down deeper roots in our new permanent location, we will be more efficient and effective in the way we help the people of Southwest Florida. We are excited and truly grateful to everyone who made this possible.
We will be hosting a Grand Re-Re-Opening and Dedication Open-House on:
October 24 from 4pm – 7pm.
Hope to see you there.
Mission Start – Lehigh
In furthering our mission, “To help immigrants to an abundant life and the kingdom of God,” we have began to partner with Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Lehigh Acres. This new “Mission Start – Lehigh,” will help me to fulfill part of my calling in helping to start one of the two multicultural ministries, one being out in Lehigh Acres, Florida. We look forward to seeing where the Lord directs and guides our planning. We will keep you posted as things start to develop.
I pray that God continues to bless our work here and that God would continue to bless you as you all have been a blessing to us. And as we are directed by God to continue to teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all; please continue to keep us in your prayers and pray that God would open the hearts and the minds of those we meet to receive the Good New which is Jesus Christ; His life, death, and resurrection for us all. God be with you now and always.
In His Service with You,
Pastor Seth DeBartolo
For three days this week, our Vacation Bible School was a time of fun and learning about our Lord and His love for His children. We learned how God is always there for us through the “wild ride of life”. We started with 17 children and over 14 support volunteers and ended with over 27 children in attendance. We started by traveling with baby Moses down the Nile River, and learned that God was there with Moses the whole time. We learned about the Israelites entering the Promised Land, and we ended with the baptism of our Lord Jesus. Through all of these lessons, we explored just how big and wide the Love God has for us.
The children listened to Bible stories, played games, and did crafts. They prayed together and sang songs about God’s love for us through all of our good and bad times. They also enjoyed breakfast and lunch prepare by the ladies of Amigos Center in Immokalee.
Thanks to all who made this event a success and especially thanks to God our Father who loves us so much he sent His Son to earth to save us.
May 7, 2018
It is hard to believe that we are more than halfway done with our time here learning Spanish and about the culture.I cannot thank our instructor enough for taking the time to really teach us and show us how the our Spanish can be used in every day life. This past weekend was filled with preparation for our mid-course written exam. Tomorrow we have our oral proficiency exams. In conversation this week, Karl said, “It’s one thing to learn the grammar and it’s another thing to apply it. It’s a process of taking what we learned in the class room and applying it to everyday life.” This has been a great learning experience and we cannot wait to apply what we have learned.
This past week went by so fast.We had a great time at worship
on Sunday. We met up with several missionaries too. Pastor Ted Krey (center), his wife Rebecca (right) and their kids made plans with us to meet with them for dinner this past Tuesday. It was a great insightful time where Karl and I learned the ins and outs of missionary work as well as church planting in the Latino culture. We have some great gems to share with the community at large when we get back as we continue to connect people to Christ.
On Monday, it was the observance of the Dominican Republic Labor Day.There were no classes at the Institute. Leonardo surprised us by taking us to Puerto Plata to see the beach and spend some time with his family. It was a quick trip, but really enjoyable. The “Smaller
Christ,” similar to the one in Rio, can be seen all the way from the beach. As well as Poseidon on one of the rock formations off the coast. It was a nice time getting to know his family and what they do here in the Dominican Republic too. We ended our trip with a lovely meal of fish and pasta from the local restaurant on the way back from Porta Plata.
This past Saturday, Karl and I decided to walk all the way from where we are staying to the Institute (about a 5 mile hike). Along the way, we took our time to take in our surroundings and check out the baseball stadium and basketball stadium along the way. We also noticed several little huts by the water for those who are homeless to live. Like in many places, they are not given the time of day and are often overlooked. Karl and I also experienced a bit of rudeness from a waiter at one of the local establishments as he refused to serve us. We simple got a different waiter, but the experience was interesting to say the least.
On Sunday, Karl and I attended the teacher appreciation celebration at one of the local piscinas (pools). There was great food, music, games, swimming and of course great fellowship. I even learned the basic steps to a few types of Dominican Republican dances.
On a separate note, my ordination date has been set as May 27, 2018. It will be at 4pm at Grace Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida with a light meal to follow. Please let me know if you plan on attending.
Have A Great Day!
1) Luncheon Fundraiser Update
2) Servant Event In Immokalee
3) Pastoral Staff Gears Up For Their D.R. Edu. Trip
The results are in! I want to give you an update from our Amigos Center fundraiser luncheon, “A Friend in Need.” There were 146 Amigos who attended the Luncheon on March 21. The goal was set at $120,000 and was joyfully met. Now, as continued donations come in, we have surpassed our expectation and are just over $123,000. Thank you for your continued support! It is because of your dedication to our mission and vision that we will be able to further our services and ministry in Southwest Florida as we help people to an abundant life in Southwest Florida in the kingdom of God.
On April 8th, a group of youth and adults from Faith Lutheran Church, Naples helped to distribute food to Immokalee residence at our Amigos Center on South 2nd Street in Immokalee, Florida. It was a great time for the youth and adults to be Christ’s hands, feet, and mouth all the while helping to fill the stomachs of those in need. Food distributions are a regular part of the continued service and assistance for the community give at our Amigos Center. In Ave Maria, donations were also collected by volunteers on Saturday for Harry Chapin Food Bank. Nine carts full of groceries were donated to be redistributed in the local area through the Amigos Center later this week. Overall, the youth and adults helped to feed more than 350 people as they assisted in distributing more than five pallets worth of food.
If you are interested in helping out at the Amigos Center in Immokalee, please contact Pastor Karl Glander at (239)-657-3822. Your prayers and support are always welcome as we continue to serve the people in Southwest, Florida.
(Left: Seth DeBartolo, Pastor-Elect, Center: Pastor Karl Glander, Right: Board Member Leonardo Garcia – Program Coordinator)
You may have heard that we are expanding our pastor ministry team by extending a call to Seth DeBartolo a recent graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. The official “Call Service” for Seth will be on April 25 at 7pm. He and Pastor Karl Glander will be continuing their education by heading down to the Dominican Republic on April 16th. They will be immersed in the language and culture for 5 week in order to do more effective outreach for the kingdom of God, when they return. Each week they will be updating you by email as to their formal and informal education progresses. Please keep Pastor Glander, Seth and their families in your prayers during this educational training opportunity.
Florida with the tools to be successful and contributing
members of our community and the Kingdom of God
WHO IS IN NEED?
By Seth DeBartolo
As I take a moment to reflect on our upcoming luncheon, “A Friend in Need,” on March 21, I am reminded that we are stewards of what God has given us. It is by His grace we have what we have, but what is it that we actually have? You may think at times, “Well, everyone needs something – for the hungry, it’s food, for the sick, it’s medicine, for the homeless, it’s a place to rest, for the lonely it’s someone to visit them or a sense of belonging.” You may say to yourself, “I am none of these things. I have a home, food, and clothes. I am healthy,” and so on, but you are still part of this equation.
I hope to see you there!
Our job, as people of faith, is not to just help people to a better life in this world, but to a new life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus saw people who were focused on satisfying their own physical needs. It’s not that he didn’t care about that. He gave them food, he healed their bodies, he delivered them from devils. But he didn’t stop there. And neither can we. Jesus came to give them eternal life. That’s why he said:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Twenty years ago a handful of forward looking church leaders saw the challenge. They saw the Hispanic population growing in our communities, but not in our churches. After 20 years I can report with all certainty that the challenge has not been met. If there was a challenge 20 years ago, that challenge has quadrupled since then. It has grown with the unprecedented increase of immigrants moving to our Southwest Florida paradise.
How will we respond? With horror or with hope? The response to this challenge must be met by the new, up-and-coming leadership of the immigrants themselves. We have a lot to learn from them. Immigrants are not a threat, they are our future. We have already trained and ordained two Haitian pastors.
By God’s grace Sergio Campos, a leader of our Immokalee Hispanic church will be ordained into the pastoral ministry within a few years. If we lean forward with the training of new leaders, if we are willing to take risks by entrusting leadership into foreign hands, we may very well be looking forward to a growth that will rise to the challenge we have before us. Our choice as a church is to grow or to die. I chose to grow. Thank you for being a part of this.
If you would like to hear more about our plans for the future, please join us by R.S.V.P. to our Annual Luncheon March 21, 2018.
We hope to see you at the Southwest Florida Event Center in Bonita Springs, FL. For more information contact Donna Selle (239) 437-6727 or visit our website www.amigoscenter.org.
As we all get back into the norms of life, we all have time and peace of mind to look back over the past few weeks. Before the storm there was a roller coaster of uncertainty. Early in the week, it looked like Southwest Florida was in the dead center of the dreaded “cone”. As the week progressed, the “cone” shifted east, and we breathed a sigh of relief, but continued to prepare, just in case. Then the realization that the storm was shifting west again, and had the potential to pass just off our coast, resulting in wind damage, but also catastrophic storm surge. We watched with incredulous horror as this huge storm of historic proportions decimated several Caribbean islands, including St. Martin. The images coming from those islands were heartbreaking, and we worried: would Irma do the same to OUR home?
Like many of you, our family scrambled to prepare our home and property. As the week progressed, we became more and more concerned, as there was NO plywood to be had anywhere, and we worried about several vulnerable windows. We prepared as well as we could: trimming bushes and trees and securing anything that could not be brought inside. All the while, there was an overlying worry: how were we going to protect our windows? However, God, in His power and goodness, was at work. On Friday evening before the storm we still had no plywood for our windows, but around 7pm, there was a knock on the door, and there was one of our neighbors, offering several sheets of his leftover plywood. Another neighbor had another extra sheet of plywood as well.
Thanks be to God! On Saturday, we boarded up what we could, and tried to get everything ready to ride out the storm. We kept a close eye on storm surge predictions, and when the worst-case scenario had our area under 6 FEET of water, we decided that it would be safer to evacuate. That left us with a dilemma, since it was such a last-minute decision. Should we just go to Immokalee? Or north toward Orlando? Or to the east side of the state? We worried about traffic jams and lack of gasoline if we tried to go too far. Once again, God provided. After some online searching and some phone calls, we were able to locate a hotel room in Fort Lauderdale. We arrived at the hotel just as the weather was starting to turn ugly, and then learned that they had been booked for weeks. A room opened up, literally as we were looking.
Later, someone commented that we picked a good hotel because it is a hurricane rated building. I told them I didn’t pick it; it was the only one available. It was a surreal experience, sitting in a hotel room with no power, and a tropical storm raging outside the window, while we streamed the live news on our phones and watched the eye of the storm pass right over our neighborhood. We prayed, (a lot!) and took comfort in God’s promises:
Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
As we left our house on Saturday afternoon, we honestly did not know what, if anything, we would be returning to. We tried to trust in God, and at the same time be mentally prepared for the possibility of losing our house and everything in it. When our neighbor texted us, during the eye of the storm, to let us know that our house was standing, with only minor damage, we wept with relief and thanked God for His protection. We returned on Monday after the storm to find a big tree down in our yard, some damage to the roof, but overall, our house was fine.
On Tuesday, I went out to Immokalee to check on members of the church, and the Amigo Center’s staff and volunteers. Thanks be to God: no one was hurt. Yes, they had damage their homes: to porches, siding and screen rooms but everyone was ok. The next day, Wednesday, Harry Chapin Food Bank sent a truck to Immokalee with water and MREs. After almost 200 families were served, Collier County workers arrived with a truck filled with water and more food. By the end of Saturday, one week after the storm, about 1,000 families were given food or a hot meal through the Red Cross in our parking lot. Time and time again, people told us that they had damage to their homes or yards, but invariably, they were thankful that they were safe; that their lives had been spared.
The next week, the volunteers worked every day, serving over 300 families per day. In addition, 1,000 hot meals were served through Friday. I received an almost constant stream of phone calls and text messages from all over the country, offering donations of food, clothing and supplies. Once again, God was at work through many people, making His love and grace known. On Sunday after worship, a family arrived with a van filled with clothing, food, and personal hygiene supplies. A short time later, a semi arrived from
Michigan, filled with donated water and diapers. With the help of a forklift, (and driver), graciously loaned to us by Grass Roots Kitchen, pallet after pallet was unloaded from the semi trailer and dropped in the parking lot. Then came the work of transferring everything into the Amigos Center lobby. In case you’re wondering, a pallet of bottled water is HEAVY, even with the help of a pallet jack! Thanks to the help of many volunteers who were willing to do a fair amount of heavy lifting, we were able to move all of the donated goods into the Center.
Our volunteers have worked hard, organizing the donated supplies and helping with distribution to hundreds of people. We are continuing twice weekly food distributions throughout the month of October. However, we are also focusing on church members and community members who have had severe damage to their homes; many have been deemed uninhabitable, and others have significant damage to the structure or contents. Some homes sustained flood damage, and others had water damage to the interior and contents because of roof leaks or broken windows. I have been working on identifying needs and locating assistance for these families.
As I look back over the past month, I am humbled and awed by the many demonstrations of God’s grace and power. Of course, there is the obvious; the storm itself, an awesome and terrible display of God’s power in nature. God’s providence has been shown in abundance, before, during and after the storm, in answered prayers, in neighbors helping neighbors, and in the generosity shown by so many people. God truly is good, and His power is made perfect in weakness as He says. We were all “weak” in the days after the storm; no electricity, limited or no cell service, no internet, wondering how we were going to ever get our lives back to normal. But time and time again, God provides. Thanks be to God!
What a good and gracious God we have, even in the midst of the recent storms! This is the God of whom the Psalmist sang, “made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” Ps. 107:25. Hurricane Irma is history, but her effects will be long felt.
Here is just a little insight as to the effects Irma has had on the Amigos Center and Southwest Florida.
Sad to say, we did not fair too well at the Amigos Center in Bonita Springs. It is now wet, moldy and in need of rehab before it can open again. We put two tarps over it to mitigate any further rain damage and packed most things up in preparation for a move to another facility. We still need to remove the wet carpets and ceiling tiles. Thankfully, all of the electronics at this facility are still in good working order. The building now has electricity, but no telephone/internet.
I don’t know yet where we will be able to reopen, however, Lyndsay and Evelyn have returned to work this past Monday. They expect to begin seeing clients sometime next week. This is important as the DACA renewals must be done by October 5, so it is urgent that we reopen in some temporary place ASAP.
Our Amigos Center in Fort Myers was infested with mold, due to the recent weather. Property Restoration was working to address these problems and now we are functioning normally at this facility.
Our Amigos Center in Immokalee weathered the storm well. Pastor Selle and his family stayed there during the hurricane. Electricity has finally been restored and there are some new leaks in the roof. No other damage to building itself.
However, one tree fell and broke one of our outdoor light poles and smashed the fence. Karl and volunteers opened this past Wednesday morning to allow Harry Chapin to distribute water, ice and MREs for those in and around Immokalee who were in need. They have opened several times in order to assist further.
We have lots of people calling and wanting to donate items and are offering to help. We are asking them to call Karl. Starting next week we will put Tulisha, one of our key volunteers, at 20 hours a week to handle food distributions. That will allow Karl to focus on lining up work projects for Immokalee families who suffered damage to their homes.
We will hold our regular worship services this Sunday.
Our personnel weathered the storm, but like many here in Southwest Florida, have damage in one form or another. One of our legal assistance, Evelyn, lost a portion of her trailer home in Rosemary Park. Also, our attorneys Lyndsay and Christina, experienced some water damage at their respective homes. Karl is still dealing with clearing his house from storm damage and Seth is dealing with downed trees and recently had power restored. Pastor Andre and Pastor Saint Luc suffered some damage to their homes as well, but are continuing to serve their roles at the Amigos Center.
By the grace of God, we are receiving some significant help from LCMS Disaster Relief. We are working on a $25K grant for relief work, as they already gave us $3,500 in VISA gift cards, which we have already begun distributing to those in need. More financial help is available upon request. This past Thursday, the LCMS Disaster Relief dropped off a semi-truck load of supplies at Zion Lutheran (diapers, tools, generators, tarps, etc.) We used some of it for the Bonita Springs Amigos Center. They are stationing two point people at Zion Lutheran in Fort Myers to help coordinate needed relief supplies.
Volunteer work crews are already here with more to arrive next week.
Thanks be to God for his mercy endures forever.
Now is a great time to gather and rejoice in how our gracious God held us safely through the storm. Even if you, like so many others, had some damages from the wind and water, all of the material things can be replaced, but God alone preserves life! You may have been without electricity, but you have had power all along with Jesus by your side!
If you feel you want to give of your time, talents, or treasures for recovery efforts, please contact Karl Glander at (239) 293-1489 or follow the prompt below to donate.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a ministry outreach churches provide to educate children about God and all He has done for us. On a rainy June 7th the Amigos Center in Immokalee had a delightful and eager crowd of kids ready to have fun and learn more about their Lord and Savior. The theme this year was “A Mighty Fortress” in commemoration of the Lutheran Reformation – 500 years ago. Each day totaled 22+ kids and over 14 adult volunteers from Immokalee Lutheran Church and the Amigos Center who assisted to make this VBS possible. The ages of the kids ranged from pre-school to sixth grade. VBS has been held at this location for the past 2 years and continues to grow each year. This Vacation Bible School was a wonder opportunity for kids to socialize and learn more about religion in a relaxed and fun setting. V.B.S. has something for everyone, despite each person’s religious views. While activities are centered around teaching kids about God, V.B.S. combines fun and learning without the formality of a Sunday service. This event was provided free to the public because of the gracious donations given by members of Immokalee Lutheran Church and donations received by the Amigos Center.
We cannot thank you and the volunteers enough for your prayers and support.