Moment for Mission
“We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.” —Ephesians 2:10, CEB
After 20 months in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, J. underwent major surgery and was released under an order of supervision from Stewart Detention Center, Lumpkin, Georgia. He has lived in the United States for 28 years and has children who are U.S. citizens.
Because COVID-19 cases had been reported at Stewart, the judge ordered J. to quarantine for two weeks before returning home to his family in New York City. But J. knew few people in Georgia and had nowhere to go to quarantine.
Fortunately, J. contacted El Refugio, a ministry of hospitality that serves immigrants at Stewart and cares for their loved ones. El Refugio found a safe place for J. to stay and provided necessities while he recovered.
Michelle Fierro, El Refugio’s post-release coordinator, checked in with him daily. “Coming out of detention, the environment is so oppressive,” she said. At the detention center, J. was known only by the last three digits of his number.
In early 2020, El Refugio received a solidarity grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to help transition its ministries during the pandemic so it could continue to accompany immigrants.
In May, J. left for New York to enter the care of a human rights partner that works with families facing deportation before reuniting with his three grown daughters.
Today is UMCOR Sunday, an opportunity to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Please give generously.
Loving God, you created us to serve you by doing good things. Help us to reach out to your children, especially those whom others often forget. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Fourth Sunday in Lent — Great and generous God, our lives are surrounded by things that steal our lives, inflict and destroy us. The tithes and offering we share with you this day are a way of keeping us focused not on the things that would take life away but will renew our lives: hope, love, compassion, empathy. As the Israelites looked to a serpent on a pole for healing, we look to a Savior on a cross to be brought back to life. In that holy name, Jesus the Messiah, we pray. Amen. (Numbers 21:4-9)
El Refugio began in 2010 as a visitation ministry to accompany immigrants held at the Stewart Detention Center, a private, for-profit institution more than two hours southwest of Atlanta. The nearest hotel is about 40 miles away. Volunteers had discovered that families would often drive eight or more hours to see their loved ones for the permitted one-hour visit but had nowhere to buy food or stay for the night.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, El Refugio continued to offer hospitality, assisting those released with one or two nights of lodging, clean clothing and toiletries. The agency coordinated with families to find transportation or pay for bus or airline tickets to return immigrants to their families in the U.S.
Recently, El Refugio received a solidarity grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to help transition its ministries during the pandemic.
Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday, celebrated on March 14, 2021, offer a lifeline to people in crisis. Thank you!
Adapted from “Hospitality Continues for Detained Immigrants during Pandemic,” Christie R. House, Global Ministries website, September 2020. Used by permission.