As the year draws to a close, program directors and agencies reflect back over what they’ve accomplished – how many families fed, how many volunteer hours served, how many persons enrolled in classes.
But I’m not going to do that.
One of the things that distinguishes LUCHA Ministries is not what we do, but how we do it. Every leader associated with LUCHA strives to share Christ’s love with those among whom we serve. So, I want to share with you what we consider our most important “accomplishments” this past year.
We held the hand of a newly-arrived Guatemalan mom as she gave birth to a still-born baby. We prayed together, and we shed tears as she held him and said goodbye. We were the lone mourners at a graveside service for baby Angel, and knelt in the dirt with Carolina and her 6-year-old daughter to fill the tiny grave.
We sat in the hospital waiting room with Carolina’s long-time friend, Fernando, who stayed with her during the birth and offered his name for baby Angel’s birth certificate when there was no father.
We picked up an angry teen from school who claimed to be sick. Mina, a US citizen, has spent most of her 14 years with her grandmother and hates everything about her life in the US. She just wants to return to Mexico, where she can do as she pleases. Mina tries to make her mom’s life miserable, thinking she’ll send her away. We provide parenting classes, counseling, and support to her mom and step-dad as they struggle with Mina’s anger, resentment, and destructive behavior.
We marched with Lucy, age 7, and Alan, age 13, in a demonstration in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Washington, DC. Their mom, a citizen of Spain, has been detained since July and may receive her final deportation order before the end of the year, as she has run out of options for staying in the US. Their dad, from Bolivia, struggles to hold the family together.
We’ve spent hours on the phone and in the offices of various healthcare providers, hospitals, and collection agencies on behalf of an uninsured patient with diabetes and renal failure. Andrés is on dialysis and unable to work, and his teenage daughters are trying to manage his care.
We sat for hours in the ER with a quiet, shy 14-year-old from Guatemala. His depression had progressed to the point of being suicidal, and he was admitted for in-patient treatment. Daniel became a special volunteer for LUCHA over the summer, helping with the food pantry, working with younger kids at the pool, and leading recreation and soccer during Kids’ Camp.
We celebrated events with young adults who grew up in LUCHA’s youth group, and we remembered the challenges they had growing up. Rosie, from Mexico, now has a new baby, a new job, and became a US citizen this year. Gerardo enlisted in the Marine Corps, and his Guatemalan family threw a party to celebrate his completion of boot camp. Antonella, from Nicaragua, graduated with honors from college and is marrying her high school sweetheart.
We’ve been in all the hard places this year – hospitals, cemeteries, court, jail, detention, police interrogations – to remind people that God is there, too. Wasn’t that God’s point in sending Jesus to live among us, to walk with us in the joys and struggles of life? To understand and develop a relationship with us?
No one should have to face life’s challenges alone, and it makes a difference when we take the time to be present rather than just provide services.
Statistically speaking, these are 8 client families representing 33 individuals receiving services in 3 program areas. That’s the “what” of our ministry. The “how” is the relationships and trust we build, the value we place on each person as a child of God, and the mutual respect we share. It’s relating to our clients in ways that demonstrate God’s love and care for each one of them.