We love to highlight the inspiring and impactful work with refugees and immigrants being undertaken by Lutheran churches across the nation. And this edition we want to share with you about the powerful impact being made by this church in New Jersey that focuses on the needs of detained immigrants.
Pastor Collazo and his congregation at St. Isabel’s have a vibrant ministry visiting immigrants in the local detention center. Almost 80 church members are serving and helping immigrants in this way, whether offering the emotional support and friendship detainees need, or filling out legal paperwork, or even helping detainees get access to necessities like glasses.
Pastor Collazo himself holds a regular Bible study for detainees, helps provide English classes, and uses the Know Your Rights booklet to help detainees understand their rights. And the church has a lawyer available to meet with detainees and answer questions.
“All the people who come through the church contribute in one way or another and they are a great resource,” says Pastor Collazo.
“We prioritize direct contact with the detainees, and talking to them directly. Sometimes they don’t even know that we’re coming to visit them, but when they see us they feel happy and feel like someone is looking after them. They have hope, and no longer feel alone.”
“Seeing their faces and smiles is the best thing you can encounter,” Pastor Collazo says.
With approximately 34,000 immigrants in detention centers all across the nation, there is a great need for more people and churches to come alongside and be a support and encouragement to these precious lives. Please pray about how your church can get involved in this vital work. And thank you, too, for your financial support that makes it possible for LIRS to run significant support programs in detention centers, especially with the provision of foster care for young detainees.