"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hispanic Evangelical News

Leading the Hispanic Church
Lifting the Hispanic Dream

Hispanic Evangelical News
"La Voz Evangelica"August 2007

Dr. Jesse Miranda Joins NHCLC Executive Leadership Team, Appointed Chairman of World Hispanic Evangelical Alliance and President of Advisory Board
(Hispanic News, Washington D.C.) The Godfather of Hispanic Evangelicals, Dr. Jesse Miranda received appointment to the Executive Leadership Team of America's leading Latino Evangelical Organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. Miranda is the founder of AMEN, The National Alliance of Evangelical Ministries, America's first Hispanic Evangelical Network."NHCLC represents a much needed culturally affirmative world view with a deeper spiritual expression and a broader social agenda and is an authentic, independent witness of strong Christian principles for the growing, diverse Latino community", stated Miranda. Dr. Miranda brings the spirit of AMEN to the NHCLC. "Dr. Miranda brings to the NHCLC one of the sharpest minds in the Latino Community", stated Rev. Felix Posos, NHCLC Board Chairman. Last Month, The NHCLC recognized the Jesse Miranda Center in Vanguard University as the official Research and Leadership Training Center for the organization. In addition to his board leadership role, he will also serve as Chairman of the World Hispanic Evangelical Alliance and as President of the Advisory Board. Dr. Miranda continues to serve the Assemblies of God General Council as Executive Presbyter.

NHCLC Declares War on Xenophobia and Anti-Latino Rhetoric(Hispanic News, Washington D.C.) The Nation's largest Hispanic Christian organization declared war on xenophobia and anti-Latino/Hispanic rhetoric. "It's a terrible lose", stated Rev. Felix Posos, Conference Chairman at the news of the Senate's recent failed cloture vote on immigration reform. "For the next year and 6 months, 12 million people will hide deeper in the shadows and our Nation continues to be polarized by demagoguery and political expediency", stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the Hispanic NAE. The NHCLC launched a nationwide tour engaging close to 18,000 churches in registering voters, addressing xenophobia and racism from the pulpits while simultaneously presenting "The Hispanic American Christian Manifesto". "We will share with all Americans the reasons why this immigrant community will benefit our nation and enrich the American experience', affirmed Rodriguez. Dr. Jesse Miranda, Advisory Board President and Board Member will host a summit in 2008 where the Manifesto will be presented to Media and the Nation. "This battle is far from over, and at the end of the day, Righteousness and Justice will prevail".

Hispanic Mega Church Association to Host annual Conference
Beginning April 2008The Recent Pew Research Data in respect to the growing Hispanic Evangelical population prompted the HISPANIC MEGA CHURCH ASSOCIATION or HMCA to announce an annual conference to discuss issues relevant and unique to America's largest Latino Evangelical Congregations.

Rev. Gilbert Velez, Association Director ,Senior Pastor of Mercy Church in Laredo, Texas and Vice President for Public Policy for the NHCLC, serves on the National Leadership Consortium with other non Hispanics such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. "This network is very much needed", stated Dr. Saturnino Gonzalez, Senior Pastor of the 4,000 member Calvary Temple in Orlando, Florida and member of the HMCA. Recently, Rev. Wilfredo DeJesus, Senior Pastor of the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois, was featured in a Reuters News Story regarding transformational ministries. The annual event will take place in April in the midst of the annual Hispanic NAE Convention.

Promise Keepers and NHCLC Reaffirm Strategic Partnership. President Joins NHCLC advisory Board, NHCLC President Appointed to Promise Keepers Board of Directors representing the Latino Community.
(Hispanic Evangelical News). The World's foremost recognized Men's Ministry, Promise Keepers, invited and appointed Rev. Sam Rodriguez, NHCLC President, to serve on the National Board. Rodriguez, who speaks for PK expressed gratitude for the appointment. "My desire is for the Latino Church to make PK the premier partner in transforming men around the world", stated Rodriguez. In addition, Tom Fortson, Promise Keepers President and CEO, joined the advisory board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and reaffirmed the strategic partnership between both organizations.

NHCLC President, Rodriguez speaks at National Church in D.C. Addressing in Pentecost. Clinton and Obama address Faith Issues
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez joined Rev. Jim Wallis, Rev Fred Haynes, Lynn Hybels and others in the annual Pentecost Conference. Rodriguez shared on The Prophetic Suppositions regarding Poverty and Justice". The Conference culminated with a live CNN Televised Presidential Forum on Faith where Sen. Clinton, Obama and Edwards participated. Conference segments are available on youtube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwnAIdp0cU4

Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, NHCLC President, address Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Republican National Hispanic Assembly(Washington DC). Governor Mitt Romney and Rev. Sam Rodriguez addressed The Republican Hispanic Convention. Romney identified the Latino community as important members of the American community while Rodriguez gave an inspirational message on how Latinos will preserve the Nation's Faith Heritage.

New Life Covenant Church Draws Global Attention
Pastor Wilfredo DeJesus and the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago continue to present a vibrant model of a 21st Century Kingdom congregation. "Pastor DeJesus is one of America's Top Pastors", declared Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Hispanic NAE President. Reuters news service contacted Rodriguez regarding the Chicago church as the congregation's outreach ministries have drawn global attention. Pastor DeJesus serves on the National Board of the NHCLC and is an integral part of the Hispanic Mega Church Association. The 4,000 plus congregation incorporates biblical principles in ministering to the outcast, alienated and broken.

NHCLC selected to spearhead California Marriage Amendment Campaign
WASHINGTON, June 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ Reverend SamuelRodriguez, Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage Foundation (AFM) today announced the launch of the California LatinoSteering Committee to Protect Marriage, as radical activists in Sacramentocontinue to strike at the commonsense definition of marriage in the statelegislature and courts.

"Marriage is under grave threat in the state of California. And if welose in California, we could well lose the national struggle to savemarriage," said Matt Daniels. "Activists lawyers are challengingProposition 22 before the California Supreme Court. Simultaneously, a billintroduced by San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno was recently approved inthe California Assembly, designed to overturn Proposition 22."

On March 7, 2000, 61.4% of California voters cast their ballots insupport of Proposition 22 -- the California Defense of Marriage Act. Whileshort of a state constitutional amendment, this popular referendum protectsmarriage in California as the union of a man and a woman. "For several decades, America has been wandering in a wilderness ofsocial problems caused by family disintegration," said Rev. Sam Rodriguez,an AFM Advisory Board Member. "Tragically, as bad as our current situationmay be, it could soon become dramatically worse. This is because Californiacourts and the legislature are poised to erase the legal road map formarriage and the family from state law."

Initial members of the Latino community in California serving on theSteering Committee include: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Jr., National HispanicChristian Leadership Conference, Rev. Felix Posos, Northern Pacific LatinAmerican District of the Assemblies of God, Dr. Jessie Miranda, AlianzaMinisterial Evangelica Nacional, Dr. David Lazo, Church of Power, Dr.Sergio Navarrette, Assemblies of God, Pacific Latin, and Rev. GilbertMontelongo, Tabernacle of Praise. The Alliance for Marriage Foundation is a non-partisan, multiculturalcoalition whose Board of Advisors includes Rev. Walter Fauntroy -- theformer DC Delegate who organized the March on Washington for Martin LutherKing Jr. as well as other civil rights and religious leaders, and national legalexperts. http://www.allianceformarriage.org/

Hispanic Reformation
The number of Spanish-speaking evangelicals is growing, in Wichita and across the U.S.
The Wichita Eagle
When Milca Molina moved to Wichita from Los Angeles nearly 20 years ago, there were two evangelical churches in the city that had a predominantly Spanish-speaking congregation. Today, there are more than 15, according to Molina, who helped start one of them -- Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Jerusalem, 1650 S. Broadway. Molina serves as associate pastor of the church. Her husband is pastor.

"We are reaching out to people," Molina said, "and the churches are growing."
Take the Molinas' church, for example. Molina and her husband, Azarel, started the church 15 years ago, and it had fewer than 40 members.
The church now has a congregation of about 300 and is planning to soon purchase its first church building. It currently holds its worship services at the former Kansas Blue Print building.The boom among Hispanic evangelical Christians isn't limited to Wichita.Nationwide, there are now about 10 million Hispanic Protestants, according to the recent Hispanic Churches in American Public Life research project.

That number has doubled during the past 10 years, according to the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., founder and president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The conference represents Hispanic evangelicals in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"This is the Protestant Reformation for Hispanics," Rodriguez said.
The growth shouldn't be a surprise.Nationwide, the U.S. Hispanic population grew from 22.4 million in 1990 to an estimated 42.7 million in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.In Wichita, the population has also increased rapidly. According to 2005 bureau estimates, nearly 51,000 Hispanics lived in Wichita. That number has more than tripled since 1990, according to the bureau.

Among all U.S. Hispanics, nearly 70 percent are Catholics.
But a report on Hispanics and religion released earlier this year showed that half of Hispanic evangelicals came to the faith from other backgrounds and more than 80 percent of them are former Catholics.

That report -- conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based research groups Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life -- said that more than 80 percent of all Hispanic Christian converts cited a "desire for a more direct, personal experience with God" as a reason for their conversion. Few Hispanics -- only 7 percent -- said they left Catholicism because they were dissatisfied with the church's position on certain issues, the report said.

"They are saying, 'We like our Catholic faith. However, these evangelicals, they really have this going on with this personal relationship component,' " Rodriguez said. "'It has more animated services, it's more lively, it's more Hispanic.' "

That's a style of worship that Wichitan Bernabe Perez enjoys."It's the way we worship the Lord, with the Latino flavor," said Perez, who grew up evangelical and attends Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Jerusalem.

"People are looking for something different in the way they can find God."
Bishop Michael Jackels, of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, said the diocese is aware of the Hispanic evangelical churches in the area. But he doesn't see that the Catholic church is in competition with other churches.Several churches within the diocese offer Spanish-language services, many of which are at capacity. In addition, Jackels said, some churches offer charismatic prayer groups for their members and use instruments such as drums and guitars in their Spanish services.

"I don't think it's 'we'll do this to compete with,' " Jackels said, "but rather, 'we'll offer this as a service to respond to a need or a desire.' "
The Rev. Abraham Arevalos, pastor of Wichita's Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, said that while many Hispanic evangelical churches are growing, their relatively small size is another attraction.His church started five years ago with 35 people in the Sunday morning service. Today, 80 to 100 attend.

"Many are looking for an alternative," said Arevalos, who is president of the Alliance of Hispanic Churches, which serves the evangelical churches in Wichita. "Our churches are smaller, friendly, and people can find help there."
And that size, he said, helps members find what they are looking for in an evangelical church."People want a personal relationship with God," he said.

U.S. Hispanic believers prefer ‘Spirit-filled’ worship in Spanish
By Ted Parks
Associated Baptist Press
WASHINGTON (ABP)—Hispanic believers in the United States prefer “Spirit-filled religious expression” and gravitate toward a “distinctively ethnic” worship experience, opting to go to church with other Hispanics and speak Spanish when they get there, according to a recent report by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center.Titled “Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion,” the Pew study suggests more than half of Latino Catholics in the United States, 54 percent, are charismatic or Pentecostal, with the proportion of charismatic and Pentecostal believers even larger among Latino Protestants, at 57 percent.
These figures sharply contrast non-Hispanic believers, among whom about one of every 10 Catholics is charismatic or Pentecostal, compared to one out of five Protestants.

The report uses “renewalist Christianity” as an umbrella term for Pentecostal and charismatic movements worldwide. Renewalism stresses the direct presence of the Spirit in believers’ lives as evidenced by speaking in tongues, miraculous healings and divine revelations. A rapidly growing movement across the globe, renewalism includes about a quarter of the world’s Christians, the study says.

In addition to charismatic experiences, renewalist Christianity emphasizes regular Bible reading, evangelism, a literal view of Scripture, and the “prosperity gospel”—the belief that God rewards faithfulness with health and financial success.

Surprisingly, embracing practices like miraculous healings and divine revelations—phenomena associated with Pentecostal Protestants—has not undermined the doctrinal core of Latino Catholics in the United States.
The study showed charismatic Latino Catholics are more likely than their noncharismatic counterparts to pray the rosary, go to confession and believe in transubstantiation—the doctrine that the bread and wine of communion become Christ’s literal body and blood.
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the California-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, marvels at the widespread charismatic presence among Latino Catholics.“There are more Catholic Pentecostals than there are Pentecostal Pentecostals,” Rodriguez said.

He offered both theological and cultural explanations for the charismatic tilt of Latino believers. Latin America was colonized principally by Spain and Portugal—southern European nations remaining largely outside the Protestant Reformation that swept the north of Europe. So, Mexico and Central and South America were unable to experience the original spiritual revolution associated with Germany’s Martin Luther, Rodriguez said.

He linked the arrival of dramatic religious reform to the expansion of Pentecostal Christianity following the birth of the modern Pentecostal movement around the beginning of the 20th century.“All of a sudden, the Protestant Reformation hit Latin America via Pentecostalism,” Rodriguez said. “The very first time Latin America removed itself, in its definition, from the shackles of Catholicism came via this very experiential faith.”

Culturally, Rodriguez believes, charismatic Christianity resonates with the emotional and relational dimensions of Hispanic culture. Hispanics represent “a very affective ... sort of culture,” Rodriguez said. “The charismatic movement ... talks about relationship with the person of God through the Holy Spirit,” he explained. “The Spirit-filled ethos embraces emotions and experiential moments of faith, and ... that is the DNA of the Latino culture.

The Pew report also found Hispanic believers in the United States prefer worshipping with fellow Latino believers. Among Hispanic Catholics, 70 percent worship in ethnically and linguistically Hispanic churches. For evangelical Christians, the figure is 62 percent, for mainline Protestants, 48 percent. In the report, an “ethnic church” means one with at least some Hispanic clergy, worship services in Spanish and a majority of Hispanic congregants.

While higher percentages of foreign-born Latinos than U.S.-born go to services done in Spanish, Hispanic churches are by no means uniquely for Spanish-only immigrants. The study found 48 percent of U.S.-born Latino believers worship in Hispanic congregations.
As for language ability, 80 percent of Hispanics who primarily speak Spanish attend Latino churches, but, even among bilingual believers, 64 percent prefer a Hispanic worship experience.Rene Maciel, who will become president of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio in August, confirmed the tendency of Hispanic believers to stick together. While Latino Christians don’t intentionally avoid other believers, they often have practices rooted in culture that “keep drawing them to ... their congregations, to their people, to their worship services, to their music,” he said.

And with the university’s mission to train church leaders for service in Hispanic settings, Maciel emphasized the need for believers of all stripes to pay attention to the changing ethnic makeup where they live.
“There are more and more Hispanics moving into ... our neighborhood,” he said. “For us to be able to reach those people, we need to be cross-cultural. We need to understand the culture.”

Senate Delivers Fatal Blow to Immigration Bill
Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
WASHINGTON – The hard-pressed immigration bill which sought to repair a broken system suffered a fatal blow Thursday rendering it dead to Congress, yet is predicted to live on as a key issue during the presidential race.

Fierce opposition to the bill from conservative Republicans who called the legislation amnesty has derailed the legislation for the time being. The emotionally-charged immigration problem involving millions of illegal immigrants in the United States and many more waiting to enter the country will remain as it is until most likely after a new president is elected in 2008.

“Everyone knows that our immigration laws are broken,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, according to CNN. “And a country loses some of its greatness when it can’t fix a problem that everyone knows is broken. And that’s what happened today.”

The White House worked with a bipartisan group of senators for months to develop the immigration bill which was proclaimed to be a “grand bargain” between the two parties. It was hoped that the compromises in the bill such as a plan to legalize 12 million illegal immigrants balanced by tougher border security would be able to appease both sides.
However, Republicans still denounced the bill as amnesty.

“The end result was a blanket that was too small to cover everyone," said Tamar Jacoby, an analyst at the conservative Manhattan Institute and a strong supporter, according to The Associated Press. "By its nature, because it was a compromise, it was hard to muster intense support. But the opposition was very intense."

The plan fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and move towards final passage of the legislation. In the 46-53 vote, three-quarters of the Senate’s Republicans voted to kill the bill.
Immigration reform has been a central domestic issue for Bush for years. When the bill was first derailed earlier this month, the president took on the bill personally and made a rare appearance at the Capitol to rally fellow Republican senators to give the it another chance. Bush also sent two of his top aides to lobby for hours on Capitol Hill over a period of months to help push through the deal.“Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress’ failure to act on it is a disappointment,” a grim faced Bush said, according to AP.
“A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground. It didn’t work.Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, prominent immigration reform supporter Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony said the current system “will continue to permit the exploitation of workers, the separation of families, and will handicap efforts to secure our nation’s borders,” according to Reuters.
More churches and Christian leaders have recently become more vocal in their support of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would treat illegal immigrants humanely based on how the Bible teaches believers to treat strangers.

Metropolitan churches across the nation have even offered their buildings as sanctuary to shield illegal immigrants from law enforcement officers, while the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference representing 15 million Hispanic evangelicals urged believers to pray for the immigration legislation last Sunday.

“Immigration Reform is not just a political or moral issue, it is above all a spiritual issue,” stated Dr. Jesse Miranda, president of the Advisory Board for the Hispanic NAE.
Some Christian leaders, however, opposed the bill, concerned that the legislation would open the floodgates for millions to come to America among other issues. The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in an analysis of the bill estimated that its passage would mean at least 66 million legal immigrants coming to America in the next 20 years.

“No culture, no matter how open to diversity, can absorb that kind of population and societal shift in such a short period of time,” wrote Dr. Tony Beam, director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University, in a recent column in The Christian Post.Beam pointed to “God’s Word” saying that it calls for a balance between caring for the “stranger” in the land and the stranger’s responsibility to keep the law of the land.

After the bill’s defeat, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a strong opponent of the bill, reassured that there would be “no permanent hard feelings over this among the people who wanted to pass a bill they thought would help America.”
A key architect of the bill, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), however, said although the bill’s defeat is a disappointment, he reassured Americans that, “We will be back. This issue is not going away,” according to AP.

Hispanic Evangelical Blogs: Dr. Albert Reyes, Pan Dulce, A Must Read(Hispanic News) Hispanic Evangelical Leaders continue to conceptualize the Latino Faith narrative via publications, magazine articles, books and blogs. "We have within our community Top Tier writers, scholars and leaders such as Justo Gonzalez, Jesse Miranda, Eldin Villafane, Pablo Polischuk and Albert Reyes", stated Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Hispanic NAE President. Rodriguez called upon Hispanic Christians to contribute to the National dialogue on immigration, social justice and the browning of the Evangelical church by blogging and via the web, establishing chat rooms.

"Pan Dulce by Albert Reyes is an example of how Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 will create a virtual community that will tell the story, inform, inspire and enrich the narrative", added Rodriguez. In April of 2008, The NHCLC will host a forum for Hispanic Evangelical writers, bloggers and scholars.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Xenophobia Wins, Reason and Compromise Lose

Press Release

Contact: For Immediate Release
Diana Arenas June 8, 2007
Press and Media Director, NHCLC

(Washington DC) June 8, 2007
Nation’s Largest Hispanic Christian Organization Calls
Failed Cloture Vote a Victory for Xenophobia, Extremism and Polarization

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which is the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals, serving 15 Million Hispanic Born Again Christians and 18,000 Evangelical congregations, calls the Senates vote yesterday which resulted in a failed cloture motion, an egregious assault on the immigrant community, national unity, and family values. “Yesterday, political expediency, xenophobia and extremism defeated reason, compromise and reconciliation,” stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Conference President.

In addition, he added that unless there is immediate intervention on behalf of the White House in respect to Republican Senators and the House Leadership, 12 million people will hide deeper in the shadows, Anti Latino, and immigrant animosity will increase, our nation will continue to be polarized, and our borders will continue to be vulnerable. As a sister organization of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Hispanic NAE is mobilizing approximately 18,000 churches to contact members of Congress and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

legislation that will protect the borders, protect all families and protect American values.

“Immigration Reform is not a Political, Democratic, or Republican issue; it is above all a Moral issue. Congress just said no to Leviticus 19 and to Romans 13. Congress said no to treating the immigrant in a humane and biblical manner and to applying the rule of law,” declared Rodriguez. The Hispanic NAE led the moral and religious campaign calling for comprehensive immigration reform. Sidney Blumenthal credited the organization for derailing the Republican plan to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants.

White House Reacts to Senate Failed Procedural Motion on Immigration

What They're Saying:

Commentary On The Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill
"Doing Nothing … Is The Worst Possible Outcome"; This "Issue Can And Will Be Resolved"

"Inaction On Immigration Carries A Brutally High Price"

The Washington Post: "Having derailed immigration reform favored by a clear majority of Americans, the Senate may want to consider the effects of its resolute inaction. Proponents say that they have not given up. But assume, for a moment, that efforts to repair the nation's broken immigration system will not be revived for at least two years. Given current trends, that means 800,000 to 1 million additional immigrants will enter the country illegally or overstay their visas, drawn by the great magnet of the American economy to fill jobs that most Americans won't do." (Editorial, "Getting To No," The Washington Post, 6/10/07)

Los Angeles Times: "Reid's feelings may be hurt, and his skills as a negotiator are now seriously in doubt. But this is about more than face or partisan advantage. The Senate owes it to the millions of people whose futures hang on this legislation to try again. It is those futures – and the nation's – that rest on this bill." (Editorial, "Stuck On Immigration," Los Angeles Times, 6/8/07)

The New York Times: "The country cannot leave an unlawful, chaotic system to fester, with legal immigration channels clogged, families split apart, crops rotting and state and local governments dreaming up ways to punish 12 million people whose identities are unknown to the authorities, and who aren't leaving, no matter what Congress does." (Editorial, "A Failure Of Leadership," The New York Times, 6/9/07)

USA Today: "It's simply not feasible to go back two decades to start over – or to suddenly make it so difficult for illegals to work here that at least 12 million people magically self-deport, leaving restaurants, hotels and millions of small businesses with a crippling labor shortage. The critics should instead focus their efforts on a more legitimate goal: Making sure this reform includes both the means and the funding to keep millions more illegal immigrants from coming." (Editorial, "Amnesty? What Amnesty?" USA Today, 6/8/07)

"Doing Nothing Is Simply Not An Option"

The Albuquerque Journal: "…[F]or all its warts, it's hard to imagine how senators could argue the proposal is worse than the completely broken system we have. … Why should a status quo that encourages breaking the law, exploiting fugitive immigrants and leaving America vulnerable be perpetuated by continued congressional inaction? This legislation should be revived this week." (Editorial, "Revive And Pass Immigration Bill," The Albuquerque [NM] Journal, 6/10/07)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker: "Though the diehard nativists denounce as 'amnesty' any proposal that offers a path to legalization to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already here, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, now stalled in Congress, had offered a practical approach. It combined tough border enforcement with a path to legalization that included penalties. It was no easy forgiveness. If we don't pass such legislation, what's the alternative?" (Editorial, "Bright Young Immigrants Deserve Break," Atlanta [GA] Journal-Constitution, 6/11/07)

The Baltimore Sun: "That the Senate's so-called grand bargain should have met this swift end is particularly tragic because doing nothing about the nation's broken immigration system is perhaps the worst possible outcome. … Figuring out how to control the borders to effectively and humanely manage the flow of immigrants is an ongoing proposition that will require constant readjustment even after legislation is enacted. First, though, this bit of hard work must get done." (Editorial, "Too Heavy A Lift," The Baltimore Sun, 6/10/07)

Boston Globe: "Twelve million illegal immigrants were living and working inside US borders before Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy presented their bipartisan immigration reform bill last month, and 12 million are here now. How can the 'amnesty' opponents in the Senate who helped derail the bill Thursday possibly call that a victory?" (Editorial, "An Amnesty For Lousy Politics," Boston Globe, 6/9/07)

The Boston Herald: "…[T]o waste this opportunity, to see the human sorrow that results – as we did not long ago in New Bedford – would be tragic. … Surely common sense demands a solution – and the sooner the better." (Editorial, "Let's Not Give Up On Immigration Bill," The Boston Herald, 6/9/07)

The Denver Post: "Lawmakers from both parties must renew their efforts for a compromise. If not, Americans could be stuck with a broken immigration system for several more years, which is unacceptable. We need a law that goes beyond fence-building and acknowledges the economic realities of our growing immigrant workforce." (Editorial, "Renew Immigration Efforts," The Denver [CO] Post, 6/8/07)

The [Greensboro, NC] News & Record: "This bill was far from perfect, but it contained important and necessary improvements in immigration policy. … This issue is worth another try." (Editorial, "Dole Helps Break Deal, But That Solves Nothing," The [Greensboro, NC] News & Record, 6/9/07)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: " …[I]mmigration reform is not a luxury; it is a necessity. To have 12 million illegal immigrants permanently living in the shadows – and who can't all realistically be deported – makes no sense as social policy. … Mr. Reid and the Senate need to go back to work on this and not quit until they are done." (Editorial, "No Quitting," Pittsburgh [PA] Post-Gazette, 6/11/07)

Rochester [NY] Democrat And Chronicle: "If Congress walks away from the bill now, chances for passage in either the short or long term become extremely problematic." (Editorial, "Deal Still Possible," Rochester [NY] Democrat And Chronicle, 6/11/07)

San Antonio Express-News: "The legislation would benefit both immigrants and citizens, giving employers an opportunity to hire much-needed workers without depressing the wages of their U.S. counterparts. 'The bill is on life support, but it is not dead,' Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said, according to the Express-News. We hope not. If it is, the result will be what neither side wants – a problem that continues to grow. And that is unacceptable." (Editorial, "Bickering Threatens Immigration Reform," San Antonio [TX] Express-News, 6/9/07)

The San Diego Union-Tribune: "…[T]here is still hope for a solution to America's illegal immigration problem, if for no other reason than because there remains one thing on which all sides agree: Doing nothing is simply not an option. For Congress to chicken out on fixing this problem would … put off solving a serious problem that is never going to get any easier and may actually get more difficult as time goes on." (Editorial, "All Is Not Lost," The San Diego [CA] Union-Tribune, 6/11/07)

"This Issue Can And Will Be Resolved"

Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott (R-MS): "The Senate has two choices on immigration reform: Do something now to curtail illegal immigration. Or do nothing, accept the status quo and hope it doesn't get worse." (Trent Lott, "Immigration Bill: Can The U.S. Senate Proposal To Curtail Illegal Immigration Be Saved?" [Jackson, MS] Clarion Ledger, 6/10/07)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): "I don't think we should give up. … We have a failing system out there. … Even if it got 25 percent better it would be better than it is today." (Dena Bunis, "Immigration Bill Off The Floor, For Now," The Orange County Register 6/8/07)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "We're inside the 10-yard line, and we've got four downs… Within a matter of weeks, this issue can and will be resolved." (James Rosen, "Graham Unfazed By Immigration Defeat," McClatchy Newspapers, 7/9/07)

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ): "Everyone has their own definition [of amnesty] … I think it is a dead-end debate. … We have tried to do as many things as we can to ensure that for those that get to stay, they pay a price, and I don't think it's amnesty. For those who say, 'This bill is amnesty, we shouldn't pass it,' one of my responses is, 'OK, so do you like what we have?'" (Collin Levy, "The 'Amnesty' Canard," The Wall Street Journal, 6/9/07)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): "The status quo is de facto amnesty… So for us to do nothing and celebrate the fact that we stopped this legislation, well then those who have a better idea can give it to us. We can consider it and move forward." (Henry C. Jackson, "McCain: Time Short for Immigration Bill," The Associated Press, 6/9/07)

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO): "Our Nation badly needs the reform. Failure is not an option." (Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Statement On The Vote For Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Press Release, 6/7/07)

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): "We're going to get it done. … We have a road map. We know where we're going." (Jerome L. Sherman, "Specter Remains Optimistic About Immigration Overhaul," Pittsburgh [PA] Post-Gazette, 6/9/07

Confessions of a Migrant Worker

It is almost amusing to me the political rhetoric that is taking place concerning immigrants. It is a complicated issue no matter how you look at it but I would like to offer a personal perspective. As an evangelical leader who grew up working the fields of Eastern Washington and Idaho I cringe when I hear that immigrants are taking jobs away from citizens.

When I was working as 11yr old I saw no protests, I saw no human rights activists, I saw know debates and no forums. What I did see is families refusing to be fed by a system that traps the poor in welfare and social programs. My father taught one principle and it is a value to this day. If you don't work you don't eat! One issue that cannot be avoided is that millions of people are working so that millions of people can eat. Argue about the law, or argue about policy, but don't paint all Latino immigrants with one broad stroke.

For every dollar spent on social medicine how many dollars are saved from your food bill? There is a Latino work ethic that at times gets ignored. While we are working hard to find answers let's make sure we are asking the right questions. By the way, out of 11 children my parents produced: A farmer, 2 school administrators, 3 teachers, one minister, 4 medical field professionals, and some of the greatest citizens these United States have seen. I know there are many stories. Let's just remember that not all of them can be written off by referring to an entire ethnic group as illegal.

By Nick Garza

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Hispanic and The African American Connection

The Hispanic Indian & The African Slave - Two brothers, two prophets choosen for this hour:

I grew up in New York City and the only people that lived around us were either Hispanic or African American. we really didn't get to see to many Anglo people unless it was the police raiding our block; they were all white. So from a very young age I had African American friends and we considered ourselves brothers.

When I became a Christian I found a new challenge in my life; our Christian churches were segregated according to their races and there was no room for those "other kind of folk." So my Christian walk was influenced by my culture and my people- everything was viewed for a Hispanic perspective.

We sang only our kind of songs with our Latin beat to it (which by the way is pretty good) . Our preaching was laced with Spanish fraces and in a basic sence we stay within our own. When we would come out of church on any given Sunday we would look across the street to that other church, which was black, and wondered if they were Christians like us. I mean I could hear they singing and praising. But if they were brothers in Christ; How come we never get together? I imagine that they were thinking the same thing about us.
Dr. Angel L. Nunez
Senior Vice-president NHCLC

More next week

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ending Chain Migration


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 2007

Ending Chain Migration
Bipartisan Immigration Bill Reforms System To Focus Family Migration On Nuclear Family And Parents

Three Key Points On The Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill's Plan To End Chain Migration

1. The Bipartisan Immigration Bill Reforms The Immigration System To Better Balance The Importance Of Family Connections With U.S. Economic Needs.
2. The Bill Will End Chain Migration, Which Allows Legal Immigrants To Bring Extended Family Members To The U.S., And Focus Future Family Immigration On The Nuclear Family And Parents. There will still be more family-based than merit-based visas, and the existing decades-long backlog of family-based applications will be eliminated within eight years.
3. Green Cards For Extended Family Will Be Rebalanced To The New Merit-Based System To Select Future Immigrants Based On The Skills And Attributes They Will Bring To The United States.

The Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill Will Focus Future Family Migration On The Nuclear Family And Parents

In Place Of The Current System Where Nearly Two-Thirds Of Green Cards Are Awarded To Relatives Of U.S. Citizens, The Bill Reforms Our Immigration System To Better Balance The Importance Of Family Connections With The Economic Needs Of Our Country.
· Green cards for parents of U.S. citizens are capped, while set-asides for the siblings of U.S. citizens and the adult children of U.S. citizens and green card holders are eliminated.
· A new Parents Visitor visa is created to ensure that parents are allowed to visit their adult citizen children in the United States regularly and for extended periods of time.
· The Diversity Lottery Program, which is susceptible to fraud and grants green cards through random chance, is ended.

The Bill Will Clear The Current Decades-Long Backlog Of Family-Based Applications Within Eight Years And Continue To Uphold The Importance Of Family Connections. During this time, the majority of green cards issued will go to family members. Even after family backlogs are cleared and the rebalancing of visas is complete, there will be more family-based green cards issued than merit-based green cards.

After The Backlogs Are Cleared, Rebalanced Green Cards Will Be Applied To The New Merit-Based System For Immigration. Once the backlogs of employment-based and family-based applications are cleared, there will be 380,000 green cards available under the merit-based system – up from 140,000 employment-based green cards today.

Family Members Of Z Visa Holders And Temporary Workers Will Not Receive Preference For Green Cards

Z Visa Workers May Not Petition To Bring Family Members To The U.S. Family members of Z visa workers must compete for green cards under the merit-based system, which awards points for attributes that further our national interest, including: skills and work experience, with added points for U.S. employment in a specialty or high-demand field; education, with added points for training in science, math, and technology; employer endorsement; ability to speak English; and family ties to the U.S.

Temporary Workers In The "Y" Program Face Strict Restrictions On Bringing Immediate Family Members To The U.S. The new "Y" temporary workers are eligible only for three, two-year terms in the U.S. and must spend at least a year outside the country between each term. To prevent Y's from setting down permanent roots in the U.S., the bill provides that these workers may be accompanied by their families during only one of these terms – and then only if they have the financial means to support them and if their family members will have health insurance. In addition, any Y who brings his or her family will be entitled to only two terms rather than the standard three. Finally, the bill caps the overall number of family members that Y visa workers may bring into the U.S.

The White House and Immigration


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 1, 2007


Room 350
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1:26 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. First, I thank you very much for your hard work on a comprehensive immigration bill and your concern about our country. And the two go hand-in-hand. I believe that now is the time to address the issue of immigration. I think it's in our national security interests, and I think it's in the interest of making sure America never loses sight of who we are.

This is a difficult issue for a lot of folks. I understand that. But because it's difficult probably means we need to work doubly hard to get it done. And now is the time to get it done. No matter how difficult it may seem for some politically, I strongly believe it's in this nation's interest for people here in Washington to show courage and resolve and pass a comprehensive immigration reform.

My administration is deeply involved in this issue. I feel passionate about the issue. I believe it's in this country's interest to solve the problem. I believe it's in our interest when we find a system that is broken to fix it, and the immigration system today is broken. And I've asked Michael and Carlos Gutierrez to work the issue on the Hill, and these men are doing good work. They understand the issue, they understand the bill, and they understand they need to work with the Republicans and Democrats to get the job done.

I say the system isn't working because there's a lot of Americans who say that the government is not enforcing our border. I say the system is broken because there are people coming into America to do work that Americans are not doing, and there are good, decent employers who unknowingly are hiring them, which is against the law.

The system is broken, in my judgment, because there are 11 million to 12 million people living in the shadows of a free society. The system is broken because there are people who are exploiting human beings for material gain. There are coyotes-- those are human smugglers -- charging decent people large sums of money to come and work to put food on the table for their families.

There's a document forgery industry in place, because the system is broken, providing people with false documentation so they can do work that Americans are not doing in order to provide for their families. There are so-called innkeepers providing substandard hovels for people who are smuggled into our country. In other words, we have got a system that is causing people -- good, decent people -- to be exploited. And therefore, now is the time to get it fixed.

For those concerned about border security, this bill focuses on border security. For those concerned about making sure that we have workers available to do jobs -- decent jobs to make sure our economy continues to grow, this bill addresses that issue. For those concerned that we must enable 11 million to 12 million people to come out of the shadows of our society, this bill addresses that. To those concerned about whether or not America will still have the capacity to assimilate the newly arrived, it addresses that issue, too.

This is a good piece of legislation. I'm sure some of you in the audience here will say, well, it's not perfect, there are some aspects of the bill that I would like to see changed. On a piece of legislation this complicated, the question people have to answer is, are we going to sacrifice the good for the sake of the perfect? And my call to you is, is that we need to work on a comprehensive bill together. First of all, I know you're already doing that, so I'm really here to thank you.

I want to address a couple of the key issues that people are addressing. If you want to kill a bill, then you just go around America saying, this is amnesty. In other words, there are some words that illicit strong reactions from our fellow citizens. Amnesty is when a person breaks the law and is completely forgiven for having done so. This bill isn't amnesty. For those who call it amnesty, they're just trying to, in my judgment, frighten people about the bill.

This bill is one that says, we recognize that you're here illegally and there's a consequence for it. We can argue about the consequences, but you can't argue about the fact that there are consequences in this bill for people who have broken our law.

People say, well, the bill is really -- is not going to do much to enforce the border. Well, the truth of the matter is, certain aspects of the law don't come into be until certain border measures are taken. But I would remind people that you cannot fully enforce the border so long as people are trying to sneak in this country to do jobs Americans aren't doing. You can try, but doesn't it make sense to help the Border Patrol do their job, by saying, if you're going to come and do a job, there is a legal way to do it, so you don't have to sneak across in the first place? If you're interested in border security, you've got to recognize that giving people a chance to come and work here on a temporary basis makes it more likely the border will be enforced.

There are some who -- I don't know if they say this explicitly, but they certainly allege or hint that probably the best way to deal with 11 million to 12 million people is to get them to leave the country. That's impossible. That's the kind of statement that sometimes happens in the political process aimed to inflame passion, but it's completely unrealistic. It's not going to happen. And therefore, the fundamental question for those who disagree -- and there's some good folks who disagree on both political parties, I might add -- is, what's the solution?

This bill is not amnesty, but it recognizes that it is impossible for this country to rout people out of our society and "send them home." It's just not going to happen. And so good people have come together and derived a solution based upon compromises that addresses this problem in a humane way.

I recently gave a speech at the Coast Guard Academy, and I was preceded by a young man, a Latino, who stood up as the head of his class, addressing his classmates and their families and the President of the United States. And he talked about his migrant grandfather, how proud the migrant grandfather would be. It struck me again what a remarkable country it is where a person with a dream for his immediate family and future family could come to this country, work hard, make sacrifices, and have his grandson address the President and his class.

This has been the American story for decades and decades -- waves of people looking for a better life, seeking something better for themselves and their families, willing to sacrifice and work hard. And we've got to understand -- and great successes have resulted from that spirit. And this country must never lose sight that what has made us unique and, in my judgment, great is that we welcome people like that in a legal way; that throughout our history there have been the stories of people who have enriched our soul and lifted our spirit by coming to America.

One of the great things about our country is we've had the capacity to welcome people throughout our history. And we've become all Americans. We've got different backgrounds, different heritages, our forefathers may have spoken different languages, but we're all American. We've been able to assimilate under the laws and traditions of our country. And as a result, we're a stronger nation for it.

America must not fear diversity. We ought to welcome diversity. We ought to have confidence in what we have done in the past, and not lose confidence about what we will do in the future.

And so I want to thank you all for joining on a really important piece of legislation. It's the right thing to do. It's the right approach to take. It is right to address a problem. It is right to work with people in both political parties. It is right to argue for what you believe, and recognize that compromise might be necessary to move the bill along. And it is right to take political risk for members of the United States Congress.

I say -- I don't think this is risky, frankly. I don't view this as risk reward. I, frankly, view it as doing what you ought to do. See, people ought to be running for office to do what's right for the United States of America. That's what I believe people run for office for. And so I want you to know that you've got an administration that looks forward to working with people. I will do my best to make sure that this debate does not denigrate into name-calling and finger-pointing. And we'll spend energy and time and effort to help you advance a really important piece of legislation for the good of this country.

I've come by to say thanks. Chertoff and Gutierrez can tell you how the bill has gotten this far and what we see in the future. But I'm looking forward to signing a bill, and I think we will. I truly believe that when people with goodwill and good heart, and focus on helping this country come together, that we can get a good piece of legislation out. And I'm looking forward to signing it. I hope you'll be there when I do.

God bless. Thank you. (Applause.)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Revival or Reformation

Revival or Reformation
How the Ethnic Church leads the latter and rejects the former

To say that the Latino Pentecostal community is impacting America would be an understatement. The ethnic church, particularly the Hispanic segment, leads a reformation that at the end of the day will provoke Catholics to be more Charismatic, Evangelicals to embrace diverse worship, and main-line denominations to return to biblical orthodoxy. Latinos exhibit little interest in capturing a former Glory and reviving old models, patterns, and narratives that died or faded. Rather, the Hispanic Church seeks to present a distinctive brand of Christianity, a 21st century reformation.

Worship Reformation with Sabor
Rev. Saturnino Gonzalez pastors a Hispanic Mega Church in Orlando, Florida. The 4,000 member congregation exhibits the very DNA of a church committed to reforming the collective body. “I do not lose my culture when I come to Christ, I incorporate it”, stated Gonzalez. Accordingly, Pastor Nino, as his congregants call him, believes that Worship is the key to ministering and attracting Hispanics and that the Latino community is transforming how America worships. “We are adding sabor or flavor to the songs we sing and how we praise”, explained Gonzalez. The Recent Pew Research validates that very point. According to the research Religious expressions associated with the Pentecostal and charismatic movements are a key attribute of worship for Hispanics in all the major religious traditions -- far more so than among non-Latinos. Moreover, the growth of the Hispanic population is leading to the emergence of Latino-oriented churches across the country.

Catholic Reformation with Tongues
When Martin Luther posted his grievances on the doors in Wittenberg, the Protestant Reformation began. Today, Latinos lead a new reformation but not by opposing the Catholic church but by injecting it with a Charismatic/Pentecostal Thread. Above all, the most striking fact is that there are more Latino Catholics who speak in other tongues or identify themselves with a Pentecostal/Charismatic experience than non Catholics. Pew surveyed over 4,000 Latinos and discovered that Renewalist Christianity, which places special emphasis on God's ongoing, day-to-day intervention in human affairs through the person of the Holy Spirit, is having a major impact on Hispanic Christianity. Among Latino Protestants, renewalism is more than twice as prevalent as among their non-Latino counterparts. A majority (54%) of Hispanic Catholics describe themselves as charismatic Christians, making them more than four times as likely as non-Latino Catholics to identify with renewalist Christianity. The implications of this are particularly important for the Catholic Church, given that the rapidly growing Latino flock is practicing a distinctive form of Catholicism. Recently, Pope Benedict addressed the Brazilian faithful and identified Evangelicalism as the greatest threat to Catholicism. How does this change the way Evangelicals perceive Catholics? “As a Latino Pentecostal, I grew up believing that Catholics were doomed to hell because of the idolatry and prayers to Mary. Today, I understand that the majority of those same Latino Catholics pray in tongues like I do, worship with the same enthusiasm and desire the same personal distinctive relationship with Christ we all long for”, explained Rev. Israel Bermudez, Associate Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of God in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. According to Bermudez, this phenomenon facilitates the bridging of the gap between Catholics and Evangelicals. Catholics no longer represent the anathema to evangelicalism. In the Latino Community, Evangelicals and Catholics are Charismatic brothers.

Biblical Reformation with Orthodoxy
As Latinos become card carrying members of congregations, one distinctive contextualizes the impetus and bases for the faith experience; biblical orthodoxy. “Hispanic Christians believe that the word of God is the final authority. Any deviation is deemed as heretical and unacceptable”, stated Dr. Angel Nunez, Senior Pastor of a Multi-cultural congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. Nunez added that while the Anglo church debates whether miracles, healings and Pentecostal experiences exists today, the Latino church sees these arguments as futile because they exists in the daily narrative of Hispanic believer. “We do not need someone to water down the Gospel for us. We don’t need the Gospel to be presented as for the spiritually impaired, we need rhema word that will reveal biblical truths and transformative principles”, added Nunez.

In conclusion, Revivals demand the resurrection of dead and forsaken models, patterns and experiences. Reformations demand a declaration, an abrupt and confrontational demand against the status quo. Today, across America, the ethnic church approaches the Wittenberg doors of America’s religious institutions and posts the demands for Worship that will lift the soul, experiences that will empower The Spirit and a biblical journey that will catapult a life. While the non ethnic church seeks to revive the old, the ethnic church arises and declares “Behold, I do a New Thing.. Saith The Lord.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is the President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, The Hispanic NAE, serving 15 million Latino Born Again Christians and 18,000 Churches by providing Leadership, Fellowship, Networking, Partnerships and Public Policy Advocacy.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Latino Evangelicals 2.0

Latino Trends: Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0
Is the Latino Church Purpose Driven and Seeker Friendly? Can Latino Evangelicals reconcile their zeal for Holiness a long with a Grace Filled restorative Gospel? More important, what is the missional Latino Church and what lessons can the entire church derive from her?
Emerging out of the plethora of streams currently inundating the Kingdom is the transformational narrative of a church that just recently experienced its Protestant Reformation. The Hispanic missional movement is defined in the heel of the first Protestant reformation in the Hispanic Church. The Roman Catholic Church prevented for centuries any significant penetration of the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in the 1500's. Thus, the first serious Protestant impact in Latino America came via the Evangelical wing of the Church particularly the Pentecostal movement. Understanding this will enable the church at large to value, collaborate and strengthen the threads of what is the fastest growing segment of the American church, Latino Evangelicals.
The trends in the Hispanic church will reverberate within the walls of the entire Church, according to Pastor David Sandoval of Dallas, Texas. "Hispanic Evangelicals 1.0 or the first century of Latino Evangelicalism was focused on personal piety and experiential Christianity. Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 will continue to do such however it will expand it's reach to include corporate piety and holiness a long side relational Christianity. For example, not just are we going to be preoccupied with personal holiness but we are going to address issues we neglected", stated Sandoval. In addition, Sandoval added "We focused for too long on the length of a dress, jewelry, hair styles and physical appearance, while our teens were getting pregnant, dropping out of school and totally disconnected to the church. We have, for the most part, emerged out of legalism, yet we are beginning to tackle the true bondages in our community such as sexual immorality, poverty, domestic violence, drug abuse, witchcraft, strife and lukewarmness".
Hispanic Evangelicals 1.0 focused on Latinos and Latin America. Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 for the first time are looking beyond the culture and addressing the spiritual and social needs of other cultures and around the world. "Globalization has hit the Hispanic Evangelical Church. Over 99% of our outreach and 99% of our giving in the 20th century went to other Latinos. In 2001, for the first time, over 50% of all missions giving from Hispanic Churches went to such places as Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East", stated Dr. David Espinoza, Former World Missions Board member of the Assemblies of God and current Trustee of Global University. Pastor Espinoza also added that Hispanic are deliberately focusing on such places as India, Africa and The Middle East due to the fact the Latinos are embraced with a lot less trepidation than North American Anglos because of the current political environment. "Latino Missionaries are impacting nations where Anglo Americans can't reach due to media and historical stereotypes. When they us coming, there is no sense of imperialism, colonialism or a hidden agenda. What they see is a brother who was once bound but now is free. Although the stereotypes regarding Anglo Americans is incorrect, we believe the Latino Church can reconcile perception with reality and bring about the day when those stereotypes are shattered", stated Espinoza.
How will the Hispanic Evangelical missional thread impact the rest of the church? One needs to ask Dr. Albert Reyes, one of the most prominent Latino Evangelical leaders in the World. "Hispanics in America will continue to shape and influence our nation as population demographics emerge. When we think about the influence of Hispanic evangelicals on the evangelical church we will see several trends begin to surface over the next 20 to 30 years. We will begin to sense a paradigm shift for what it means to be an evangelical in America through cultural, social, ecclesiastical, and political venues. Hispanics will bring their cultural values to bear on evangelical Christianity with an influence of a collective worldview. That is, Latino/Hispanic evangelical Christians will be more interested in the welfare of the community at large than their own personal welfare. The locus of control for Hispanic life is in the community and how well the community is doing seems to matter greatly to Latinos/Latinas. Hispanics will help evangelical congregations gravitate toward a balanced application of the gospel to include issues of social justice and equality for everyone in the community. Social issues will take center stage in congregations because the scripture bears witness to Jesus' focus on the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed .Those in need are our primos y primas, tios y tias, hermanos y hermanas as well as our neighbors. In addition, Reyes added that Hispanic evangelical Christianity will change the texture of our congregations as they begin to reflect the Hispanic culture and community. "Worship, discipleship, missions, evangelism, church planting, etc. will have a nuanced Hispanic flavor in its implementation. Hispanics will take a more active role in the political landscape of our day while respecting the long held value of separation of church and state. Hispanic evangelicals will find their voice and speak their convictions from a biblical/theological perspective and a Judeo-Christian worldview that is distinctly shaped by Hispanic culture." Finally, Reyes concluded by prophetically declaring " As the decibel level of the Hispanic evangelical voice increases the message will become convincingly clear along the lines social justice, incarnational approaches to mission, contextually accurate congregational life, and political involvement".
At the end of the day, the Latino church may very well be the embodiment of a church that is both purpose and presence driven, seeker and spirit driven, prophetic and missional, and above all things; RELEVANT.

Latina Evangelical Leaders and The Death of Machismo

The current immigration debate succeeded in removing the grave clothes from one of America's best-kept secrets, the Hispanic evangelical church. According to one of the top Hispanic evangelical scholars, Dr. Gaston Espinosa, 37 percent of the U.S. Latino population (14.2 million) self-identifies as "born-again" or evangelical. This figure includes Catholic charismatic's, who constitute 22 percent of U.S. Latino Catholics.
The Latino church is the fastest growing segment of the United States church. If the current migratory and birth rate trends stay constant, by the middle of this century, the majority of born again Christians in America will be of Hispanic descent.
As a result, it is of the utmost importance for the entire church to understand the Hispanic evangelical ethos and analyze the trends within such body. The emerging trends in the Hispanic Church have the potential of transforming not only the Latino community but the entire American born-again family. The three trends to consider are: the women-driven mega church movement, the Hispanic missional movement and the Latino seeker, and the rise of a global Hispanic Christian social agenda.
First, I believe the next Joel Osteens, Rick Warrens and T.D. Jakes of the church will have last names Garcia, Gonzalez, Rivera, Maldonado and Velez. The Hispanic church already has mega churches throughout the nation.
From Miami, Fla., Guillermo Maldonado pastors an 8,000-member thriving congregation. Gilbert Velez, Steve Perea, Danny DeLeon and others lead churches with thousands of adherents. Yet, what makes the Latino church unique in its mega church phenomena is that the culture universally known for its machismo is ironically producing pastors with names such as Lucy Saavedra, Maria Torres and Wanda Rolon.
In other words, the mega church phenomenon in the Latino community is being co-driven by women. Undoubtedly, the question arises, how can a culture known to restrict the role of women in the cultural context reconcile with women as the senior leaders of thriving congregations?
"Hispanic Christians value one thing over the cultural dynamics and stereotypes of the people. We value the anointing. We value the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. More important than gender is the testimony of God. Our people will follow whoever is carrying the mantle regardless of gender," stated Sergio Navarrette, superintendent of the southern Pacific Latin district of the Assemblies of God.
In the state of Nevada, one of the largest Hispanic churches is lead by Lucy Saavedra. Pastor Lucy just finished the successful purchase of a multi-million dollar complex. In a recent meeting in Las Vegas, Lucy stated that one of her goals is to see Hispanic women pastor mega churches in every major urban center in America. Accordingly, Lucy was appointed by the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals to spearhead the National Hispanic Christian Women's Task Force. "Our goal is to remove the final vestiges of bias against women leadership while simultaneously providing networking relationships and resources to equip top tier female Christian leadership", stated Rev. Saavedra in the March Board Meeting of the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals.
While many in the non-ethnic evangelical community still debate the role of women in ministry, the Latino church is leading the way in a progressive facilitation of female pastors. Hitherto, the evangelical debate continues to demonstrate a bias against the facilitation of female executive leadership, be it as Senior Pastors or supervisors in ecclesiastical oversight. However, the Latino born again Christian narrative is beginning to include the matriarchal elements embedded in the cultural context of the Diaspora.
"From the onset of the Hispanic Evangelical church women were never viewed in a secondary role but rather as significant foundational pillars of the early church. From Aimee McPherson, Sunshine Ball and Dolores Espinoza, early leaders of the Evangelical Church in America, particularly in the Pentecostal setting, were women who paved the way for today's Lucy Saavedra and others like her", explained Dr. David Espinoza, Senior Pastor of La Trinidad Church in San Fernando, Ca.
Hispanic women will not tolerate tokenism and limited roles within the great equalizer called the church. In the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Wanda Rolon leads a mega church in the thousands while simultaneously providing oversight to Pastors and churches in different parts of the Caribbean and the states. Undoubtedly, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have been more receptive of women in executive leadership than many of the main line or traditional evangelical denominations. This very fact could very well be a central catalyst in explaining why more Hispanics are embracing Pentecostalism and the Charismatic stream of evangelicalism than the others. Denominations, fellowships and churches that exhibit the great equilibrium of Galatians as it pertains to equality before Christ will be the magnet of Hispanic families towards their ministries. Women like Sylvia Samayoa an Investment Broker from California demonstrate the need to connect successful Hispanic women to ministries where women can develop their full potential. Hispanic women are looking for role models not only in the political and business spectrum but in the church.
"Hispanic denominations and fellowships are more open to female executive leadership than many of our non ethnic brothers and sisters," stated Felix Posos, chairman of the Latin American Theological Seminary. "I predict we will see female leadership of our denominations before others do", added Posos.
How will all this change the face of the church? At the end of day, the evangelical church in America may well see women in all roles and positions in the church including denominational leadership and the senior oracles of biblical orthodoxy and renewal thanks in good part to the Hispanic church looking beyond "machismo" and embracing biblical equality. In the 21st Century church many spiritual sons and daughters will be grateful to Hispanic Christian Women who removed the grave clothes of bias and limitation while exposing the Glory of God.
Galatians 4:31: So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. NASB

Immigration Fact Sheet

Immigration Fact Check: Responding To Key Myths

1. MYTH: The government is going to give permanent legal status to 12 million illegal aliens before securing our borders.

· FACT: Temporary worker and Z visas will not be issued until benchmarks for enforcement are met. These triggers include:
o Increasing border fencing.
o Increasing vehicle barriers at the Southern border.
o Increasing the size of the Border Patrol.
o Ground-based radar and camera towers along the Southern border.
o Resources to maintain the end of catch and release.
o DHS establishment of worksite enforcement tools, including an electronic Employment Eligibility Verification System.

· FACT: As we work to meet these triggers, we must provide a mechanism for undocumented workers with clean records and steady jobs to come out of the shadows and be accounted for in a regulated system, on a probationary basis. This will allow immigration enforcement officers to focus their resources on apprehending violent criminals and terrorists.

· FACT: To obtain probationary status, illegal immigrants must come out of the shadows to acknowledge they have broken the law and pass a preliminary background check.

· FACT: Probationary status may be revoked at any time if a worker is found ineligible for the Z visa, fails to maintain a clean record, or fails the background check required for obtaining a Z visa.

· FACT: The Administration has already seen progress in securing our borders due to increased investment and other deterrence factors – the number of apprehensions for illegally crossing the Southern border is down 27 percent from this time last year. The Administration has:
o Expanded the Border Patrol from approximately 9,000 agents in 2001 to more than 13,000 agents today.
o Built 78 miles of permanent vehicle barrier and 86 miles of primary fencing.
o Put in place four Ground Surveillance Radars and one Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), with another (UAS) coming on line in July of this year.

2. MYTH: Under the guest-worker program, guest workers will be able to bring spouses and children into the United States. Children of guest workers will be entitled to free education in public schools, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

· FACT: Temporary workers can only bring their families if they show that they have the financial means to support them and that their family members will have health care insurance while in the U.S. In addition, the number of family members that may be brought into the U.S. by temporary workers is capped.

· FACT: Temporary workers are required to pay taxes on the income they earn while working in the U.S. They must also pay a State impact fee of $500, plus $250 for each dependent (capped at $1,500 per family), to cover costs of public services used.

· FACT: Temporary workers are not entitled to welfare, Food Stamps, SSI, non-emergency Medicaid, or other programs and privileges enjoyed by U.S. citizens and some Lawful Permanent Residents.

3. MYTH: This bill, through mandates with the Employment Eligibility Verification System, gives the federal government the authority to force national ID cards on all American citizens.

· FACT: There is no provision in the bill that requires the creation of a national ID card. The Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) requires workers to present a limited range of highly secure government-issued or government-authorized IDs. These include:
o U.S. Passport (for U.S. citizens only).
o Document issued by DHS or the State Department containing photo, biometrics, other such personal identifying info needed to ensure identity (for non-citizens).
o State-issued, REAL ID compliant license presented along with a Social Security card, or for a limited period before implementation of REAL ID, a State-issued license with a photograph that can be verified by DHS, presented along with a birth certificate and Social Security card.

4. MYTH: The bill allows dangerous gang members access to the Z visa program if they renounce their gang affiliation.

· FACT: Any gang member convicted of any of a wide range of criminal conduct is not permitted in the Z visa program, whether he or she has renounced his gang affiliation or not. The range of crimes that disqualify applicants from the Z visa program extends into the thousands and includes:
o Any felony
o Any three or more misdemeanors
o Any serious criminal offense
o Crimes involving moral turpitude (with narrow exceptions for certain misdemeanors such as those committed before age 18)
o Violations of a law relating to a controlled substance

· FACT: Even if a gang member or other applicant has not been convicted of a crime, he or she is ineligible for the Z visa program if the Government concludes that he is sufficiently dangerous. This is true for all applicants, including gang members who have renounced their affiliations. For example, among those ineligible is any gang member (or other applicant):
o About whom there are "reasonable grounds" for regarding as a danger to the security of the United States;
o Who the Government knows or has reason to believe seeks to enter the U.S. "solely, principally, or incidentally" to engage in unlawful activity; or
o About whom there are reasonable grounds for believing has committed a serious criminal offense outside the U.S.

· FACT: The bill would, for the first time, give the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) tools to keep certain aliens out of the United States solely on the basis of their participation in a gang. No conviction is required – if an individual has associated with a gang and helped "aid" or "support" its illegal activity, then he or she is not allowed to remain in the country – even if he renounces his gang affiliation.

5. MYTH: The bill contains a new category of visas for family members that includes a waiver for "family members in hardship cases," which will exponentially increase extended-family chain migration.

· FACT: The bill would end chain migration – preferences for siblings and adult children would be eliminated. In addition, visas for parents of U.S. citizens would be capped.

· FACT: After the family backlog is cleared in the first eight years after enactment, the bill will eliminate about 190,000 extended family visas per year. By contrast, the category of "extreme hardship" cases is capped at 5,000 visas per year.

· FACT: The number of family members that could qualify for the waiver is exceedingly small – such individuals could migrate only if they would otherwise experience "extreme hardship" that cannot be relieved by temporary visits. For example, the category might extend to families that have a member with a disability.

6. MYTH: Illegal workers who remained in the country after they were ordered deported by an immigration judge are eligible for Z visas.

· FACT: Illegal workers who ignored deportation orders are not eligible for the Z visa program, except in exceedingly rare cases in which they can demonstrate their departure would "result in extreme hardship."

· FACT: The determination of what constitutes "extreme hardship" lies entirely within the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, who has no interest in allowing this exception to be abused.

Who is My Neighbor?

Latino Trends: The 21st Century Good Samaritans
Who is my neighbor? This query introduced in the Parable of The Good Samaritan exemplifies the very debate in the heart of the Ethnic Church and the primary challenge to the Evangelical body at large. As we continue to thread the Hispanic American Evangelical Narrative, we find ourselves negotiating a historical juxtaposition between the preservation of our cultures and the building of His Kingdom. After 100 years of exponential growth in the Latino Church, Hispanic Pastors and leaders find ourselves struggling to define a new missiological baseline. Here is the primary question in the Latino Church, do we exist to preserve an ethnocentric ideology or do we focus on intentional building of the Big K which is the Kingdom of God? Hence, the Latino Church is strategically and prophetically situated to provide leadership to the collective Evangelical church in America by both incorporating the tenants of the Good Samaritan Parable and nullifying the MYSPACE.COM version of Christianity.
The Latino, African- American, Anglo and other ethnic segments of the church must go beyond the myspace.com mindset. Pastor Nick Garza, an Assemblies of God Pastor in Sacramento, Ca. sees the functional structure of this web site as the anti-thesis to successful biblical outreach. "MySpace.com is a world wide internet phenomenon because it enables the subscriber to determine who has access to his/her profile, pictures, stories and information. In other words, unless you have been given access, you can't come in. Only my friends, who share my interests are granted access. All granted of course if you initially become a Friend of Tom (Tom being one of the co-founders of this virtual social networking site). Accordingly, the Church has operated under a Myspace.com model. As long as Christ is our default friend, we are somehow allowed to build our own space with limited access to include only those who we know or permit.
Moreover, Garza added "Although I believe a need exists for ethnic churches to serve the various constituencies in our communities, we must never see the preservation of the ethnicity, language or culture as the primary purpose of the local congregation. We must be readily accessible to all our neighbors. Recently, I heard a Hispanic denominational leader warn Pastors and leaders to be careful in starting English speaking services because it may result in the loss of our heritage and culture. This sort of statement exemplifies the limited thinking that hinders cross threading of the collective narrative and fosters an atmosphere of segregation and competitiveness."
According to Dr. Albert Reyes, National Hispanic Baptist Leader, the Latino Church personifies the 21st century Good Samaritan. "Samaritans were a mixed breed. Just as Latinos are mixes of European, Indian and Afro American cultures. Samaritans were rejected because of their make up. We see our diversity as strength. We can reach out to Anglo, Asian, Black, and other ethnicities because racially and culturally, our fabric reflects the various threads. Latino Evangelicals have a prophetic calling to build bridges between the various communities and facilitate a fruitful ministry of reconciliation."
The Good Samaritan parable not only challenges leaders to ask "Who is my neighbor?", but embedded in the parable is the question" How much am I willing to invest"? The Good Samaritan provided his oil, wine, donkey, silver and even a commitment for future expenses to be reimbursed. "As a Latina Pastor, I got tired of limiting my ministry to one class, group or segment of our community. The current trend in the Latino church is to provide ministry, services and even starting satellite churches where there are no or very few Latinos. We want to reach out to all. Our desire to reach out must be accompanied by the allocation of all resources including financial, time and manpower", stated Rev. Reina Olmeda, Senior Pastor of Third Day Worship Center in Allentown, Pa. Olmeda added that the Church has a biblical mandate to walk the path of transformational ministry and identify the needs regardless of the size. "It is important to note that the Samaritans were rejected because of their ethnic makeup. What made the Samaritan Good was not what he had or who he was but rather how he responded to the needs of others. Today, we have great facilities, strategic programs and various resources, now it's time to pour it out and bandage the wounds of our neighbors.
Historically, in response to the original question, "Who is my neighbor", the Latino church responded by identifying those in the Latino community. That erroneous response limited the outreach and created walls of segregation between the Hispanic Church and others. Today, we must ask this question by bringing clarity to its original intent. "Who is my neighbor?" in essence asks, who is my brother, sister, customer, market, potential partner, collaborator, target, and mission? In reality, this question reverberates on a constant base within the confines of our Christian walk and really asks, who do I want to heal, restore, love and embrace? Before, the Latino Evangelical Church, particularly the Latino Pentecostal church, focused exclusively on personal piety, Holiness and Escapism. For the first time, the Latino Church is providing a viable response to the question raised in Luke Chapter 10. Who is neighbor? My neighbor is the poor and the rich, the black and the white, the urban and suburban, the city and the rural. Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is the children of Darfur and those suffering with Aids in Africa. Who is my neighbor? My neighbors are the victims of Katrina and the Sunnis and Shiites of the Middle East.
Our response as Christian leaders to this query speaks more about who we are than who will reach out to. In essence, "who is my neighbor?" is actually questioning, not who are those around me, but rather who am I in the midst of a lost and dying world.