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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama:

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

As you prepare to take the reins of our government and move forward with an aggressive economic stimulus package to help restore confidence and hope in our economy, we stand prepared to pray with you and assist you in whatever request you may have of us.

As ministers of the Gospel, we can sense the uncertainty that many Americans are feeling today. There is a sense of confusion, hopelessness, and despair, and thoughts of frightening consequences as we ponder our country’s future.

Hundred of thousands have lost their homes because of bank foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs as corporations try to retool and restructure their businesses. Thousands of small businesses are closing down because of the lack of business, and this is creating another economic emergency in many small towns that depend on these businesses for goods and services....and jobs.

The jobs which may be available, offer little incentive for a worker used to making a decent living by earning a fair wage and benefits. Instead today, we see an economy that is struggling to avoid the worse recession since 1987.

Our economy was moving forward creating new and better jobs as technology opened new doors of advancement. It appeared as if our economy was set to continue to grow in this period of posterity and good and plentiful jobs.

Slowly we have seen what the greed and criminal element within the ranks of high level bankers, investors, and corporate giant business managers have done to create a world wide economic crisis. Because of their criminal behavior, millions of people today are suffering the ramifications of no oversight on these businesses.

Respected business leaders left to their own oversight created a greedy and criminal enterprise that has robbed billions of dollars from so many hard working people who placed their hard earned investments and trust in these businesses.

We now know what it feels like to be destitute, hopeless, and frightened.

Mr. President-elect, we are learning a difficult lesson that thousands of undocumented immigrants in our country have already learned. While we had a strong economy, we didn’t care much about administrative violations by undocumented immigrants. We needed these workers because many were strong, loyal, and hard working individuals. Many of these workers even began to believe in the American Dream as their own dream.

Many immigrants are facing the same fate as average good American workers. They too are losing their homes or small businesses because the job market essentially is drying up. Millions of Americans are without jobs and have little or no expectation of finding a decent job in the near future.

The only difference in this economic mess is that undocumented workers who are part of our economy have little or not recourse to pursue a better future. In spite of the fact that many neo conservatives claim undocumented workers have little or no impact on our economy. Undocumented immigrants play a key role in providing good workers during a time when competition for workers is necessary.

However, the fear of Homeland Security's anti-undocumented immigrant policies and ICE have always lurked in the minds of so many of these workers. The fear of going to church on Sunday morning, or going to work on Monday because ICE agents might raid the places they assemble.

Families ripped apart, children left without parents, wives and husbands sucked into a detention system leaving families without bread winners. Families which only sought to work hard and contribute to our way of life, have been nabbed and sent to detention centers for administrative violations of the law, with no expectation of having a fair hearing or contacting a lawyer or agency to help them.

In this dire economy, the only business which seems to be a growing enterprise is the building of detention centers for undocumented immigrants. We continue to build these detention centers by criminalizing families for living and working in our country. Many of these people have not committed a single crime, and yet are now being labeled as criminals by our own government.

Homeland Security officials have created a new class of criminals by creating policies that our elected leaders have been unwilling to challenge or change. Not wanting to be labeled as soft on terrorism, Homeland Security has successfully inserted all undocumented immigrants as a threat to our country and the need to detain them or deport them without fair hearings.

Mr. President-elect, as you face the many issues that need your immediate attention, we ask that you not forget the “the stranger in our midst.” We call upon your Christian ethic and compassion to stop the raids, stop building the wall between Mexico and our country, and stop this insane business of building detention centers that have become home for so many hard working families.

While the future looks bleak and our economy still faces numerous challenges, we will ride out this perfect economic storm and our prayer is that once again we can return to the days in which good jobs and wages will be available. That is our hope for the future, but along with that hope, we ask that you put an end to the strong arm tactics of ICE and stop putting innocent people in jails. Please stop the raids the day you take office.

Our hope is that you can guide and navigate our country through the difficult days ahead. As ministers, we pledge to offer you guidance and a shield of prayer for you and your Cabinet. Our pledge is that we will continue to perform our Godly task as the spiritual consciousness of our country and uphold our leaders in daily prayers.

And by the way, if you need a Latino Pentecostal preacher to pray sometime, I still have bus tire tracks on my back.

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Monday, December 8, 2008

Economic Free Fall

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

While we wait for the changes that the Obama Administration has promised to put in place to address the many issues and crisis we face, it is a good time for the Church to evaluate its mission and leadership role in a time of confusion, fear, and chaos.

The economic free fall of our financial infrastructure has created a worldwide spectacle as we watch the collapse of banks and financial institutions in which we had placed so much confidence.

Instead, we watch as multimillion dollar companies come begging to the Congress for a $34 Billion dollar bailout. The Big Three automobile companies in Detroit are afraid they will soon run out of money and force the companies into bankruptcy.

If these three mega industry giants were to go bankrupt, the domino effect on other companies that build parts and supplies for the auto industry would also end up throwing thousands of workers out of work.

There is a sense of fear and trepidation in the land that has not been felt since the Depression. There is a sense of hopelessness and confusion as government and business leaders look for multi billion-dollar solutions in hopes that more paper money will seal the financial leak.

While President-elect Obama is putting together his team and Cabinet Secretaries, business conditions continue to deteriorate as we enter a period of presidential transition.

It is as if no one knows who really is in charge. While the Inauguration date is still a month away, the problems and issues demanding immediate action cannot or will not wait.

While President Bush has essentially apologized for the recession, the lame duck Presidency is in no condition to set an agenda for recovery. President Bush and his budget people just recently determined that the country has been in a recession since December 2007. In case you have lost track of time, it is December 2008.

What are the steps we must take to create a sense of calm and hope? Is there really a solution to the financial free fall that we are experiencing not only in the USA, but now spread throughout the world. Globalization has brought not only the convenience of inexpensive goods and services; it also has tied our economies together. What now affects one major world power, affects the entire world’s financial checkbook.

The fear and the sense of not knowing what is next are troubling enough. For example, on our block, we have witnessed the terrible and sad foreclosure where our neighbors furniture and belongs are simply dumped on the street by the Sheriff department. Here was a neighbor who lived for years in our area, and all we could do was watch the doors to his home bolted shut, leaving him and his family - homeless.

On our block alone, three homes have been foreclosed on. Three neighbors who have lost their life savings and the hope of having a place to call home.

If you think that fear, does not creep up and cause one to wonder how can this be happening? Who might be next if the government cannot get a handle on the number of bad loans made by greedy mortgage companies?

It is frightening to watch the international financial collapse affect the home of neighbors who lost jobs or live savings with the collapse of Wall Street.

Is there hope for future? And how do we help create a sense of things being under control? What is the role of the Church as more and more people lose jobs and their livelihood?

Each financial quarter we have seen the unemployment figures inch slowing up showing more people losing their jobs. Even President-elect Obama has said that the financial picture will get worse before it gets better. That alone is frightening to hear as so many Americans have placed their future in the articulate and savy orator of the new President who talks about change and hope for the future.

Will his words be enough to settle the nerves of so many people who face tomorrow with fear and hopelessness?

We are living in a time of confusion, fear, chaos, and with no sense of how to fix the problem.

Fear is in the air and like sharks who can smell the blood of victims in the water, fear is building on itself.

What can we do as a people committed to serving our Lord and Savior? Is this part of the judgment on our land for the sin and careless living we have indulged in? Is this part of the price we must pay for forgetting to serve our God? Is the condemnation on our land for failing to serve the Lord our God without compromising our values and beliefs?

Some preachers will tell you yes, others are not so sure. It is very easy to place the blame on our sinful nature and for making easy living and pleasures of the world our God.

I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that whenever God’s people encountered a crisis, asking God to forgive their sins, and looking for Him to lead them out danger is still a viable guide for the Church today.

Can we lead the way by starting with ourselves and asking God to set us free from our sin and our lack of attention to His Word? The time for the Church to take a stand is now.

Can we, the Church be strong enough to stand and say to all that will listen, repeat and seek the ways of the Lord. Find peace and joy in the Lord. Look away from the sin and look with hope to the future by the Words spoken thousands of years ago.

God’s Word will set us free from fear and give us the capacity to lead our nation from the brink of financial doom.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212