Bio: Youth pastor and organizer with Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona
1. How have you seen Arizona's new state immigration law (SB1070) affect families?
The courts ruled most of SB1070 to be -- at least temporarily -- unconstitutional. Still, parts of the law that were not struck down would effectively criminalize our mission in the distressed communities of Phoenix, where we have been working for nearly three decades. Taking kids to the swimming pool during our vacation Bible school program or people to Bible studies at Hope House, a discipleship home for young women and moms, turns into transporting, harboring, or even smuggling unauthorized aliens.
SB1070 will not keep us from living out the gospel that compels us deeper into the life of our neighborhood. Risking jail for the sake of the gospel is an easy decision for those serving at Neighborhood Ministries. We refuse to ask people for their documents to come hear about Jesus.
Sadly, families are already going to jail. A friend was arrested at work by the local sheriff, who is currently doing much of what we are concerned about in SB1070. I talked with my friend on the phone as the deputies raided his workplace; hearing the fear in this proud man’s voice forever changed me. His four kids and wife were left behind, with their future uncertain. Their family has lived in Phoenix nearly 10 years, working hard, paying taxes, participating in our community and church life.
2. How has Neighborhood Ministries been affected by the fire that destroyed your thrift store warehouse in June?