Parable of and Immigrant, Part 2


Parable of an Immigrant Part 2

You can listen to the audio HERE

In our previous post, Johnny was hit by a car while jaywalking on his way to a better school and a better life, and injured severely. This is our tale of immigration and we left his mother leaving the scene having the guilt laid on her for his demise.

Simple explanation…she was the responsible party for Johnny and she broke the law.

“Illegal Immigration is…by definition…Illegal.”

Why would so many, moral and law abiding citizens of their own countries make a blatant action that puts them at risk and is clearly and obviously wrong?

One part of the puzzle, is that it comes down to law enforcement. An un-enforced law tends to loose its’ legality over time. And this lack of enforcement of the rule of law begins in their home country and pushes many…not all, but many to seek to break another law by entering the nations to the north illegally and also at great personal risk and cost, both to the immigrant and to the extended family.

And one example that I can make comes from a grandson of one of our pastors in Usulután a rural department in the east of El Salvador. Just over a year ago, I received a Facebook message from a young man in the Dallas Texas area. As is typically the case, they have a different name then what I know them by, so always check if we have friends in common, then check the pictures to see who they are. Honestly, we visit so many churches that we know hundreds of faces, but have a tough time keeping up with everyone’s names. Add to that the common practice of using one name with family and their second name with others, and apodos, or nicknames which everyone has makes it confusing, to say the least. Often to save a few cents on calls, people will have different phones from different companies, they are getting new phone numbers, new Facebook pages, etc. and it is hard to keep up with.

But this time was very different, this was a young man that I have worked with a lot, played music with him at church services, and have worked along side his father and grandfather on several occasions over the past 4 years. He had been part of the last three of our youth camps. He was part of the leadership team of the youth group at the church. I asked myself, what is he doing in Dallas?

On my next visit to Usulután I found out why. One of his friends boarded a bus and was asked by a couple of intoxicated young men for some of his belongings. For whatever reason, he had had enough, had a hard day at school, or just didn’t want to give up his cell phone again…he said no. These youth empowered by their gang affiliations and the sense of power they have when in their “territory” took care of business at the next stop of the bus. The youth’s dead body was found that day, right in front of our Pastor’s house. A couple phone calls later, in the matter of a week, our Pastor’s son-in-law, who is now a legal resident and owns a contractor business in the Dallas area came up with the majority of the 50% cost of paying a “coyote” for his safe passage. (They normally get 3 attempts to cross on this fee).

With the conditions surrounding his migration, he has a pretty good case of getting asylum status and is currently working on this process. I had a chance to connect with him last year during a Pastor’s conference and he looks good…he was a good couple inches taller than last time I saw him and the rich Texan food has done a good job of filling his figure out some more. I brought some traditional hymnals that they can’t get in the U.S. and a couple of gifts from his mom. He is studying and working on weekends with his uncle. But, the meeting was challenging, as his family doesn’t let him go out on his own. They are very weary of any interaction outside of the family until his immigration status is secure. As I spoke with him I sensed an odd mix of sadness and gratefulness. He was not comfortable living in an unsafe canton in Usulután where any day he could lose another friend, where the laws of the street take precedence over the rule of law. But neither was he comfortable living in quarantine with his extended family in a city larger than any in his home country, where effectively he was “illegal.”

In this same canton, a year earlier, we had gone to bury his grandmother who died of natural causes. The Salvadoran tradition is to walk behind the vehicle (usually a pickup in the rural areas), which has the casket. The problem being, we needed to go the 1-kilometer from this canton to the next where the cemetery is. Most made the walk, but for her half-dozen grandsons, they can’t walk into this canton, because it is of an opposing gang. (None of these youth are actually in a gang, they just live in opposing gang territory it entirely depends on where they live). We fit 17 people in our 11-passenger van, so that they would not be seen. Out of respect for their deceased grandmother, they felt obliged to be at the burial.

In the past year, we have lost 3 youth leaders from just this one church who have immigrated because of the violence.

This post will no doubt cause some uncomfortable feelings, because it goes deep into the realm of law and ethics, and that area, at least for me, where sometimes ethics and law don’t seem to agree. I too, grew up where laws were black and white…legal and illegal…right and wrong, and for the most part, I thought it worked well. I grew up where police were good and showed up when you called them, and they were “good.” In the 1980´s in California this was almost always the case. But, we don’t have to go far in history to find that this is not always the case.

And now, under the assumption that current laws are in fact “good” we are left with the other question, of un-enforced laws. An unenforced law loses a bit of its legality. Unenforced jaywalking laws encourage jaywalking. Unenforced traffic laws encourage speeding (if you don’t believe that, come spend a week in San Salvador). Loopholes in tax laws encourage accountants to save their clients money. You get the picture.

I felt it important to lay down this personal story to explain that the above-mentioned sign oversimplifies the problem. There exists a huge gray area between black and white and millions of people currently live in the gray.

This becomes a question of ethics…not just of legality. And questions of ethics are not easy questions to answer. Here are a few examples?

  • If someone broke into your house, would you take action, what if that action was illegal?
  • At what point does “temporary emergency residency” or asylum require a path to permanency, 1 year, 5 years, 20 years?
  • What types of illegal activities warrant the removal of residency status?
  • Is offering emergency asylum to a young man like our example “the right thing to do?”

Does the Bible weigh in on these areas where ethics and law are at odds? Yes it does, here are a few examples.

Proverbs 30:8 – 9

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,

lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 6:30 – 31

People do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry,
but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold;
he will give all the goods of his house.

Other verses regarding taking advantage of the under privileged.

Exodus 21:16, Exodus 22:2 – 4, Nehemiah 5:1 – 13 (Where Nehemiah confronts those who are taking economic advantage of their Jewish brothers)

The Bible speaks very extensively about taking care of foreigners or “aliens.”

Thank you for taking time to consider…and pray for this important topic.

And maybe this week you will get an opportunity to meet, encourage and maybe pray for someone who currently lives in this gray area.

Parable of an Immigrant, Part 1

(In writing this upcoming series of posts, I do not intend to give the impression of being educated on current immigration laws or topics…as a matter of fact, good friends who do this full time are having a hard time keeping current. As missionaries in Central America, one of the regions sending the largest number of youth to seek better futures across the northern border, we wanted to weigh in on the discussion and help encourage a broader picture of the situation…south of the border)

You can listen to the audio of the blog by clicking HERE


Johnny (Juanito) woke up like any other day. The sound of his mother asking, pleading and finally insisting that he get out of bed. This started early now that Johnny started attending the new school, as they didn’t have a vehicle, and the bus didn’t pass by their house, so they needed to walk. Johnny was still too young to walk with his friends to school, or so his mother said. Breakfast was basically the same every day, one egg, a spot of beans, some type of fresh fruit, either a half of an orange or an apple, and always…two tortillas.

As they walked out the door, almost as a second thought…Johnny’s mom grabbed his hat, “They will see you better.” Johnny never had been very comfortable with this school. Even after almost a year, he still seemed different, like an outsider. He was as smart, or smarter than many of the other kids, but he still struggled to keep up, to fit in at recess, to laugh at the right time with their jokes, to pay attention in class, to get the right answers on the tests…that seemed to come all to often.

He made this walk every day, and as every day, whenever he would complain, his mom assured him how much better this school was and why it was important to make the hour walk each day instead of going to the school that he used to, in their neighborhood.

The school in their neighborhood was different. Johnny’s 5 cousins went there. They would eat and laugh at the breaks, exchange sandwiches, joke about the crazy antics of their uncle and tell stories that only they knew the context of. They could leave class to supposedly go to the bathroom, and pass fifteen minutes in the halls talking until one of the teachers caught on and sternly called him back to the math, or language, or art class…whatever it happened to be. As with most memories, the sense of nostalgia made the memories much more vivid and even more exaggerated with each passing day, now that he was at “the new school.”

Johnny’s mom squeezed him tight, startling him out of this nostalgic day dream. She said the same things every day, “Mijo, you are the best gift God has given me…and I will always work hard to give you my best. Now do your very best at school today. Te amo mi Juanito.” She kissed him and sent him across the street to the school, now in plain view one block away. Johnny looked to the left and crossed to the middle divider, which separated the traffic from the other direction. There was a crosswalk at the next intersection about a half mile to the right, but most never crossed there, as it was way out of the way and the school was just to the left. Two kids had just run across and Johnny set off.

Just as he reached the safe ground of the middle divider, a five-foot wide finger of grass with concrete curbs on either side, he now turned his gaze to the right where the oncoming traffic now switched. Just then, a puff of wind caught his baseball cap and blew it into the street behind. Johnny instinctively spun to his right and took a step back.

It happened in a split second, which Johnny’s mom would relive in slow motion, over and over again. A car was already in the lane and surprisingly close to the middle divider. As Johnny spun to his right to catch the cap, the car clipped his right leg and shoulder, the impact left a sickening sound, a thump of soft clothing and a crack of his leg and arm, then an instantaneous second crack as he bounced off the windshield and over the car. The driver had tried to slow, but hadn’t had time to stop…and in a split second decision, sped up and veered two lanes to the right to disappear into the next street corner. It was a white car, a Ford, said one eyewitness later, another said it was a Mercury. The license plate, identity nor actual make and model were never discovered.

The next two hours were a blur for Johnny’s mom. Two cars in either direction stopped, helping slow the morning traffic, and in a sense creating a protective space for the motionless 12 year old on the street, and create enough space for her to safely cross into the median. She collapsed over him sobbing, crying “Mijo, mijo, no mueras!!!” Within two minutes a state trooper had arrived, officially taking control of the situation from the hysterical mother and the dazed onlookers now gathering on both sides of the street. He called in the situation on his radio, requesting an ambulance immediately, tagging on his cocksure assessment of the situation, not caring who overheard, “Nother one of those ignorant jaywalking hooligans…if I said it once, I said it a thosan times…gotta put that gosh darn fence up all along this blasted highway.”

It was Monday morning and the trooper had not finished his morning coffee and was in rare mood. He proceeded to explain the foolhardiness to Johnny’s mom about sending her son across the street. She nodded respectfully in tears, but didn’t hear anything he said as the ambulance arrived and began to prepare Johnny’s still unconscious body rapidly for the trip. The troopers lecture was cut short by their arrival. Johnny’s mom joined him in the ambulance as they asked her for her insurance card… “It must be at home,” she sheepishly lied. As the ambulance pulled away, the onlookers one by one returned to their day and the trooper closed his report book, opened his car door and took a drink of his coffee on the vehicle roof and cringed…it was ice cold.

In one hour the scene would be gone. In 24 hours it would be mentioned on page 13 of the local paper. In one week, Johnny’s seat would still be empty in the classroom. In a year, only Johnny’s mom would remember the horror of those two seconds that changed her life, and Johnny’s forever.

You may have gathered by this point, in this fictitious tale, this parable, that the schools are not really schools – they are countries, once one united territory, but now separated with geopolitical lines…solid lines on google maps. And the street is not a highway, it is a border, maybe constituted by the Rio Grande, or an uninhabitable desert. And the car driving by is a “coyote” or hotel or house operator, human trafficker, or any host of individuals who get their cut of the nearly $6,000 it costs for someone to make the trip from Central America to the United States.

The big question everyone wants answered, who is to blame?

  • Johnny for agreeing to make the walk every day to the new school?
  • Johnny’s mom for sending him, even compelling him to go?
  • The dozens of kids who daily cross the street?
  • The passing car for not paying attention, not stopping, not taking responsibility for the human atrocity occurring in their business?
  • The old school for not improving conditions in order to offer a better education to kids like Johnny and his cousins?
  • The state trooper for not enforcing the jaywalking laws and requiring the due penalty to avoid this slew of crossings?
  • The City Council for not taking action to put the fence up across the highway knowing that lives are daily being put at risk?
  • Perhaps even the new school that received Johnny with open arms, knowing that his address was not within the school district?


Which leads us to the real question. What can be done to keep more Johnnys from the same fate?

But it is against the law…!!

…we will look at that in the next post.

Convention 2017 – Washington DC


Foursquare Convention began for me (Jared) on May 24, as one of the translators for the Global Council.  This Council is comprised of National Leaders, regional chairs (from the different geographical sections: Central America, South Pacific, North Asia…etc.), area Missionaries and other invited contributors.

This Council demonstrates one of the key values and practices of the Foursquare Church since its’ inception –  from the time that a nation is first entered by missionaries, it is to rapidly move towards releasing the Nationals from U.S. leadership to a healthy natural role in governing the work in their context, while maintaining a familial relationship with the original work.  This may seem like subtle policy conversations, but on the ground it is VITALLY IMPORTANT!  I have talked with many colleagues from other organizations whose movements can’t seem to get traction because they lack a real connection with the sending organization, yet this organization continues to make critical decisions from such a long distance away.  This move towards partnership becomes so much more effective, though it is more difficult at the onset.

The Global Council is a direct result of this shared value.  Sitting in these meetings, as a translator, I was so encouraged to hear leaders from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, South Pacific and the U.S. all come to the table and discuss the realities of ministry today, pray and vision for the future, and allocate shared resources to accomplish these goals.  WAY TO GO!!

(Top Left: Prayer for Leslie Keegle, Sri Lankan, the new chair of the Global Council.  Presidents Sergio Caceres (Argentina), Glen Burris (U.S.), Jim Scott and Paul Otremba.  The Latin America crew together for breakfast: Clockwise: Jared, Sergio (Argentina), Paul & Ulrike Otremba (Colombia), Raúl (Panamá), David (Caribbean), Juan Carlos (Dominican Republic) and Jonathan Hall (Brazil, Miami, Los Angeles..)

Washington DC during Memorial Day week is a great time to visit, beautiful weather, lots of activity and this year spending Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery with Pastors Paul & Ainsley Harmon…a very fitting place to remember the contribution and ultimate sacrifice of so many for the freedoms that we enjoy:

And a few more photographic-scapes from Washington:

(Clockwise Below Left: Hubble space telescope, Hope Diamond 45.5 carats, Benjamin Franklin portrait, Jefferson Memorial, view across the tidal basin, “The Thinker,” Washington Monument / Center photos: entry to the metro at Dupont Circle, Leonardo da Vinci painting “Ginevra de’ Benci” National Gallery of Art)

So What…?


A great, and full day of celebrating the Resurrection…actually here, it is a full week, “Semana Santa.”

But today is Monday…and the looming question, so what?

I taught out of 1 Corinthians 15 this Sunday, in my opinion, the best developed theology and explanation of the absolute necessity of the Resurrection of Jesus for our faith.  But I like how practical Paul is, let me summarize his two main arguments that answer the so what…if there isn’t life after death…and the final…so what if there is!?

#1 – Hey, I have been really pummeled by this Christianity thing, even attacked by animals (if that’s what you want to call it 1 Cor. 15:30, 32).  It the resurrection didn’t happen, then why do we go through all of this…why do we put ourselves in danger every day?

#2 – Hey, if there is no afterlife then LET’S PARTY!!  Paul gives us the Greek philosophy  that is the end of the conclusion when we doubt the literal – physical – resurrection of our new bodies.  (1 Cor. 15:32) If the dead aren’t raised then eat and drink (live it up) for tomorrow we die.

#3 – If we really will be risen and have one short life to prepare for it…then I am going to live for God like there is no tomorrow.

That is the So What? of the resurrection of Jesus, our faith falls apart without it, it is necessary for all that we believe, and it is what our life is founded on.  This is a literal, historical, witnessed event that has changed the course of human history.

Now how is it going to change the history of one particular human… mainly YOU?

Team Update Hope Chapel H.B.

Over the span of 10 days in February, our home church, Hope Chapel, in Huntington Beach CA, joined us for their first official ministry trip to El Salvador…and it was incredible.  Of the 713 people served by the medical clinics, there were a multitude of stories that could be retold, but I wanted to pass on two:

Police Chief Eliseo Samuel: In Santa Ana, the church had called the local police station to send officers during the clinic to secure the site (they offer this service whenever there is a need…mostly because of the large quantity of medications).  Para aprovechar…to take advantage of their time there, each of the police officers on duty came through to receive much needed medical care, many needing basic medications and services.  During the prayer time, all officers received prayer and a few received the Lord!!  The chief of this office, Eliseo Samuel is a Christian man and we felt that the Lord developed a strong connection with him and the church.  We gave him our canopy for a project for the police department and he arrived during the church service on Sunday to pick it up and greet the team one more time.  Often with the focus on the gangs and the violence, we forget those who serve the community.  As Eliseo told me, “under this uniform we are human beings.”

Ines 102 years old: On our second day in San José we had the honor of serving and praying for Ines, who was 102 years young.  Now almost completely blind and very frail, she was served in a much needed way in the very poor community of San José.  As we found with many of the visitors, when asked if they know Jesus, most say yes, but don’t have a personal relationship with Him.  This was NOT THE CASE with Ines.  As Hanya and I asked her our normal question of, “Do you know what Jesus has done for you to receive eternal life?” this very frail lady, lit up and began to declare how He had saved her and recounted the numerous blessings He had given her.  What a joy it was to serve this wonderful saint, born over a century ago!

Clockwise from Upper Left: Hanya with Ines / Pastor Paul and Justin on the prayer team / several of the patient mothers waiting / Police Chief Eliseo receives a canopy for his department / Prayer team / Wayne & Pastor Paul with officer Rolando / Theresa with intake interview / David in the pharmacy explains use of medications / Paul & Wayne test and distribute reading glasses / committed prayer team workers


Points of Interest from the team:

  1. Leading people to Christ – in a region where everyone has heard of Jesus, it was remarkable to see the large number (do not have an exact count) who had never made that commitment to receive salvation (Romans 10:9-10) and give their lives to Him.  It was a joy to lead so many in this commitment for the first time.
  2. 713 people received care from the team during the medical clinics.  Theresa led the intake process and Dr. Moots from the team, and a volunteer Dr. Monjaras from El Salvador met with each patient.  This included a medical consultation and/or reading glasses, prayer, prescriptions to the pharmacy, usually taking about 30 minutes, plus a wait in the line.  Nobody complained and the Salvadorans were “Very humble and kind people” as describer by our guest Doctor Moots, who has lead over 20 clinics like this.  This type of care is not common and many basic needs were met in a compassionate and loving way.
  3. Multiplying medications.  Jason recounted in our debrief meeting how the only bottle of a certain prescription that was regularly ordered by the doctor never ran out…a loaves and fishes type of miracle.
  4. Our local church members worked tirelessly.  Johanna in San José took down the names of EVERY SINGLE person (436) during the two days, and decided not to even take her lunch break until the clinic ended every day.  Our translators Justin (from our church plant) and Mario (also our driver) worked tirelessly with the prayer and medical teams.  Both churches’ volunteers embraced their community, taught the kids, cared for needs and prayed with their neighbors…basically the Kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ reached out and loved their neighbors in a very practical and selfless way.
  5. Health, safety and joy:  Some of our team members were warned not to come to El Salvador because of the security.  there were a couple of tired days and some colorful bug bites…but no accidents, injuries, irate patients, nothing of the “bad news” that many suggested.  In reality, on the last trip home after the fourth LONG…LONG day of re-routed traffic for closed highways, serving the multitudes in the heat, staying for a church service, and the ride home, our team was laughing and filled with joy.  I was so impressed and filled with joy by our Hope Chapel team!!
  6. As always, incredible, Spirit led ministry.  Jason, Paul Petruna, and Gail shared great devotional messages at our Bible studies, Pastors Paul and Andre preached down the power of God on our Sunday services and Vickie and Wayne shared stirring testimonies…and the prayer time was uniquely anointed as the Lord ministered through our team to our Salvadoran family.

Thank you Hope Chapel for a powerful 10 days of ministry…we can’t wait for the next visit!!


Change your life…

today-e1417215808956Choose this day.  This moment. God or gods. Creator or creation. Bread or crumbs. Jesus or boredom. Worship or die. Look and Live, p. 220

I am just finishing a book written by Matt Papa, Look and Live, which delves into the interesting doctrine of the glory of God, in a profound way, but with a conclusion that is so very practical.  And the practical conclusion is what I want to leave with you, for our thought to chew on this week.

This moment contains all moments.  Theology is practical: especially now.  – C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain pp. 24, 94-5

I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.  The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord,…For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.  – George Müller Autobiography of George Müller: The Life of Trust p. 207

In a funny twist of irony, as I write this I just finished praying and received in one hour 13 messages that started the minute I began to pray…had to turn my phone off to stop the pinging of my iPhone…you remember each message that you ignore dings twice…26 dings.  The irony is that my desire to pray, then to write a blog about the need to disconnect was literally bombarded by distractions.  I did get up to check the phone…and promptly turned it off.

Matt Papa’s point with this book, really contemplating the depth of God’s glory is captured in the title Look and Live.  Only as we intentionally gaze, stare, contemplate, admire, adore…use any, and all superfluous terms that you can conjure up…and use these to stare longingly at Jesus…and you will live.

The C.S. Lewis quote explains that the entirety of our life, our productivity, our faith, our influence, all depend on now.  How do you start your day, how do you end it.  Life is lived in only one day…TODAY!  And what you invest in your walk with the Lord, and what you receive from Him is only realized in one moment NOW!

George Müller, one of my spiritual mentors (yes, you can be mentored by someone who never lived in the same time period) did an amazing work of feeding thousands of orphans, pastoring one single church over decades, and was known as an “apostle of faith,” realized that this all stemmed from his incredible devotion to prayer and to the study of the Bible.  What we do for God is shaped by the closeness of our relationship to God and with Him.

This week, composed of 7 days, remember that your growth in relationship with the Lord is the most important thing and that tomorrow is not the day to be concerned with it.  Your fruitfulness in life, the health of your family and relationships, everything revolves around this one significant thing, and that one thing, depends entirely upon today.


His Blessed Word


Last week in His blessed promise I shared from Isaiah 54 some promises that we together declared with one of our churches this past week.  Following this topic of delving into the promises and richness of the word of God, this week I want to pass on a podcast from Foursquare area missionary Jeff Roper and his blog “All In”

He interviews Steve Schell, one of our great Foursquare Pastors about preaching through the Bible, not from the Bible, not themes supported by the Bible, but the concept of going through the Bible.  They take a look at a historic movement that was founded on this simple concept and the great benefit that we are offered by doing this.  The beloved J. Vernon McGee, decades after his death is still on prime time as he teaches through the word, one chapter at a time.  Chuck Smith (also trained as a Foursquare minister), who pastored in our home church of Hope Chapel, founded the Calvary Chapel movement with this principle as well…preach the word…the entirety of the Bible.


If you haven’t been exposed to this, or possibly never gone through the Bible in a year, 2017 would be a great time to start.

Here are a couple of options:

The Solid Life Reading Plan pdf (utilized for our discipleship classes) reads through the Bible in a year.

The Solid Life Reading Plan through the Bible App

Download the Bible App here