The first convention of Latino Workers in Ontario held at WestPark Iglesia brought together migrant workers from several South Western Ontario Locations – Mount Brydges, Forest, Sarnia, Tillsonburg, and Thedford. A biblical reflection centered around the question who has robbed you of your peace. The workers from Mexico and Guatemala sang praise choruses, enjoyed the Mariachi singers and lines up for the Mexican style food. Some devoted soccer players delayed their supper to play a game of their favourite sport.
Pastor Mario assisted by an able translator prayed for workers.
Canadians who prepared and served the food and who have been leaders of the ministry in the communities mentioned above; all expressed the blessing they had in serving workers. They were also grateful for the seeds of the word of God that were planted during the months and years of ministry and during the event itself. Even when serving meant going out of their way to drive workers to London, to answer questions of a worker who has worked for 28 years about applying for a pension, to translate when there were problems and to host a worker’s wife who came from Cuernavaca.
Members of one Mexican family commented on the meat which was very much like the carnitas they ate back in Mexico. A Canadian English-speaking pastor expanded his Spanish vocabulary learning “solamente.” Solamente en cristo – only in jesus was a key line in one of the chouruses playing in the background. A key phrase to describe the day – only in Jesus is salvation found.
You might ask what these three things have to do with each other especially the last one with the first two. All three were together at WestPark Iglesia in London to celebrate Independence Day with a large number of Mexican migrant workers. Also together were 250 or more people singing Spanish and English and enjoying a good time together. Where did the 250 people come from? Some came from London, some from Stratford, some from Sarnia and others from places like Thedford, Mount Brydges and Tillsonburg where Pastor Mario and his team have been involved in evangelism to migrant workers.
How does debt fit into the situation? Pastor Mario spoke about debt just before the meal was served and in particular, spiritual debt which causes feelings of guilt and separation. He also explained that the debt has been cancelled by Jesus on the cross and that heaven is open for all. Fourteen people prayed for God to cancel their debt and free them from guilt and to receive the gift of salvation. The Mariachi singers were excellent and one Mexican said thank you to Ana (a singer) for bringing joy into a moment of sadness in being away from home on a day that is very important to their culture and experience. Lots of people asked to have their picture taken with Ana.
Tacos – physical food – followed the cultural food (Mariachi) and spiritual food (the message) and were enjoyed by everyone. The event closed as Mexicans gathered clothing, hats, toys, suitcases and linens etc. to take home to their families in Mexico.
Members of a mission team are getting ready, set and going to the Dominican Republic over the next few weeks. Part of getting ready is getting to know each other since team members are from three communities, London, Sarnia, Simcoe and Thamesford. We fellowshipped over lunch, shared stories of previous mission experience and ate chicken, rice, beans and salad –typical of the main meal in a Dominican home.
Iglesia WestPark (Church) in London welcomed us to a Spanish language worship service so we could worship together. Attending a Spanish language service is part of the necessary orientation for team members. Pastor Mario arranged for anointing and prayer to send off the team. Team members want to bless, to grow spiritually, to become as one and to share God’s word and respond to what He has called us to do.
After lunch, we explained the crafts planned for women and children: sang several worship songs in Spanish, praised God for the success in fundraising, exchanged cell phone numbers so we could stay in contact, showed each other some of our hospitality gifts and more.