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Sojourning with Christ: Migration as calling

Acting in Faith  |  By David Jaimes, Mar 17, 2015
Photo: AFSC / Don Davis

David Jaimes was asked to prepare a message for Saturday morning's programmed meeting for worship at the 2015 AFSC Corporation Meeting (March 5-7). David gave powerful vocal ministry inspired by the 2015 Corporation Meeting theme, "Radical Hospitality: Working for Immigrant Justice." Below is a version of his message that has been edited for length. If you'd like to learn how you or your meeting/church can support immigrant justice in your community, join our next call for spirited action with AFSC staff members Jenn Piper and Lori Khamala on Thursday. Learn more and register here. ~ GE

I am glad that I am in this place. This is a house of worship; a house of prayer. I am very glad that last night we got to experience authentic voices with 67 Sueños. Today I will try to be as authentic to myself as I can and also authentic to the Spirit.

My name is David Jaimes. Here is a quick story as to where I am right now. I just moved to Texas, south of Houston, and I am the pastor of Student Ministries working with Jr. High and High School students at Friendswood Friends Church.

I became part of the Friends Church about 8 years ago. A church in California by the name of Rose Drive Friends Church, appointed my dad to be the pastor of a Hispanic church plant in a densely populated Mexican neighborhood in Placentia/Fullerton area. That is where I first felt the call to vocational ministry.

David and Claudia JaimesI graduated from Barclay College, a small Friends Bible College in Kansas where I studied Theology and the Bible. Last year, I was married to Claudia and moved to Texas from California. Everything that ever happened to one person happened to me in one year: marriage, moving out, graduating, new job, new culture; did I say marriage? But I am thankful that the Lord has me where I am at and thankful to be among Friends.

How many of you were blessed to hear the stories of 67 Sueños last night? I was sitting in the back getting fired up because I have the same passion for justice. Hearing their conversations of Latino liberation and the Chicano movement back in the day, they got me pumped up as I was trying to be as Quakerly as possible in my bench. I commend them because their voices are rare and important. The everyday immigrant living an everyday life in our cities. I am glad we got to hear their raw stories with passion and honesty. 

But as we are gathered here this morning in a spirit of worship, my resolve is to share with you this: Because of my faith in Christ, I am an immigrant. Because of my faith, I am empowered to go. Because of my faith, I have a purpose in my journey. Because of my faith, I am compelled to love the immigrant among us. Because of my faith, borders disappear and love overflows.

My story begins in Peru with my Grandfather, Wilfredo. Whenever I talk about my family background, for some reason I start with my grandfather. He was the first one to truly commit himself to Christ. There was a missionary that came to our village, and through him my grandfather was saved. Our family history before him we cannot recall, but from that point on there is purpose for our lives. My grandfather, and his children, including my dad, were all committed to the ministry of evangelizing in our villages and cities from then on.

David's Grandfather, Wilfredo (third from left)And so my story continues as an immigration story. When my parents were married, they had me and felt called to come to the United States. My dad was a pastor at the time, and there was an opportunity for him to serve and do ministry work here. But like countless others, we had to go through unconventional methods to get here. That is how much this calling meant to us.

We are all called to go. Some of us are called to sacrifice. The Spirit is always on the move. Every day we are called to go beyond the familiar and experience the unknown. It is in that moving that there is a movement. It is in that place where we meditate. It is where fear escapes and wonder leads. There in the uncertainty is where faith guides us.  

I remember my mom and dad telling me stories that as an 8 month old baby they carried me across the Arizona desert! For a lot of people, they don’t like that story. They don’t understand why my parents would endanger their lives and the life of their child to do something that they could’ve done in their own country. What is more foolish is sitting still and not acting upon the leading of the Sprit to move.

David with his parents in PeruIn most cases being called to move doesn’t make sense. It is something unexplainable that I can’t fully grasp myself. I have no answer to the question of why I am in the US. I know that my God is a God that is orderly and that we all should be respectful of laws of the land, but at the same time, when we know in our hearts what we are supposed to do, we must obey that higher calling and act upon it. For my parents, that was what they did. My faith is in Christ, not in others.

I also migrated within this country. I lived in southern California most of my life, and when our Friends church started, I began to minister to young people in the city and felt that I was called to be among them and minister. But the Lord continues to move us and he did that with me.

He called me to Kansas, to go into a small town to study. It was a hard thing to do because I had to give up everything that I knew and enjoyed and treasured to pursue God’s plan. It was hard. And now I landed in south Texas. God is everywhere. He is always moving; to follow him is our calling.

Moving is very important. God helps us in our faith because moving challenges us. It takes us out of what we know, or what we believe we know, and puts us in a place where we don’t know, and we have to trust God, be obedient, and be led in the Spirit.  Many of us are considering that this morning. For it is not only what we think about immigration and the discussions around it, but it is what we do to respond in Spirit and in truth, For if we are not acting then what are we doing?

We cannot just sit here and pray and hope to do something but we must do something. That is our calling. We have to go out there and move out of our ideals and out of cities and partner with those that are least among us.

We’ve seen this in scripture where God is always calling us to move. We see that Abraham was called by God to go where he was told. In our Quaker history, I have heard of the Valiant 60, or the “Publishers of Truth,” where a courageous group of preachers, felt called to move in the late 17th century. I think it was Paul Anderson who called this event the first Quaker Missional Movement.

Photo by Don Davis (AFSC)This is where people were convinced by the Spirit that Christ was truth and it needed to be spread. The title of “valiant” speaks to the great sacrifice that comes with this calling. Have we seen a movement of that kind since then? Some of us like to recall the past, but I say that we need another “Valiant 60,” a group of people to get out of their comfort and go.

Some notable Quaker missionaries were George Fox, Margaret Fell, Mary Fisher (who preached to the Sultan of Turkey), Edward Burrough, Elizabeth Hooton, James Nayler, and many more. We see this also in the Underground Railroad.

Levi Coffin helped run-away enslaved people in North Carolina. Elias Hicks helped to boycott slave trade goods. Henry Stubbs helped run-away enslaved people get across Indiana. The Bundy Family became a safe haven to transport people formerly enslaved from Belmont to Salem, Ohio.

It’s a rich history and it’s something that we can look back on and say that we have been true to God’s calling to love the stranger and be with them, but one of the things we have to ask ourselves is, “Are we being true to that calling today?”

Are we true worshipers in which we respond to acts of love led by the Spirit? Was it authentic? What did you do? The question for us as Quakers and faith workers is, “Are we being true to the leading of the Spirit?”

I am not trying to put guilt on you but we must be honest and truthful to Spirit when he shows us that his loving nature wants to expand us to embrace more people. That is one thing I want to challenge you to do today. I love Christ because he helps us to be with those we are not familiar with. He says in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (NIV Translation).

We are All Immigrants (Photo taken by flickr user Claudia A. De La Garza; Creative Commons)To go, to migrate, to move. There are millions of people across the world moving for different reasons, some for the American dream. I moved because my parents felt the calling to do ministry here. Some people move because of hardships and wars in their countries. But do we look at these people, and do we clothe them? Are we radically moving ourselves as a society of believers and seeing them? Are we seeing that of God in them? Or are we seeing pity or too much work and discomfort.

Because of my faith in Christ, I am an immigrant. Because of where I am, I have faith. It was not of my own will to come to this country. It wasn’t of my own discernment process to be here. But it was of another will, a will greater than I: God’s will to love all people and move them to love.

Because of my faith in Christ, because of our faith, we are migrants continually moving in our own lives, trying to fulfill the promises of the leading of the Spirit to those that need help.

I encourage you today to be honest and truthful to that Spirit’s leading, and go into your meetings, churches, work places, and be faithful to that calling. Amen. 

About the Author

David was born in Peru, but raised in California where he was married to his bride Claudia. David loves Christ and His Church, especially those in the margins. Currently, he serves as Pastor of Student Ministries at Friendswood Friends Church near Houston, Texas. He feels called to the ministry of reconciliation.

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Lucy is AFSC’s Director of Friends Relations. She has been a storyteller for 20 years and has worked with Quaker meetings on telling stories for racial justice and of spiritual experience. She attends Green Street Friends Meeting (PhYM) and lives with her son and partner in a Quaker cemetery.

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