[VIMEO=136937877]ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — I escaped communist Cuba in 1962 as an 11-year-old boy hiding at the bottom of a cargo ship with my family. We had nothing but each other when we arrived in the United States. Through the love and hospitality of Southern Baptist strangers, my family received assistance that not only helped us in our journey toward citizenship, but helped us in our faith journey as well.
That experience has forever colored how I view today’s immigrants. Years later, when my wife Cindy and I were attending First Baptist Woodstock near Atlanta, we met Ron and Cathy Frost. They asked us to help them launch a Spanish-language Sunday School class. Together we visited trailer parks and houses making friends with the Hispanic people throughout the county. After several months a few regulars began attending. As we shared Christ we also helped them find jobs, learn English and establish citizenship.
A few years later, the Frosts moved to Spain as International Mission Board missionaries and we moved, too. But the Sunday School class continued to grow. It’s now a church called Iglesia Nuevo Horizonte en Woodstock, where 245 people gather weekly to worship in Spanish.
Today there are so many kinds of people coming to America at record levels. These immigrants not only need jobs and English classes — they need to hear the Gospel. No doubt some immigrants look and dress different than us, but we should not let that stop us from reaching out and loving them in the name of Christ.
Because missionaries from the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, now the North American Mission Board, and everyday Christians loved us and offered help, my parents became Christians. God orchestrated it for me to come serve that same HMB as financial controller in 1992, 30 years after our arrival. Now, I serve as the executive vice president at NAMB. I am grateful that Southern Baptists reached out to our family and loved us.
We all need someone to befriend us and “take us in” at some point in our lives. I hope you can be that someone for a newcomer in your community.