By Emily Morrow Loachamin
I have had a love for the Hispanic culture for the majority of my adult life. My career path has led me to work with undocumented Hispanic families in a verity of settings and just over 2 years ago I married an Ecuadorian.
At the time I did not realize what this would mean for the continued revelation of my calling or for my personal investment within the Hispanic community as a whole. Over the past year, as my husband has pastored a Hispanic congregation and I have continued working with Hispanic families, the national discourse and growing fear has become a daily part of our lives. In the chaos that has been growing, I had to come to a place of submission to God and recognize that I do not have the ability to change people’s hearts, but I do have the power to love.
It was with this recognition that we began a journey to find a way we can love our Hispanic brothers and sisters in the midst of the turmoil. Although I cannot change someone’s legal status or how they are treated by society, I could ensure that their children get an education, that they have access to medical care and that, if possible, they have a legal path to some sense of security.
We began speaking with local attorneys, social service agencies and churches about the services that currently exist in our community and how we might help Spanish speakers access these services. In October of 2017 we opened La Puerta at First Baptist Waco, which is a ministry of accompaniment. We also began the Waco Hispanic Resource Task Force and have gathered over 20 public and private local agencies in the areas of education, health, mental health, and legal services to identify our successes and work towards communal solutions to commonly observed gaps in services.
What is palpable in the Hispanic community is the fear. The fear of an unknown future, fear of separation from their families and most of all fear to speak out and use their voices to advocate for themselves and their families. Scripture calls us to step into this place of fear and isolation and bring love and embrace.
Leviticus 19:33-34 tells us, “when a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
I often feel overwhelmed by the challenges we are facing today. But in this turmoil I recognize that I have a choice to make. I can add to the noise and the hate and seek my own voice to be heard, pushing those most in need further into isolation. Or I can create a safe space, a space of silence, a space for tears and a space for the quiet voices to be heard from the shadows.
Emily Morrow Loachamin is a CBF Vestal Scholar currently seeking her M.Div. and MSW from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She is a Case Management Specialist working with undocumented families and currently serves at First Baptist Waco’s ministry La Puerta.