Three years ago, my husband and I re-watched some services in which guest speaker, Jamie Winship, asked the congregation to pray and ask the Lord, “Who are my people?” From our couch, my husband and I fully engaged in this prayer. To my surprise, I immediately received the response, “Latinos.” I was doubtful, but childhood memories began to surface: I had always loved and been interested in Latino people and culture, and the Spanish language. Suddenly, and without logical explanation, it all clicked! God had revealed something that had been there my whole life but hadn’t understood: Latinos are my people.
Armed with this exhilarating new purpose and not willing to wait for the excitement to fade, I quickly contacted Kensington and asked to get involved in the K-Rock (now Kaleo) kids’ performing arts program. I had recently heard about the program being done in Pontiac schools through Kensington’s School Partners initiative and, knowing that Pontiac hosts a significant Latino population, figured that would be a good place to start. I was invited to help with the program with Kensington Birmingham’s school partner, ITA, and was there for two years. First volunteering wherever I was needed and then acting as a liaison between the Kaleo program and the parents of the students.
It was during my second year that the Lord miraculously connected me with a dear friend and ministry partner, Angelica Astudillo. At the end of my second year, I learned that Kensington’s Orion campus was going to launch a Kaleo School Partnership program with Pontiac’s Will Rogers Elementary. Orion is my family’s home campus and I was confident that this was where the Lord was leading me. In the fall of 2017, Orion kicked off a Kaleo partnership with Rogers Elementary.
As the session progressed, we found that there were several Spanish-speaking mothers staying and waiting at the church rather than dropping off children. My friend Angelica and I knew this was an opportunity to befriend these women– but it was a slow process to build trust. We continually asked the Lord how to proceed, what He wanted us to know, etc.
There were times we had to choose to be patient with superficial conversation when we could see there was deeper pain below the surface. It was imperative that we not break the trust they were beginning to give us by trying to dig too deep too fast. Over the course of the year, we learned of two great needs in our small Latino Kaleo community:
1. Their children need help with their studies. They’re struggling in school and their parents are unable to help.
2. The moms desperately want to learn English.
Angelica and I sought the Lord on how we could best serve these precious families and decided to begin a homework help and tutoring program for the students, and an English as a Second Language (ESL) class for the adults. Now, our students and their parents know they can depend on us to help with homework and to tutor them where they need it. Our mom-friends are learning English and beginning to feel empowered and encouraged.
We give glory to God for the depth of relationship He has allowed us to build with these amazing families. Our moms trust us now, we’re truly friends. We have had the honor of praying with them for their needs. One of them has allowed us into a situation in her life that could be scary and intimidating, trusting us to walk alongside her through it.
Why did I decide to move out and impact this community? One word: obedience. I came to a place in my life where I had to decide if it was worth living my life to serve Christ. When I said “yes” to Jesus I decided to say “yes” to everything He asked of me. I’m so glad I did. This life of obedience to Christ, of serving others at the cost of my comfort, is rich and rewarding and I’m living with no regrets.
Interested in joining Jocelyn as she moves out to serve Kaleo families? Find your own fit in the Kaleo program or elsewhere in our partner schools by emailing [email protected], or see a variety of move out opportunities by checking our new Move Out Network coming soon!
Come be inspired at our upcoming Move Out Gathering with dynamic speakers and compelling break-out sessions that will equip you to move out right where you are! kensingtonchurch.org/moveout