Today’s 10-Fold ministry is UMCOR’s Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) Program, a ministry that welcomes immigrants into our churches and communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy. Simply by following the link “Be counted” and submitting, $1 will be donated to the ministry by today’s sponsor.
Motivated by Christian values of love, justice, and compassion, JFON serves the vulnerable, low-income immigrants in our communities by helping them to navigate through a very confusing and labyrinthine system. By engaging volunteers from their congregations and communities to staff their JFON clinics, United Methodist churches are coming alongside their immigrant neighbors and helping them to feel accepted and welcomed.
The Peace and Justice Clinic became the North Carolina Justice For Our Neighbors immigration legal clinic under UMCOR in July. Throughout the Bible, people of faith are exhorted to show kindness to the strangers in their midst. In fact, Jesus feels so deeply about such hospitality that he says, to welcome the stranger, is to welcome him.
The monthly clinics, beginning at Matthews UMC, offer us a way to be faithful to that call. The clinic provides free legal counsel to immigrants in a home-like hospitable atmosphere of caring and welcome. Although not all immigration problems can be solved through the clinic, the clinic offers truth in a world where others may attempt to deceive and a place where immigrants can trust what they are hearing.
It is a place different from regular law practices. It is a place where offering food and drink and holding and loving babies is as important as what happens in intake and consultations. It is a place where prayer is offered afterwards, if the client desires. It is a place where connections are made–where community is made.
It is a place where people from all over the world, with stories different from but the same as ours, gather together. They tell of wanting to be with their families, of wanting to have a good home, or wanting a better way.
It is a place where volunteers come from local churches, the community at large, and the legal community. Hospitality workers greet clients and offer refreshments, a smile and a kind word, and Christ-like love to the clients and their families. Volunteer intake workers assist after acts of hospitality and welcome, and gather the information necessary to determine the client’s situation. Interpreters act as bridges while assisting with translation for those clients who do not understand the language and need help. The clinic coordinator keeps things moving smoothly. The case managers review files, make calls and collect documents for each case so that the case can be reviewed by the attorney.
Lawyers and paralegals learn a kinder, gentler way of law practice. Some volunteers learn things about immigration laws which they take with them and ponder. All volunteers meet people and hear stories which change their ways of looking at the world and of looking at immigration issues.
It is a place of bringing order to chaos, of offering peace instead of fear, of making things right, of loving neighbor.
If you would like to volunteer or if you have questions, please call the Peace and Justice Clinic at 704-847-6261 Ext. 319 or 704-815-1947 and leave a message. Or e-mail the Peace and Justice Clinic at email@example.com. Or e-mail Trish Pegram, the attorney for the clinic, at firstname.lastname@example.org.