As well traveled and as fully versed in Presbyterian mission as he is, Tom Elander was still surprised by what he witnessed and learned at the U.S.-Mexico border last winter. As a participant in a travel study seminar hosted by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program to help better understand the real-world impact of migration and immigration law, Tom appreciated the group’s itinerary, which struck just the right balance between taking in important information and putting hands and feet to work.
“I walked away with a much greater appreciation for how difficult life is for many people from Mexico and Central America,” said Tom of his four-day experience in Los Angeles and Tijuana, “and how they often look to the U.S. as a beacon of hope to help them escape the misery in their lives — whether from poverty, violence, lack of education or lack of opportunity.”
Tom is grateful that his church, Brentwood in West Los Angeles — especially the associate pastor, the Rev. Lora East — has been very supportive of his efforts. He said, thanks in large part to Rev. East, that Brentwood has become a Matthew 25 congregation during the past year. Through their continued engagement with Matthew 25 and the Peace & Global Witness Offering, the church commits to sharing the peace of Christ with all God’s children.
The Peace & Global Witness Offering supports ministries that work for reconciliation and facilitate healing. Half of the Peace & Global Witness Offering goes to the national church to address these issues around the world — including the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program — 25% is retained by congregations just like ours for local peace and reconciliation work, and 25% goes to mid councils for similar ministries on the regional level.
Tom’s experience on the border has sparked a light of understanding that comes from seeing things firsthand and has emboldened him to speak out wherever and whenever necessary.
“My service on the Pacific Presbytery task force in particular has helped me to know that there are times when I must push back on my own government when the basic needs of human beings and fellow Christians are not only ignored, but also when obstacles are deliberately put in the way of people seeking freedom and a safe and decent life with hope for the future,” he said. “These experiences have allowed me to know how a little support can go a long way. The Peace & Global Witness Offering can really make a difference in the lives of people in need.”
Please give generously, for when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.
God, make us a people of peace, at all times and in all ways. Challenge us to reach out and connect with all your people to shape your “kin-dom” together. Amen.