In Unity Lies Strength “En la Unión está la Fuerza”

“En la Unión está la Fuerza” (In Unity lies Strength)

Latinos or Hispanics are far from being a homogeneous group.  Immigrants come from different countries and ethnicities, speak a multitude of languages and celebrate diverse holidays and customs. A farmer from the mountains of Honduras will be very different from a businesswoman raised in inner- city El Salvador.  However, there are some unifying factors that contribute to common values for persons of Latino or Hispanic heritage.

One principle is a tendency to embrace a communitarian worldview, to understand the individual as part of a larger system – a family or group. Latinos are taught people are at their best when they live in community and understand their responsibilities to others.

“We [the immigrant community] come together when someone has a problem,” says Hermilindo Roblero, a Guatemalan immigrant.  “We may have our differences, but when we need to raise money for a funeral or help a family when the head of the household has been deported, we do it.”

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Latin America is strongly influenced by this sense of community and still has physical reminders of unity with each other and with God.  Today pueblos, a word that means both village and people, are laid out around a town square that includes a church facing a plaza, park, or common area.  For over 500 years of Hispanic history, this has been the norm.

This is the place where the pueblo, or people, come together to worship, relax and catch up on the latest news and gossip.  The plazas are popular on Sundays, when people gather for mass and spend time with family, sharing ice cream and snow cones or just people-watching.  The plaza is a busy place and the heart of the town.

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In the US, many Latin American immigrants struggle with the emphasis on the individual.  As North Americans, we value independence and celebrate when our children can do things on their own and don’t need us anymore.  We teach our kids to express their opinions and to take responsibility for themselves and the direction of their lives.  And while this is all good, we see fewer physical reminders of our connectedness. There is no plaza where we gather together, and we have the tendency to become isolated and stop seeing the needs in our communities.

Despite the differences among Latin American immigrants, there are times when various groups come together and unite as one pueblo, one community.  Unity comes easily around a common issue, such as immigration reform, or advocacy for DREAMers. This sense of community is particularly strong when someone is in crisis and needs strength to get through hard times.

“They are a culture that takes care of one another and will have someone sleeping on the couch or the extra bedroom before letting someone sleep on the street,” says Meghann Cotter from Micah Ecumenical Ministries, an organization serving the homeless in Fredericksburg.

It’s uncommon to see many homeless and hungry people in the Latino community.  There’s always room for another person somewhere in the house and an extra bit of rice in the pot.  This communitarian worldview is the salvation of many immigrants who feel very alone in the U.S.

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This is also the spirit LUCHA promotes: the idea that we are family in Christ. It takes the pueblo, the many individuals and diverse groups working together, to become a pueblo, the village and community united in solidarity and support.

Want to make a difference? How You Can Help LUCHA Ministries

Many people ask, “How is LUCHA funded?”  LUCHA is its own 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and is not directly supported by any specific organization.  During FY 2014, approximately 65% of our financial support came from individual donors, and the remaining 35% through churches, special offerings, grants, and from other organizations. That means that you, our friends and neighbors, are a vital part of what we do.

God has allowed LUCHA Ministries to do some amazing things, and yet we are at a point where LUCHA needs to increase its revenue in order to do even more, to better serve our immigrant families, to raise awareness and serve as advocates. We continue to depend on dedicated volunteers, who are very committed and work tirelessly for LUCHA, but we need another paid staff member to direct programs, manage logistics and help us coordinate volunteer efforts. We can and do utilize student workers and interns, but we must provide for their expenses and/or offer a stipend. While the costs are skyrocketing, so too are the needs.

We’ve all been hearing about unaccompanied minors coming to our area to be reunited with family here in the US.  Their needs are formidable, and their families are often overwhelmed when they arrive.  Several of the families we serve are sponsors for recently-arrived family members, and we provide food, help with transportation, and ensure that they find the help they need in the community.  Your donations help provide emergency assistance to help these and other needy families get through times of crisis.

Project ¡Adelante! needs stipends for English teachers and other instructors, and for scholarships for students to earn professional certifications, such as training through the American Red Cross.  Providing childcare for preschoolers allows parents to study English while their children receive homework assistance through Bridges of Hope, and it also provides part-time work, training, and experience for the childcare providers.

We want your help! Please commit to giving, volunteering, serving, and/or praying for LUCHA. Consider talking with your church, Bible Study or missions group and ask them to support us. Maybe you sit on the board of a foundation or organization that would consider aiding our efforts and can help by recommending LUCHA Ministries for financial assistance.  We spend considerable time writing grant applications in an effort to raise more revenue, and your help in finding potential grants or securing funding is very important.

Also, when you shop through Amazon, be sure to use AmazonSmile and designate LUCHA as your charity of choice.  Every little bit goes a long ways toward caring for immigrant families struggling in their new home.  And finally, check the opportunities for giving through your workplace.  As a member of the Rappahannock United Way, LUCHA can receive donations through federated campaigns.

In celebration of our first ten years of ministry, we hope you will donate ten dollars per month to assist LUCHA in serving the needs of our immigrant community.  Our commitment in the community is the result of dedicated and hard-working volunteers as well as the gracious giving of our donors.  In addition to giving online via PayPal (no account necessary), we welcome your cash and checks.  Your gifts are tax deductible.

We are thankful to God that you choose to be part of this ministry, and continue to be amazed and humbled by God’s provision.  Please click HERE to donate.

The Hope LUCHA's support provides encouragement for young immigrants, as seen in this new video

As we complete ten years of work with immigrant families, LUCHA has the privilege of knowing many young adults who have literally grown up with us.  “The Hope” features two of these young people.

We initially focused on the needs of immigrant adults but soon realized that we needed to include the family as well. Immigrants often told us that they had come to the US to give their children a better life, and we wanted to help make this possible. We support families by providing school supplies, offering youth and enrichment activities during the summers, and providing homework assistance to children.

LUCHA helps create a strong, healthy family environment by giving parents the tools they need to be good parents. We guide them through the challenges of parenting bicultural children who are both Latino and American, who share values from both cultures. We help them understand the school system and the role of parents in the educational process.

And these efforts pay off. Watch our new video, The Hope, to see how two young immigrants are thriving in college today, thanks to the sacrifice of their parents, the encouragement of LUCHA, and the willingness of a school to accept them.