Valley religious leaders say caring for migrants is difficult but worthwhile

Apr 17, 2019, 7:07 PM
(Facebook Photo/Central Christian Church)...
(Facebook Photo/Central Christian Church)
(Facebook Photo/Central Christian Church)

PHOENIX — Two Valley religious leaders involved in churches that work with immigrants say the work can be overwhelming, but ultimately it brings them joy.

“We are overjoyed by being able to see families be reunited,” Rev. Ken Heintzelman of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday.

“We are overjoyed when a small child is traumatized by their experience … and they come out of that trauma and then they can’t take their eyes off their feet because they got new tennis shoes.”

Heintzelman said his church has been working with immigrants for five years, and specifically asylum seekers for almost three years.

“When we got involved, we were providing … overnight hospitality and shelter and food and showers and clothing — just, again, an alternative experience of grace and hospitality to those people,” he said.

Matt Nutter, director for global outreach for Central Christian Church in Mesa, told Mac & Gaydos that families from his church have hosted migrants in their homes.

“It’s a lot of work. It doesn’t end; it’s always there. … I’ve seen the toll that it takes on people. It can be exhausting on the personnel, on the resources,” he said.

However, he said, there’s no question if the effort is worth the struggle.

“You meet somebody, you hear a story, you get to see the humanity in them,” he said.

“And it moves that needle from being something that exhausts you over into something that kind of energizes you, even though it’s still a lot of work.”

Heintzelman estimated that it costs his church $35 to $40 per person to provide them with basic resources before they travel throughout the country to meet family members.

But, he said, the church has received enough donations to mostly offset the costs.

“It is not exhausting us financially,” he said.

Nutter said the suggestion that nonprofits turn away migrants and force the government to handle the situation would not lead to a solution.

“This is such a complicated issue … that’s not going to be solved by churches abdicating our responsibility as followers of Jesus to love the vulnerable population,” he said.

Heintzelman agreed and called the tensions over an increasing number of border apprehensions a “manufactured crisis.”

“This has been going on for years, if not decades, just from a different part of the globe,” he said.

“This is a challenge of logistics, it’s a challenge of scale, but we have the resources as a country to deal with it. We just don’t seem to have the vision or the will to do it.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Deborah Sciortino...

Silver Alert canceled for 67-year-old woman last seen in Mesa

A Silver Alert was canceled Saturday morning for a 67-year-old woman last seen in Mesa, authorities said.
8 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Hot weather, clear skies forecast for Valley over Fourth of July weekend

People likely won't have to worry about the monsoon season putting a damper on Independence Day celebrations this weekend in the Valley, but temperatures will continue to be in the triple digits.
8 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Scammers target Valley residents with jury duty fraud scheme

The Maricopa County Superior Court said scammers are tricking Valley residents over the phone into paying up to avoid arrest and fines for not showing up for jury duty.
8 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Here’s how to keep your pet healthy and safe during the Fourth of July

Here are some tips on how to keep your pet healthy and safe during the Fourth of July, a typically rough day for animals because of fireworks.
8 hours ago
(Piqsels Photo)...

Mesa man sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexual conduct with a minor

A Mesa man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to having sexual conduct with a minor, authorities said.
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Arizona officials halt fish stockings from largest state hatchery amid bacterial outbreak

Arizona officials have halted all fish stockings from the largest state-run hatchery because of a bacterial outbreak among its trout.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Valley religious leaders say caring for migrants is difficult but worthwhile