Tucson church casts out fear

Courtesy of Rev. Jim WiltbankBy Kate Strohmeyer, DSC Writer/Editor

Francisco Perez Cordova, an undocumented husband and father, lives like any American. He spends time with his wife Sarai and five U.S. born children, he works hard, and he pays taxes. Although Francisco is considered a low-priority case per Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he has orders to leave the country, so the family lives in constant fear of being separated from one another. To help keep the family together, local Methodists are intervening. Francisco lives in sanctuary at St. Francis of the Foothills United Methodist Church in Tucson, AZ.

According to Rev. Jim Wiltbank, the church provides a bedroom for Francisco, a trailer for the family to spend time together, and a nightly prayer vigil. The church members take shifts around the clock so Francisco is never left alone. They also pay the family’s monthly rent and utility bills.

“While the work of being a sanctuary church is difficult,” Pastor Jim states, “It is absolutely worth it to get to know this family.”

An online petition is another way the church is supporting the family. They hope the petition gains the attention of government officials who can close Francisco’s deportation case.

“Ultimately something has to be done [about immigration],” Pastor Jim explains, “and instead of being able to fix the system, we can help one person. There are more church communities ready to take people in if the situation arises.”

He is referring to the 24 other churches and synagogues in 12 different cities who are a part of Sanctuary2014.org, a growing movement protecting immigrants living in fear of deportation.

Pastor Jim considers the family an amazing blessing, and invites other individuals and churches to get involved in immigration advocacy. He is hosting a forum to discuss the issues concerning the legalities, security, and logistics of hosting a sanctuary seeker at St. Francis on Nov. 9, 2014.

Editor’s Note:

A recording of the Sanctuary Forum will be available soon through the Desert Southwest Conference Communications office. Contact for more information.

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