This week, we will be hearing from Emilio Cabrera. Emilio studies at Seattle Pacific University and is a first generation immigrant from Mexico. Emilio is a former intern with Breakthrough Partners, and gladly shared with us his insight on the South Seattle community.
Working as an intern with Los Amigos de Breakthrough Partners was a beautiful and empowering experience. As an intern I would go on Tuesdays and Thursdays to meet with Pastor Keith Tungseth and Silvia Huaynoca. We would meet and talk about the different issues concerning the Latino and immigrant community in the greater Seattle area. In particular, this community faces is housing segregation in South Seattle. We would drive together to South Seattle to see firsthand and experience how we could empower the Latino community and build leaders within this population. Housing segregation and relocation is common for immigrants and especially Latinos in South Seattle. Hence, advocating and making people aware of this issue is an important first step if we truly hope to act and see changes that will benefit both the one helping and the one who is in a difficult situation.
A specific way that I helped advocate for the Latino community was joining in with different church leaders to hear them talk and share their different goals and programs within their specific churches targeting Latino youth and the immigrant population. My personal opinion and insight, as a first generation immigrant from Mexico, was asked and listened to. These church leaders wanted to hear from a brother who has faced similar issues as the people in their congregations in order to identify and connect better with them. The work of reconciliation is not just one way of doing things, from me to you, but is a mutual cycle of learning from one another in order to collaborate and work together. Ministry in this way is a continuous cycle where God is truly the one guiding the direction and movement of each of us.
I shared with the pastors the story of my connection with Kenny, a white homeless man that I had met my freshman year of college in the streets of downtown Seattle. We sat on the sidewalk and exchanged stories about our lives, and we both prayed for each other. A couple of months later, I found Kenny again in Redmond. He didn’t remember me, but the opportunity to talk and listen from him was given to me again. Ministry works in the same way. We do not have to assume that we are at one spectrum of the reconciliation process. We do not assume that we are bringing peace and order to peoples’ lives, but we accept that God is meeting us there when we engage in conversations and intentional relationships with the other, with someone different from us.
Hence, identification is essential in working together to build leaders in communities and reconcilers of all nations. But in order to truly know how to do this, we must have a representative of both sides of the picture. We must have one person advocating and sharing their heart from each side of the wall. Diversity within leadership is essential and vital for this work to truly happen. Then, when we are together in this walk, we can both pray for God to shows us the way to go forward and direct our hearts to work together with a same goal and vision in mind. Interning with Breakthrough Partners showed me a lot in this work of leadership building and reconciliation. Most importantly, I learned I have a voice, that each one of us has a voice, and it plays an important role in how we work to move forward together.