This morning Karen and I are in Paris. We catch a flight to Malaga, Spain in half an hour – just enough time for a quick post about our wonderful Hispanic community in Gainesville.
Since we arrived in Gainesville as transplants from Florida in 1994, I’ve thought about all the others like ourselves coming here from far away places.
I’ve especially thought about the large Hispanic community here (close to 40%) and I’ve wondered, “How can we connect with them and help them through a time when many feel dislocated?” We minister in so many Latin communities outside our borders – what a great opportunity exists within just a few miles of our home.
So when Angelo Velis showed up in Gainesville six years ago, I felt an instant bond with him. God has called he and his wife Missy to minister to the Latins here. They founded a ministry called the Torch. We’ve been joining them on Wednesday evenings for an outreach in one of the Hispanic neighborhoods.
The needs are so great. Angelo shared that last month one of the young people who comes to their outreach was stabbed. He’s lost five young people that way in the past.
One of them, Juan Gomez, wrote this in a letter
a day before he was shot to death: “I am tired of being out on the
streets and getting into trouble with police. I want to
change and get out of gang life. When it comes to the point in life
where I have a family, I don’t want them to see me as a low-life
And the question is, how will the church respond? We are dreaming about joining with our friends to establish a church. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to minister along people who are strong in their faith as Angelo.