Newsletter – January/February 2018

January/February, 2018

PIM 2018: New Direction – The Steering Committee of the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry (PIM) decided to go in a new direction in 2018. This decision was needed because financial resources are short. PIM had already exhausted all possible grants from the Synod and from our denomination. In addition to this, PIM received fewer donations in 2017 than in previous years. The consequence is that PIM can’t afford to keep me working on a full time basis, as I have been since the beginning. Since I will have to find another job, I decided to move to Salt Lake City, where I will be closer to my daughter and her family, and where I will look for a new position. PIM will not close its ministry. The Bible studies will continue on a different basis, with the Rev. Paulo Ribeiro at the Bristol County prison and the Rev. Alonso da Cunha at the Suffolk County prison (Boston) and Plymouth County prison (Plymouth). They will be paid by honorarium per visit. The Rev. Alonso is the husband of Katia, who will continue her Bible studies among immigrant women in Boston. February 28 is my last day serving PIM. After serving PIM since 2011, I’m glad that PIM will continue serving the immigrants in prison. I’m thankful to God for all the experiences I have had since I started visiting prisons in 2005. I met people from several countries, and through the Bible studies God used me to spread the Good News to many people, most of whom went back to their original countries bringing with them the Word of God.

I’m thankful to God for all the support I have received from the beginning until now. I’m thankful to the Steering Committee, which was always at my side. I saw how difficult it was for them to take this decision. Since PIM will continue, I ask you to continue to give your support, praying for Rev. Paulo, Rev. Alonso, and Katia, and continuing to offer your financial support.

Certificate of Appreciation – Last Friday and yesterday were days of saying goodbye. As I was conducting my last Bible studies the prisoners offered me words of gratitude and encouragement for the next steps in my life. One group went further. It is a group in one of the units at the prison in Boston. Before the Bible study they chose to sing my favorite Christian songs, those I used to sing with them. After the Bible study they gave me a Certificate of Appreciation, signed on the front by two of their leaders and on the back by the other inmates. On the certificate is written: “This certificate is awarded to Pastor Gerson in recognition of his incredible contribution spreading the Word that changes lives.” And on the back: “Thank you for all your teachings and lessons, we will always remember you. You planted the seed in our hearts. Best wishes from the inmates of South Bay.”

I don’t need to say how blessed I feel.

Humiliation – Sometimes, when arriving at or leaving the prison, my path crosses with immigrants arriving at the facility. It’s so sad seeing those men, with no criminal records, being transported in handcuffs and with chains on their legs. I have talked with some of them, asking how they feel in such a situation. Unanimously, their answer is: “I have never been through a humiliation like that.” This makes me think that in addition to the Bible studies, we, as part of the Church of Jesus, should do something else. How can we, as part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), address this dreadful treatment that our country is giving to people who, according to Jesus, should be welcomed among us (Mathew 25:35)? Even in the Old Testament the will of God is very explicit about how a stranger shall be treated: Leviticus 19:33-34 – “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” In addition to being very clear, this verse ends by saying “I am the Lord your God,” which for me means that these words shall be obeyed without question.

So I think we have a real demand on our hands. How can we, as Presbyterian Christians, address this problem?

Donations Received (Dec/17, Jan and Feb/2018):

– First Presbyterian Church – Newport, RI

– Bethel Presbyterian Church (3X)

– Igreja Presbiteriana de Boston (3X)

– First Presbyterian Church – Stamford, CT (4X)

– First Presbyterian Church – Hartford, CT

– First Presbyterian Church – New Haven, CT

– Greenwood Community – Warwick, RI (2X)

– Valley Presbyterian Church

– Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos , CA

– Crossroads Presbyterian Church

– Dana & Janet Lindsley

– Glenn & Nancy Ramsey

– Alice & Robert Evans

– Linda & Harold Sanders

– Joan Priest

– Dana Lindsay

– Wayne Parrish

– Tiffany Nicely Holleck

– Arthur Shippee

– Tom & Janet Tayllor

– Chris & Andrew Foster

– Shirley Duddley

– Jeffrey Wood

– Patricia Wales

– Ralph Jones

– Roland & Ruth Ann Chase

ATTENTION! Send your donations by check or money order made out to: Presbytery of Southern New England – P.O. Box 388, Chester, CT 06412 – Important: write a note designating your offer to the Presbyterian Immigrant Ministry.

Donate online through our website: http://www.presbim.com

Click on support and ways to give.

February – Attendance

Day Prison (all units) Attendance
02/02 Plymouth 25
02/06 Bristol 28
02/06 Boston 16
02/09 Plymouth 46
02/13 Bristol 23
02/13 Boston 35
02/16 Plymouth 42
02/20 Bristol 25
02/20 Boston 31
02/23 Plymouth 23
02/27 Bristol 21
02/27 Boston 25