The Latino people are the next face to be included in Quakerism. The great Quaker founder, George Fox, once saw a vision of people who were gathered together on a hill and recounted: “I came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered (Rufus M. Jones (ed.), The Journal of George Fox, (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1976), 150).”
I often wonder what Fox might have seen. How vast was this group of people? What kinds of people were they? What would set them apart? If today the various sects of Quakers would gather, and George Fox himself would be there to witness it, would his vision be confirmed? Does this great and gathered people include those who are of color? Is there room for those who are Hispanic? How diverse are Quakers? These are important questions for Friends to consider.
Quite honestly the answer to these questions offers a different picture than the one Fox proclaimed. At a glance, there seems to be little progress in reaching diverse people groups at home when compared to our efforts abroad. Recent statistics from the Friends World Committee for Consultation show that there are more than 377,000 Friends in the world, and 20% of them are from North America (Finding Quakers Around the World, 2012). Even though the numbers are seemingly low in North America, there is a tremendous amount of influence coming from North America that impacts the rest of the multi-faceted Quaker world.
Recently, I became connected with an organization known as World Relief as part of their Cross-Cultural Internship Program. I labored alongside church leaders in tackling the issue of immigration reform. This opened the door for me to see a broad perspective of injustices: such as, the criminalization of people that have not committed damage to the country, families being torn apart and the marginalization that is prevalent in the lives of so many families of different nationalities. Many of these people are of Latin-American descent. Through this experience, the Lord has revealed to me his compassion towards these growing peoples and how the church, mainly the Friends church, can embrace these people to become included in that greater vision of George Fox: “A great people to be gathered.”
Immigration is a politically charged issue in my home state of California. I was invited by World Relief to partake in an important relationship-building effort to assist the church in supporting their immigrant neighbors and connecting with their communities as Christ once did for us. I traveled to our nation’s capital for the purpose of advocating for a fair and just comprehensive immigration reform. There was an opportunity for me to attend a national gathering of Evangelicals called “Pray 4 Reform.” As we met with politicians and other leaders, I realized the goal of this event was to bring together Evangelicals from all across the nation to fight for the cause of immigration reform. I was able to gain knowledge about what it means to be an active citizen of the United States. Being from California, I visited the offices of more than five California congressmen and women and their staffers.
After returning from that trip and reflecting on many other meetings in Washington D.C., I have come to the conclusion that we as Christ’s ambassadors should be concerned about injustices in the treatment of immigrants in this land (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). The cause of immigration reform is a cause for every Quaker. The inhumane treatment of families that are torn apart because of deportations, the marginalization of an entire people because of their heritage and language, the abuse of their labor and not granting them a pathway to citizenship for their investment are some of the moral concerns that immigrants face today in these United States of America. It must stop.
To be a great people we must include the marginalized around us. Jesus said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. There is not a greater posture than to put someone else before you. Christ did and so should we, as a people of the Light; especially as people called out by God, to gather his holy diaspora and reconcile each other to God. Latinos in this country are as much a part of George Fox’s vision as others. Let’s be attuned to the Spirit and keep gathering the great people.
David J. Jaimes is a graduating senior at Barclay College studying Bible/Theology. Born in Peru, and raised in California, David comes from a continuing lineage of pastors. In 2008 Rose Drive Friends Church planted a small Spanish-speaking church in Fullerton. David was impelled by the Spirit to serve alongside his father and establish “Iglesia Amigos Puente de Gracia.” He served three years as Youth Director and then pursued his degree in Kansas. David is called into Pastoral Ministry to persons who are marginalized by poverty, race, and hate. David hopes that he can serve wholeheartedly the Kingdom of God with the message of hope and love in Christ.