Written by Mary Brownlee, intern for Caring Hearts- April 2021
When we think of missions we think about flying across the border to an impoverished country and providing aid to those in need. This particular sector of missions is absolutely necessary and a crucial part of the mission that God has called us to in Acts 1:8. However, more often than not we fail to realize that the mission of the gospel can also be found in our backyard.
For Caring Hearts, we have felt called by the Lord to be on mission in our very own backyard. What this has meant is expanding our ministry to the West Nashville Hispanic population. It is crazy that we are approaching a year since our sister organization, The West Nashville Dream Center reached out to us about this community which has similar needs to the ones we serve in Mexico. The community is primarily immigrant and refugee families who are in low-income housing and only speak Spanish. According to Migration Policy, Mexican immigrants account for 24% of nearly 45 million foreign-born residents in the United States. Of this number, on average there are approximately 49% of immigrants that never graduated high school. Education is not the priority of a lot of these refugees which is understandable but creates a problem for the next generation. Parents often are left out of the loop of what is happening and being taught in school because the communication is in English. Outside of that, if a parent is not educated then they are not equipped to help their child succeed academically or have the financial fluency to get their children into programs that can support them. There are a variety of other reasons a lack of proper education could occur. The median salary for an immigrant household with 3.1 persons earn about $36,000 annually according to PEW. Some of the simple questions we have seen have come from teachers within the West Nashville school district who desire to see their students succeed but only have limited resources to provide them.
As a response to the need Caring Hearts has started a program that not only helps meet the educational need but also fulfill the spiritual. Jillan, our Nashville Programs Director has started a tutoring program on the weekends for the youth that live in this community. Each Saturday, the children are joined by volunteers from Nashville, Caring Hearts staff, and teachers from their local school to study, play games, and learn a bible study. The program has grown so much that there are now other non-profits partnering alongside us to steward food, education and health resources to this community, even the local police department!
Part of our mission is not only to continue to meet the basic needs that this community has through tutoring services and a feeding program, but also help bridge the gap between the hurting community and the sometimes disconnected Nashville community around it who is unaware of the poverty right in their backyard . We have first-hand seen what this looks like. Education is a fundamental part of a child growing up in the United States, but it does not stop there. For many of these children, it is just as important that they are comfortable with the local community and new home they live in. Setting children up for success should not just be a basic needs checklist but preparation for a life that they choose.
Part of our goal right now is to gain the trust of the West Nashville community which starts with listening to the needs and desires of the community leaders. In talking to the leaders in the community, Caring Hearts is committed to strategically and empathetically trying to reach the hearts of both the adults and the youth of this community through the message of the gospel and physical needs. We are all children of God and that title is not measured by a far- away distance but frequently is just steps away from home.
“The Global Refugee Crisis: What You Need To Know.” Action Against Hunger, May 15, 2020.https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/global-refugee-crisis-facts-definition-how-to-help?ch_google_adwords%7Ctrg_kwd-325114660488%7Cgrp_60605727001%7Ccrt_379242614379%7Ckwmt_b%7Cps_%7Csrct_g%7Ctrgt_%7Csrc_%7Cdevt_c%7Cdevm_%7Ccid_1463262433%7Clcl_9013193%7Cfdi_%7Cmrlid_0s%7Cdop_&gclid=CjwKCAjwjbCDBhAwEiwAiudBy3u3pUgChQH9T1zedBKJEO1OUuddelJxqizYxCms38gEl9UEI123ExoCihsQAvD_BwE.
“Pew Research Center.” Pew Research Center – GuideStar Profile. Accessed April 6, 2021. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/20-0881724?utm_term=&utm_campaign=Database%2BCampaign&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&hsa_src=g&hsa_ad=352786165835&hsa_grp=63391970637&hsa_cam=1655225892&hsa_ver=3&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_mt=b&hsa_acc=7800317649&hsa_kw=&hsa_tgt=dsa-373533762883&gclid=CjwKCAjwjbCDBhAwEiwAiudBy0a–RQs1eoX_x0uLFtKb_Mj8nKdBogQZ-UsH7qUcRClan1t-LLtjBoCuUkQAvD_BwE.
West Nashville Dream Center. Accessed April 6, 2021. https://www.westnashdc.com/.