Monday, April 4, 2011

Baseball and Migrant Workers

Well, it’s Spring Break for both me and the kids so we decided to take the week and visit Jessica’s family Canada.  A few weeks back as we were making plans for the trip, I found out that the Minnesota Twins were playing Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) in Toronto which is only about an hour from my in-laws.

So I sent out an APB to all Jessica’s family and told them we were going and it’d be great if they came along too.  Well, everybody took me up on it and and on Saturday we ended with seventeen of us going to watch the second game of the 2011 baseball season!

As one of the handful of Twins fans in the stadium of 27,000 plus fans, I was disappointed with the outcome since the Twins lost 6-1 and only managed one hit the entire game.  However, it was a lot of fun to be there with a bunch of people and it was great to see the Twins action again.

One of the in-laws that went along with us is Jessica’s brother, Adam and his three boys.  On Sunday night, I had the privilege of attending part of a worship service for about 100 local Mexican migrant workers with him and his family, along with my father-in-law.   

The situation for migrant workers in Canada is much different than those in the United States.  Canada, to their credit, has figured out a way to systematize the temporary foreign worker program and has developed a  process for them to enter the country and work on a legal, temporary basis.  Greenhouses and nurseries work through a government program through by which they can register and track and receive proper documentation for the workers from Mexico that they employ on a temporary basis. 

Many of them arrive in April and stay and work until sometime in the Fall.  Many of them have been coming to work at the same greenhouse for years, returning to their families in the winter and then returning each Spring to work.

There are three churches in the area (from three different denominations) that provide a ministry to these workers while they are here in the Spring and Summer.  They have jointly hired a full-time Spanish speaking missionary and together they offer an evening Sunday worship service complete with Spanish bible and song books, and a bible study during the week.   The churches provide transportation to and from these activities. In addition, the pastor of this ministry travels around to the different job sites during the week and acts as a kind of chaplain to the workers since many of them live together in temporary housing provided by the greenhouses that employ them.

It was refreshing to see a government working together with business to create a program that works for everyone, supplying greenhouses with good labor.  But it was even more exciting to see three churches coming together in a unique way to provide an impactful and meaningful outreach ministry to migrant workers who are separated from their families for most the year – year after year.    The temptations for the workers in those situations are immense and this ministry is providing community and accountability. 

They are staying grounded in Scripture through this ministry, of that I’m sure – even if I barely understood a word that was spoken last night.

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