Seeds of Ministry with African Immigrants at First United Methodist Church of Hurst (FUMC Hurst) began in November 2012 when then Senior Pastor Philip Rhodes, envisioned a powerful new ministry that would reach out to the growing number of African immigrants in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area. The goal was to develop a ministry that would reach out to these newcomers and respond to their spiritual, social and other needs. encourage them to be part of the church worship and prayers, and help them to adjust to American style of life and facilitate their integration in the American society.
Many days of dreaming went into creating a ministry with African Immigrants at FUMC Hurst. This dream came to fruition in2013 when Reverend Joseph Kazadi, a Presbyterian minister from Africa and member of FUMC Hurst since 2008, was added to the church staff as Director of Ministries with African Immigrants.
In March 2013, the church committed to support the start of this new ministry and received a generous startup fund from church members for the emergency cash assistance and other expenses needed.
At the beginning, this ministry intended to offer Bible studies to French speaking Africans each Sunday morning along with home visits on Thursdays. This program started with six African immigrant families. With the increasing number of immigrants in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford metro area, the church decided to establish a more structured and formal program modeled on Project Hope at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano. This program focuses on developing plans for each family served to reach self-sustainability. As the church began helping the first group, it identified three programs as tools to success: (1) English Class for Adults, (2) Computer Literacy Training, (3) Family Assistance Program.
The English program started in 2014 with a goal of helping immigrants navigate the language barrier. Computer literacy was another component of programs also added in 2014. A Family Assistance program was developed by the church to better serve African immigrants who have difficulty in finding a place to stay or making monthly payments (rental or utility payments) and in finding furniture for their new apartments in our community.
It is important to mention that, since the beginning of the year 2013, we have been blessed in this church to work with the growing number of African immigrants in our community. Our goal has been to welcome these immigrants into our community of faith, give them hope and respond to their needs. First United Methodist Church of Hurst has become a “church home” for them and their families. It has become a place where they feel safe and and are able to worship in Christian community. It has become their church away from home. These families are not only our neighbors, but also a part of our Christian community.
“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34).