Frank Espinoza is Mexican-American and currently serves as Young Adult Minister at Hope Community Church in Austin, TX as well as Campus Staff Minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Frank is married to his beautiful wife Daniela, who is Venezuelan-Cuban-American.
Jean Nangwala is a singer, speaker, creator and survivor-advocate. She was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. Her passion for social justice stems from her personal experience of injustice and witnessing the same inequality across the globe.
지더맨 Jee Wook Lee is a graphic designer, illustrator, and entrepreneur based in NY/NJ area. He was born in South Korea, and graduated with a BFA graphic design degree from the School of Visual Arts NYC. He has worked in advertising and urban streetwear industry, which led to starting his own company Ziegu (ziegu.com / @ziegu_earth), a faith-inspired fashion brand committed to bringing positive influence on people as well as this beautiful planet we are living in. He uses his creativity as a tool to communicate the gospel. You can connect with him at @jeetheman on Instagram.
Josue is a creative that loves to create meaningful visuals that communicate a message in an inspiring and effective way. He is originally from Costa Rica but now living in the American south with his newly married Bride, Shelby and her cat Milo. Josue also serves as the Design Assistant for Pax and Designer for Vive Media. See more of his work at www.josuecarballohuertas.com
Michael Frazier is an award-winning poet & educator living in central Japan. He graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 poet commencement speaker & a co-champion of CUPSI. He's performed at Nuyorican Poets Café, Lincoln Center, Gallatin Arts Festival, & other venues. His poems appear, or are forthcoming, in Poetry Daily, The Offing, Cream City Review, RHINO, Visible Poetry Project, & elsewhere. He also volunteers as a Youth Leader at a small cafe in Kanazawa City that’s on fire for Christ, and he’s working on poetry collection(s) about oyakodon, his hilarious mother, and being black in Japan. He’s uber passionate about anime, bubble tea, and, most importantly, the power of Christ to change lives. He also facilitates a biweekly zoom poetry book club open to the public. Message @fraziermichael or visit fraziermichael.com to join!
Mondo Scott is the Creative Director at Pax. His other creative side hustles include design, photography and mentoring urban youth in the digital arts at AMP Los Angeles, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He also serves on the Pastoral team at Ecclesia Hollywood in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Salena and daughter Selah.
Urias Abraham is a Mexican-American logo designer and illustrator. Born in the United States and being raised in Mexico he was able to taste the best of both cultures. His passion has always been to share the message of the gospel through creative art work. He is currently a freelance designer while living in Ensenada, Mexico. See his work and contact information on his Instagram profile @urias.ab
Briana Stensrud is a human dignity advocate and the director of Women of Welcome. Her passion is to equip the church to engage more consistently and tangibly in holistic human dignity issues. Throughout her work in the pro-life movement, Briana faced questions from those concerned about immigrants and refugees. Understanding that many concerns were rooted in fear and misinformation, she started a journey to rediscover God’s heart for the sojourner. She holds a masters of biblical & theological studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two kids.
Gena Ruocco Thomas holds a masters in international development from Eastern University and has written two books, A Smoldering Wick: Igniting Missions Work with Sustainable Practices and Separated by the Border: A birth mother, a foster mother, and a migrant child's 3,000-mile journey. She works as a program coordinator for World Relief.
Jeff loves ministry with and for young adults. Since 2001, Jeff has worked with college students and young adults in campus ministry, the local church, and as a university chaplain. He studied theology at Fuller Seminary (PhD, ’17) in order to better serve and reach both young people and the ideas and institutions that shape them. Jeff is a mediocre musician and woodworker. A child of Taiwanese immigrant parents, he’s a husband to Lisa, father to a high schooler and a middle schooler, and human to their dog, Shadow. Jeff is taken captive by Christ for ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
Jules Martínez-Olivieri is the Milton B. Engebretson chair in evangelism and justice at North Park Theological Seminary. He is a theologian, practitioner, and author of A Visible Witness: Christology, Liberation and Participation (Fortress Press, 2016). Available in Spanish as Un Testimonio Visible: Cristología, Liberación y Participación (Publicaciones Kerigma, 2020).
Kristel Acevedo is a wife, mother, and daughter of immigrants. She is a writer who serves at her local church creating discipleship resources. She graduated with a master of arts in biblical counseling from Southeastern Seminary. She is passionate about serving and advocating for the immigrant community. Her devotional, You Took Me In: 3-Day Devotional Developing a Biblical View on Immigration, is available for free on her website kristelacevedo.com.
Noemi Vega Quiñones is the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Vega, and immigrated to the United States at the age of five. She is coauthor of Hermanas: Deepening our Identity and Growing our Influence. Noemi is a PhD student in religion and theological ethics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, and serves on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the Latino Fellowship department. When not reading or writing, Noemi loves to catch up on the phone with her family and friends.
Paola Fuentes Gleghorn is the immigration and women and girls campaign manager at Sojourners. Paola is originally from Costa Rica but grew up in Nicaragua, where her family worked alongside local churches in pastoral training, youth leadership development, and addressing injustices in medical care access. She graduated from Calvin University with a degree in international development and a minor in business. Paola is passionate about equipping and encouraging people of faith to pursue God’s heart for justice through advocacy and systemic change.
Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero is pastor of The Gathering Place, a Latino-led multiethnic Assemblies of God congregation in Orlando, FL. Salguero is also the president and founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. He was formerly director of the Hispanic Leadership Program and the Institute for Faith and Public Life at Princeton Theological Seminary. Rev. Salguero has served on the White House Faith-Based Advisory Council, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the board of La Asociación Evangélica Latina, the representative body for all evangelical associations in Latin America. He lives with his wife, Rev. Jeanette Salguero, and their two sons in Orlando.
Alma Ruth is the founder and president of the Practice Mercy Foundation, which serves extremely vulnerable women and children along the Mexico-Texas border. She has been in global cross-cultural missionary service since 1990. After serving in and out of Cuba in 1993-98, she developed holistic missional initiatives for Mexican seminary students from 1998 to 2008. Alma invites people of faith to extend mercy and compassion toward asylum seekers and international communities in the complex region of the Rio Grande Valley along the
Blanca Castillo was born in Honduras and immigrated to the United States at the age of three. In college, Blanca studied government with a concentration in Western legal traditions and minored in Spanish. She then moved to El Paso, TX, for a post-graduate fellowship program with Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach. Through the program, Blanca gained extensive experience studying the migrant crisis along the border and the impact of immigration on a city like El Paso. Her passion to connect with and support the shelters in Juárez, Mexico, is what drives her work with Abara as a shelter connector. Her greatest hope is to educate as many as possible on the crisis at our borders and bring back the human aspect of immigration.
Christina Lee is a journalist and marketing and communications professional in China. She is originally from Liaoning Province in northeast China and has also lived in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beijing.
Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is an award-winning writer, editor, and communications consultant. She has served in the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors for more than a decade, including stints in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Kenya. Dorcas is the author of two books, Start Love Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-up World and Let There d.light: How One Social Enterprise Brought Solar Products to 100 Million People. Her next book, Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul, will be released in 2022. She is an editor with Pax and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two hapa sons.
Dr. Michelle Ami Reyes is the co-executive director of Pax and vice president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative. She is also the scholar-in-residence at Hope Community Church, a minority-led multicultural church in East Austin, TX, where her husband, Aaron, serves as lead pastor. Michelle's work on faith and culture has been featured in Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Missio Alliance, Faithfully Magazine and more. She is the author of Becoming All Things: How Small Changes Lead to Lasting Connections Across Cultures, a book on cross-cultural relationships. Follow Michelle on Twitter and Instagram.
Guillermo Torres has been working for CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) since 2011, and is currently director of the immigration campaign. He educates congregations about immigration issues, trains clergy and lay leaders around sanctuary for immigrants facing deportation, recruits clergy and congregations to support asylum seekers and to visit immigrants in detention centers. Guilllermo also serves as the coordinator of CLUE’s Black/Brown Clergy Committee. Through his advocacy, he coordinated the interfaith UCARE Coalition for refugee unaccompanied minors and their families from Central America and successfully organized clergy in Long Beach, CA, to help hotel workers win living wages and better working conditions.
Helen Lee is the associate director of strategic partnerships and initiatives at InterVarsity Press (IVP), where she previously served as a marketing director and an acquisitions editor. She is the creator and producer of IVP’s Every Voice Now Podcast. Helen is a longtime writer in Christian spaces, starting at Christianity Today in the mid-1990s during which time she wrote her seminal article on Asian American Christianity, “Silent Exodus.” She has authored, edited, and contributed to a number of books, devotionals, and Bibles, including The Missional Mom. Her next coauthored book, The Race-Wise Family, will be released May 2022. Helen is married to classical pianist and professor Brian Lee; they live in Chicagoland and have three active, teenage sons.
As a young boy growing up in Nigeria, Hogan Bassey was tired of battling mosquitoes and malaria. At ten years old, a determined Hogan mixed up a home brew of household chemicals in the family bathtub in hopes of stopping mosquitoes and malaria for good. Although his homemade concoction fell short, Hogan never gave up his dream of helping people escape the discomfort and deadly diseases that come from insect bites. Not long after graduating from the University of Georgia, Hogan founded LivFul, Inc., a company that pioneers health innovations to help people live free, live well, and live full regardless of their context. He serves as the company’s chief access officer.
Jai Patel is a second-generation Indian American who is passionate about helping others experience their newfound identity in Christ, and unpacking the beauty and complexity of their cultural and ethnic heritage. Raised in a culturally Hindu household, he placed his faith in Jesus in 2014 and never looked back. He has served on staff with Cru, an international campus ministry, as well as a local church, equipping college students to thrive in their lives and usher in God’s kingdom to a lost and broken world. Jai is the content manager at Pax. He has a BA in business, communication and philosophy from the University of Texas, San Antonio, and is pursuing an MBA at LSU Shreveport. He lives in Houma, LA, with his wife, Priyanka.
Jonathan Fung serves as the director of legal services for the Immigration Resource Center of San Gabriel Valley, a nonprofit legal services provider and ministry of Mountainside Communion, a Church of the Nazarene in Monrovia, CA, where he has been on staff since 2016. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a BS in accounting, and the University of Michigan Law School, where he earned his JD. His experience with immigration law includes working in the private sector with immigrant investors before transitioning to the nonprofit sector to provide services for the undocumented community, with a particular focus on benefits for mixed-status families, Dreamers, and for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence.
Josue Carballo Huertas is a husband, a designer, and a cat dad. Originally from Costa Rica, he moved to the United States in 2015.
Karla Mendoza was born in Lima, Perú, where the Pacific Ocean was her best friend. She migrated to the US with her mom and sister when she was eleven years old, reuniting with her dad in the land of the Iroquois in the Midwest. Karla spends most of her life in the intersectionality of being a Jesus-loving Afro-Indigenous Peruvian, undocumented immigrant, and a fat woman. Antiracism discipleship is the heartbeat of her writing and speaking. She dabbles in visual arts, writing, teaching, bookbinding, photography, and recently took up podcasting on El Cafecito with Karla. Most of all, she loves laughing, the color yellow, Bad Bunny, drinking single-origin pour overs, and reading multiple books at once.
Marcos Canales, originally from Costa Rica, has pastored in the Latina community of the greater Los Angeles area and worked with nonprofits in youth development, mentoring, and immigration advocacy for more than a decade. Currently, Marcos is pastor of La Fuente Ministries, a bilingual, intercultural, and intergenerational congregation of Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene. He has also been a leading strategist for the Center for the Study of Hispanic Church and Community (Centro Latino) at Fuller Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor at various theological institutions. He received his MDiv from Fuller, and he loves to integrate Christian discipleship, social justice, and Latina theology. He is married to Andrea, a therapist, and they are raising their son, Elias, in Pasadena, CA.
Martha Gatkuoch was born in a remote South Sudanese village around 1991. In 2001, her village was attacked by rebels. She fled hundreds of miles on foot with her three younger brothers to Uganda, where they lived in a refugee camp for six years. In 2007, Martha and her brothers received permission to immigrate to the US through the Unattached Refugee Minor program. Once in California, they went through six foster care placements until they finally found a permanent family. Martha now provides home health care to elderly and disabled individuals while continuing her education and raising her young daughter. Learn more in her memoir, It Feels Like the Burning Hut.
Matt Elsberry is president and chief strategy officer for Livful. He started his career at an NGO, helping to grow it from 3 countries to 80 countries in six years. Through this, he realized NGOs can sometimes cause more harm than good. Matt then became VP of organization development for a regional conglomerate in Asia for five years, hoping to inspire businesses to adopt a long-term view of caring for communities, and founded the Kingdom Entrepreneurship Academy with Indonesian partners. Matt asks, "What if NGOs didn't have to be the only ones with a license on nobility? Couldn't the perception of business be challenged if the maximization of impact was trumpeted above the maximization of profit? What kind of company could be created?" He joined LivFul to create this new type of company.
As a second-generation Latina, Rosa Cándida Ramírez spends her time at the intersection of immigration and worship. As a bi-vocational pastora, Rosa is the associate pastor of spiritual formation of La Fuente Ministries, an intercultural, intergenerational, and bilingual ministry in Pasadena, CA. Rosa is also part of the legal team of the Immigration Resource Center of San Gabriel Valley, where she serves as a Department of Justice-accredited representative, helping to provide quality low-cost immigration legal services for the community.
Vivian Gee is an impact strategist and philanthropy adviser who aligns business, funding, and social-sector interests globally. She has held leadership roles in corporate social responsibility, financial inclusion policy innovation, and international collaboration organizations, including the World Economic Forum. Vivian also serves as a board member, mentor, and consultant to social enterprises. Vivian holds an MBA from INSEAD, as well as BS and MS degrees from Stanford University. A global citizen at heart, she has lived and worked in eight countries across three continents.
Humans have been on the move for as long as we have existed, relocating from place to place in search of food, resources, and opportunity. The Bible is full of individuals and families who migrate to a new land in response to God’s call; their choice to leave behind the familiar and venture into the uncertain is an embodiment of remarkable faith and obedience. Jesus himself was a migrant: from heaven to earth at birth; from Palestine to Egypt and back again during childhood; and across Galilee and Judea, into Samaria, Perea, and other surrounding areas during his years of ministry.
Today, as many as 250 million people migrate internationally each year. In China alone, there are more than 150 million internal migrants, many of whom visit home each year for the Lunar New Year, making up the largest annual human migration on the planet.
Migration is a vast and complex topic, with no two migration stories alike. As such, we knew we could not address everything in one StoryArc. I want to acknowledge the vital importance of studying and understanding forced migration and militarized migration, including the transatlantic slave trade, modern human trafficking, imperial expansion, and colonialism. These encompass some of the greatest evils people have ever perpetrated against their fellow humans, and continue to drive grave injustices in the twenty-first century.
But much of today’s political, social, and religious tensions center on migration by choice, so that is the focus of the essays, art, poetry, interviews, and stories in this issue. We defined migration by choice to include refugees, who, while fleeing violence, persecution, natural disaster, or economic distress, may have some agency in when or where they choose to flee to.
How we as individuals, families, and communities respond to migration is grounded in our understanding of human history, culture, and the imago Dei in each of us. It speaks to our interpretation of God’s many exhortations to care for “the foreigner” among us. It forces us to grapple with deep-seated fears, prejudices, and beliefs about scarcity that we might not otherwise want to face.
To delve into the migrant experience is to walk as Jesus walked, and to be discipled in faith, generosity, empathy, and justice. No matter your family history, migration is intricately woven into the story of God’s people. Let’s learn together through this most human of experiences.