Companions (Compañeros) – A Story of Partnership

My name is Jeff Hornbeck, and as a member Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, I want to tell you a story about God’s love when a local family of six experienced tragedy. After 14 years of steady work with a major firm, ICE arrested the father for overstaying his visa. That’s when Catholic Charities got involved.
While he was detained, the family’s mobile home burned, and they had let their insurance expire due to lack of income. The family received critical financial support from the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ, where they are members. But more help was needed. The staff at Catholic Charities called me, as they do periodically because I speak Spanish and spent my life working in and on Latin America They needed help cleaning up and assessing the fire damage, so I put together a group of men all over the age of sixty.
We suspected the trailer was a complete loss, but there was still a tremendous amount of cleanup and recovery work. The family had no tools, no idea what to do and no way to communicate and determine next steps. We were not going to rebuild the trailer or drastically alter the reality of the day, but we stayed, listened, cleaned, and offered solace.
My companions had the wisdom and compassion to listen and proceed gently, particularly with the difficult mission of conveying an absolute truth. This trailer was not going to be rebuilt by good intentions.
We all suffered as the whole family gazed with us at the burnt remains of home, furniture, appliances, electronics, toys and clothes. Convincing someone facing tragedy to move on is not easy. Helping the family face the truth that not only necessary to move on but to also begin the healing process.
But not all was lost, because where two or three were gathered, even more showed up. From Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, Chris Madeo put the Refugee and Immigration Committee to work. He and I delivered items and food from Catholic Charities and helped the family with clothes shopping. The father is back to work at his old job, and the family has a roof over its head, food to eat, new clothes and hope.
We are now exploring a more structured relationship with Catholic Charities for future endeavors, which we expect will grow given current attitudes and policies about and toward immigrants.
Patience and love poured out to change a tragic situation. It poured out at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, Catholic Charities and the LDS Church. In this case, where two or three groups of faith with very different faith traditions, were gathered in Jesus’ name, common ground was found without hesitation and small miracles occurred.

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