Speaker: Eric Iki, Pastor, Chatsworth West United Methodist Church
Describe your Mustard Seed Migration Grant project.
Eric Iki: So our project was that we opened our church to be a temporary relief shelter essentially, which is that we provided a place for migrant families who were coming across the border due to the end of Title 42. And we provided them with a safe place to sleep, a safe place to eat, a safe place to shower. If they needed other resources like clothing or hygiene kits, things like that, we provided it for them. And then we also provided financial assistance and help to get them onward transportations to their final destinations.
What impact do you hope your Mustard Seed Migration Grant will have in your community?
Eric Iki: Well, one of the things that we were able to do was that I did reach out to some of our folks in the neighborhood, people that are not affiliated with this church, on things like Facebook, just some contacts that I had, asking for help with donations of bedding, clothing, food as well. And so I hope that, you know, within the community that people kind of saw that this church is a church that wants to open up and help people that are in need.
Why is work with refugees and migrants an important ministry of the church?
Eric Iki: Well, for me as the pastor of this church, at Chatsworth West United Methodist Church, there are two things that really kind of drove me to wanting to do this ministry. And one of those is that, you know, the history of Japanese Americans in this nation is that we were othered, we were the strangers, that we, that my, you know, grandparents and great grandparents were forced to be in internment camps because of the way that they looked, because of their background. And that in the Bible, it tells us "to love the stranger, as you were once strangers in the land of Egypt." And that people that have been othered, people that have been strangers in this country, have a natural inclination to love on people, other refugees or migrants that are experiencing that otherness in this country. And so that's one of the reasons why we desperately needed to do a ministry like this.