An Amazing Learning Experience: Chicano Church Service
Mar 20, 2012 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 2 Comments
This last Sunday, March 18th, I attended a Chicano church here in metro-Denver. The demographic were mostly poor folk, some young families, and a number that had been involved in drugs and had been in jail.
This Chicano experience was new to me. We had been members of a church in Guatemala for many years before coming to Denver, and here I attend an Hispanic immigrant church. I had been told that the Chicano culture was different than the Latin American immigrants’ and that, in many ways, the Chicano population—especially the poor Chicano--was one of the forgotten groups in this country… forgotten between all the attention given to the immigrant issues and those of the Chicano population that had risen above poverty and were experiencing some financial and social success.
What an amazing church service! It was so very unlike my immigrant church in so many ways. For instance, all kinds of Hispanic surnames, but everything was in English. The pulpit time was given to a man who by the age of ten was selling drugs on the street. He had been wonderfully converted and now had a wife and daughter. A boy (11-12 years old?) rapped a song about how life on the street had no point, and the congregation praised the Lord for a woman who had been clean from drugs for six months. I talked to her after the service: She had almost died one night from an overdose; her boyfriend did not make it. Her baby daughter had been taken away by social services, but this last week she had been able to bring her home. Another man had been shot ten times in Juárez on the border by a drug cartel, had lost an eye, and his left arm was left shattered. He was able to seek asylum in this country, had come to Denver, and had come to faith in the church… as we spoke after the service he shared with me how his life had changed and how on Tuesdays he goes out with other church members to evangelize.
I could go on with more stories I heard. Amazing all. The service closed with leaders standing in the front of the church, receiving members going forward for prayer. A powerful end of a Spirit-filled morning.
I left that church blessed beyond any expectations I might have had, when I walked in a couple of hours before. I saw more clearly the face of the Chicano and sensed how wide the divide was between two cultures—the Chicano and the immigrant—who share some common roots of language, values, and customs. Here is another challenge for those of us working on immigration reform: How do we facilitate communication, and reconciliation if need be, between the Chicano and the Hispanic immigrant? What a blessing, what a need, another road to explore…