by Noel Santiago, Leadership Minister
Today’s world provides us many opportunities to witness. From sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to serving, giving, and being present, the Holy Spirit empowers us.
Iglesia Nueva Vida Norristown (PA) New Life Church (NVNNL) sees itself as a witness through the work of their Photo ID clinic. NVNNL received a conference Missional Operation Grant to empower their work. Here is their report of the work:
1. What went well?
Our photo ID clinic in February was hugely successful. Fourteen volunteers assisted 58 persons who were seeking assistance to renew expired photo IDs, replace lost/stolen photo IDs, and obtain birth certificates and Social Security cards necessary to apply for photo IDs. People were grateful and relieved to finally resolve the challenges of their identity documents.
The clinics are a wonderful opportunity to share God’s love and bounty with folks who are struggling in poverty and the harsh realities of illnesses and homelessness. Our church continues to be an example of “true evangelical faith” as we engage with our community.
2. What new opportunities did you discover?
The COVID-19 shutdown affected our plans for a clinic in May because state offices were closed and we could not host a large group of people. We continued to serve a few people on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile, conversations earlier in the year with the director of the Hospitality Center (a day shelter for persons experiencing homelessness in Norristown and a ministry of the Norristown Ministerium) began to bear fruit. This summer, we formed a new partnership with the Hospitality Center to host our next two clinics outdoors in a way that battles both poverty and the coronavirus. We do not want to miss the blessing of sharing with our neighbors in need.
3. Share a story that inspired you.
One man was so thrilled to finally be able to get an updated photo ID. He had fallen on some hard times and spent some time in prison. He is trained as a restaurant cook and had a job waiting for him if he could just get his ID. When NVNNL hosts fellowship meals again, he wants to come and cook for us.
Most of us have no idea of the difficulties faced by not having a plastic card with our picture and personal information on it. Having a state-issued photo ID unlocks so many doors. It is a tremendous relief for those who cannot afford the fees or figure out how to navigate the system.
Many of our clients recognize this as a gift from God and our church. We often encourage people to explore their relationship with God, and invitations to engage with our congregation are always given.
Jesus was once asked if the people should pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus asked for a coin and was given a denarius. He then asked whose image was on it? They responded, “Caesar’s.” Jesus then stated, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:15-17, NIV)
The next question that could have been asked is, “What belongs to God?” A further question would be, “Whose image is on you?”
As NVNNL works at providing “a plastic card with their picture and personal information on it,” we are all called to remember that it is the image and likeness of God that is imprinted on each human and therefore worthy of dignity and respect.
May we continue to bear witness to this truth so that our communities and world will know and experience the good news of God’s love in Jesus.