Sometimes, God’s call to ministry is a call to cross an ocean.
When Ji-a and Jung* boarded a plane with their two toddlers, they couldn’t see the fullness of God’s plan. They only knew that attending seminary in the United States was a door to their future ministry.
They overcame the disorientation of raising a family and attending school in a new culture. They found community in their local Disciples of Christ church, where they led the music and children’s ministries.
The family had been in the States for more than ten years--and worked through multiple degree programs-- when Ji-a got a notice from the government saying there was an issue with her immigration status. It was confusing because she had always tried to do everything exactly right, knowing that her whole family’s immigration status was contingent upon hers.
She didn’t know that, months before, her school had made a technical error with her paperwork. That mistake, which was no fault of her own, threatened her family’s future in the United States. It also threatened to end their ministry here.
At this point Ji-a contacted Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel, a ministry of Disciples Home Missions in partnership with Week of Compassion. Over the next several months the Disciples immigration lawyer represented her before the Department of Homeland Security to file for reinstatement. The children—now in middle school and high school, having lived here for as long as they could remember—continued their band practice and soccer matches under the cloud of possibly having to leave the country. It was a stressful time for the whole family.
Finally the notice came, granting the family more time in the U.S. and allowing Ji-a to finish her Master of Divinity degree. Ji-a was overjoyed because, as she said, “I know I need to learn more [of] the Bible to provide my loved ones in Christ with the power and wisdom of God’s Word.” Ji-a and Jung know they are where God has called them to be right now.
Like most immigrants, Ji-a and Jung face ongoing challenges. A student visa is always temporary, making status tenuous even if they’ve been here raising a family for years. Now that they have completed school, the couple is seeking a call so they can apply for a work visa. The search and call process is stressful for anyone finishing seminary and beginning ministry. But for international students, there is much more at stake. Their ability to stay in the country is dependent upon them receiving a call to a church that is willing to engage in the immigration process on their behalf.
Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel walks with families through this process long-term, even as they face transitions and changes in status.
Your generosity makes it possible for Disciples leaders like Jung and Ji-a to live into their calling. Your Week of Compassion offerings do More Than We Can Imagine.
*Names changed to protect confidentiality