Until the CRC is a Home for All: Viviana Cornejo

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I met the CRCNA in July 1997 when I began working for Christian Reformed Home Missions (now Resonate). I started with the Hispanic Ministry; Gary Teja was my supervisor and also a mentor in understanding how the CRCNA functions. Everything was new for me: the language, the names, the places, the way of doing things, the culture, the amount of paper and meetings. I was about to quit because I felt overwhelmed by it all, but my stubbornness didn’t allow me to quit, and I’m grateful for that.

Everything was new for me: the language, the names, the places, the way of doing things, the culture, the amount of paper and meetings.

Through the thirteen years I worked with Home Missions I had the privilege of meeting many people and their ministries. I never thought I was going to meet so many different Latino people. We have a common language but there are many differences from one Latino culture to another, like idioms, food, expressions, music, and other things. I also met SEAPI not knowing what the letters stand for (South-east Asian and Pacific Islander churches). That came later. For me they were Cambodian, Laotians, Samoan, Vietnamese, and Filipino pastors and leaders and I just wanted to hear their stories. I also had the privilege of meeting the Black and Urban ministries, participating at their conferences, and making new friends who allowed me to hear stories of generational suffering and struggles.

I’m humbly grateful for being able to form the Hispanic Catalyst Team and being the fire to prepare the road. We now have the Consejo Latino of the CRCNA, a group of pastors and leaders who are diverse in gender and age, from different regions, leading the Latino Ministry. There are several members who are new to this team, and those of us who were part of the Catalyst Team are stepping back so new leadership can step in.

One day I participated in the Crossroads anti-racism training, and it was the missing piece for me. Crossroads is a ministry that the CRC was working with to create awareness and learning on racism and reconciliation, and their training was shocking but helpful. Finally I was starting to understand the confusion and nonsense I was seeing at work and in ministries.

Suddenly stories of discrimination and difficulty that I knew from friends, coworkers, acquaintances, brothers, and sisters were put into their historical context through my reading and studying.

Two things were (and are) the fuel for my learning: history and justice. I wanted to be actively involved with the Office of Race Relations, but it wasn’t the time yet for me. In the meantime I participated in workshops, lectures, conferences, watched documentaries and movies, and my personal library grew. My reading time took every free minute and hour that I was able to get. The dots were being connected for me. Suddenly stories of discrimination and difficulty that I knew from friends, coworkers, acquaintances, brothers, and sisters were put into their historical context through my reading and studying. My life was changed. Some may say I was converted again! Months later I moved from Home Missions to Race Relations. Through my current position I have had the honor of meeting many Native Americans in ministry. I have made new friends that have opened their arms to this Chilean woman. The history and horrors that have happened to Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island is difficult to understand. It is difficult to make sense of it.

The Christian Reformed Church has been a blessing for me in many ways. When I moved to U.S. in 1995 I never thought I was going to minister in this denomination. But God knew what was deep in my heart. I only had a vague idea of what could be, but He knew. He knew that this was going to be the place for my learning, growth, and using the capacities and abilities He gave me.

My prayer is that the CRC more and more can become a home for many that are still looking for a home.

My prayer is that the CRC more and more can become a home for many that are still looking for a home, a home for people who are looking to be embraced and accepted just as they are, just as the Lord embraces and accepts them. I pray that the CRC can be a place where we can openly talk about the mistakes and errors of the past, knowing that He already died for all those errors and mistakes so that true reconciliation can happen. 

We're marking Hispanic Heritage Month with a series about Hispanic leaders from diverse Hispanic nations in the CRC. This is the fifth post in the series. We've also celebrated Rev. Edwin OlguinRev. Harold Caicido, Rev. Jose Rayas, and Rev. Pedro Aviles. 

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