By Adriana Celis
The small city of San Juan, Texas, is characterized by winters that are not as harsh as other cities, such as those in the northern United States. The summers, on the other hand, usually reach severe temperatures. The sunsets look like painted canvases against the sky, forming silhouettes with a range of pastel colors. The city in Hidalgo County, Texas, also is home to Iglesia Buenas Nuevas (Good News Mennonite Church).
Active multicultural community
Iglesia Buenas Nuevas is an active and multicultural community. In keeping with the church’s name, Good News, the congregants seek to positively impact the lives of San Juan’s residents. Established in the mid-80s, Iglesia Buenas Nuevas has been more than a church; it has been a home for Caucasian, Latino and African American people who seek to promote the kingdom of God. And it is this element, rich in its cultural diversity, that makes it a dynamic community.
In an interview for MenoTicias, Pastor Ulises Arenas-Goossen shared his experience working with a Mennonite faith community that is active in social services and seeks to demonstrate the principles and values of its confession of faith, rooted in the Anabaptist theology of peace, justice and reconciliation.
A good example for San Juan residents
“For us, as a community of faith,” said Arenas-Goossen “it is very important to be a good example for the residents of San Juan. We manifest Jesus’ good news through our actions, such as meeting together to share — now virtually, due to the pandemic — with the purpose of knowing each person’s needs first-hand, like a big family.”
Our community has experienced terrible times
“Another point to highlight,” said Arenas-Goossen, “is the continuation of carrying out biblical discipleship, since it is this act that forms good biblical foundations in the people of the congregation. The congregants support, through constant prayer and financial aid, the people of our community who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many people in our community have experienced terrible situations, such as being seriously ill with cancer and not being given a definite answer. It is difficult, but it is in those moments that we look to God to give us the answers that we cannot find with our own strength.”
Read more: Think “más allá” (deeper) about the immigrants in your midst By Ulises Arenas