The name of our friend has purposely been changed and the name of his home country omitted for the safety of him and his family.
I met Pacifico five years ago while volunteering at the COTS Day Station, a warm place for people to come off the streets during Vermont’s frigid winters. Kate, the peppiest of the COTS case managers, walked in the room and shouted, “Kevin you’re like a minister- right?” I quickly walked over and she continued, “I have this guy who just arrived in my office. He’s a pastor from Africa and doesn’t speak any English. Can you try to figure out his situation?” And for the better part of an hour we used the modern miracle of Google translator to type between English and French.
I’ve heard similar stories before. Christians arrested for proclaiming Jesus in a region where persecution is real. Sentenced to prison, then death, without a trial due to being from the wrong religion or ethnicity. Only Pacifico’s story had a twist. The soldiers assigned to kill him had a moral dilemma. Something in their moral compass informed them this was the wrong decision, so they released him on one condition: run and don’t come back. Pacifico ran for his life, knowing if he returned to family and friends that his very presence would certainly place their lives in danger. He ran for his life knowing he was leaving behind some of the most precious blessings in his life: his wife and two young daughters.
I assumed the interaction with Pacifico would be momentary and his path would take him elsewhere. Realistically, Burlington, VT is not the typical landing spot for persecuted pastors. God’s plans were different, because for the past five years I have crossed paths with Pacifico at least once every month. Every time we meet we embrace and pray together for God to protect his family, for God to bring them back together, and for God to give Pacifico peace throughout the process. I believe in the power of prayer, but I often find myself wondering if there is something tangible I could to bless this friend and brother in Jesus- until now.
Over these past five years, both Pacifico and various case workers provided me with snapshots of the grueling process he went through with his family: locating them, reconnecting, communicating, beginning the long process of trying to reunite, navigating immigration bureaucracy, hitting dead ends and detours. I have never met anyone with such patience, persistence, and hope-filled peace, and now after five years he’s on the verge of seeing the answer to his prayers: his wife and children are finally coming to America.
Pacifico has lived for these past years in the Anew Place shelter while working long hours so he could send money to his family and save every available penny to bring them here. The costs are significant: $4000 for plane tickets, $650 in remaining visa costs, and the anticipated $2500 “down payment” for a local apartment. My goal is simple: raise enough money to help bring this Christian brother’s family home to see their father.
$5000 will provide the money needed to transport his family to Burlington, while allowing Pacifico to focus on making a new home for his family here. If you’re interested in making a donation, make checks out to Burlington City Church and write “pacifico” in the memo line.
If you’re part of Burlington City Church, you can drop checks in our Sunday offering basket. If not, mail them to 49 Janet Circle, Burlington, VT 05408.