• Rev. Carrie Cesar

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

The Guest House is a new ministry in the process of being developed at Victorville United Methodist Church. Our Guest House ministry is funded and supported by a grant from our California Pacific Annual Conference and a grant from the General Board of Global Ministry. The Guest House is revitalizing the way we do church. We are updating and re-purposing a whole wing of church rooms that have not been used in a decade. At the same time, we are renovating the meaning of discipleship, bringing it alive and creating exciting new opportunities to be active disciples right here at our church. What a concept: Church as Guest House! This is a dynamic and growing ministry we can be thankful for on many levels. The Guest House ministry is preparing to welcome refugees and asylum seekers and work with them, their families and our partner agencies as a circle of resources to help alleviate the harm that comes with any personal immigration crisis. And every immigration situation is personal because it involves the future of the lives of individuals and families who have been forced to move here. I know this because I have lived it. Immigration is a personal issue, not an abstract concept to complain about for anyone not familiar with all that is involved in this kind of move. Everyone facing this situation needs to be embraced with a ministry like the Guest House. The Guest House is an opportunity for our church leaders and members, allowing us to engage with our local community in a way that serves the needs of others. It is allowing us all to give spiritual, emotional, physical and mental space to being disciples in our neighborhood. Because of the Guest House ministry we are getting to know new people and finding ways to be in service with them and others. The Guest House is also an opportunity for the sustainability of our church, bringing much- needed income through the use of our rooms that allows us to upgrade and renovate our buildings. The circle of resources from our church and partners includes short term housing, a food and clothing bank, laundry service, and several other program activities that our church members are already providing. Our community outreach and witness ministries include music classes, play time, Bible studies, a coffee house, sports activities, sewing and crafts, workshops on a variety of relevant topics, youth ministry, camping ministry, Messy Church, and even the simple conversation corners we’ve set up around our hallways for fellowship and building healthy relationships. We accomplish far more than any one church can do alone by forming partnerships with like-minded agencies, cooperating and organizing together so we can address the complicated immigration situation we all face as a community. This is a much more integrated way to be in ministry. We are living out our faith by loving our neighbors as ourselves. We see needs and issues, then work on ways to solve them as a “Good Samaritan” way of living our faith. We bring our church into the community by being a vital and active part of it. How? By opening our doors to the ministry around immigration. We use our facility, our expertise and our love to be a safe place on the journey to a more sustainable and permanent living situation for struggling families. We’re in the struggle together with them, and that is where we find God at work, too. In God’s Grace, Pastor Carrie Cesar

  • Gary White

As we develop and focus our outreach into the community of recent immigrants and asylum seekers in our area, we're excited to share that The Guest House has been officially designated as a Welcome Center for unaccompanied migrant children. The designation comes through a ministry of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church called “You Are Not Alone/No Estan Solos”. The “You Are Not Alone” program was established by the Conference in 2014 as a response to the many unaccompanied minors being sent north by their parents to escape gang violence in their home countries of Central America. Once in the U.S., the youngsters are put into our immigration system, given paperwork as refugees seeking asylum, and released into communities where primarily church-based agencies seek to care for them. These unaccompanied minors can be as young as eight years old. Rev. David Farley is the Director of Cal-Pac’s Justice and Compassion Ministries, which oversees the “You Are Not Alone” program’s retreats, camps, and church-based Welcome Centers established to minister to the young immigrants. As Rev. Farley recently shared, the church’s compassionate support is needed now more than ever. “It is crucial to continue and grow this ministry in these times of increased cruelty, when families are being separated or being incarcerated with their children, when children like these and their families are criminalized for seeking asylum, and being sent back to the violence from which they have fled. We give thanks to God that we have this program in place at this crucial time.” Rev. Farley and The Guest House staff are now in the process of planning our participation in the “You Are Not Alone” program. In the foreseeable future we hope to host a camp or retreat at our facility, and as a Welcome Center, to offer follow-up support to the young participants in this wonderful program. We are honored, challenged and grateful to be part

of it!

  • Rev. Carrie Cesar

Faith is a welcome gift from us to God our Savior and Redeemer. We welcome God into our lives, and the gift we give becomes a gift returned to us many times over. This is the simple way faith works. Simple and yet profound in the same gift. As we lean into a life of welcome with God, we learn to protect the “pearls of great price” by living the welcome every day in the way we think, the way we speak, the way we feel and the way we act. Welcome is “Shalom”, the tried-and-true way our beliefs are recognized by God as our key to the Kingdom. We are charged with this welcome in the way we live, in the way we open ourselves to the strangers entering our world, our lives, our churches and our homes. To welcome a stranger into our sacred space is only possible through the faith in Christ that sets us free. When we are faithfully open to living God’s spirit of welcome in our daily lives, we are open and welcome to the spirit of God working in our lives in unexpected ways. Finding a pearl of great value is as simple as finding a way to help a family member flee violence and harm. To welcome them in safety and care for them, is to live in faith and bring justice into God’s kingdom. Our Savior was born to set people free. He was born into a world full of evil and powers of destruction, yet He came to free us from the evil that can trap us into believing freedom isn’t for everyone. The key to this freedom is a solid belief in living God’s welcome in your life. Just as Jesus lived a life of welcome to all people and allowed them to be empowered and set free, we too have opportunities to live that life He modeled for us. We first need to find, in our core, the peace of knowing welcome is in control. Jesus sent His disciples out in twos to find the people of peace who would be the foundation of His movement. Jesus’ movement is one that helps us live lives looking towards faithful freedom in God’s Kingdom. Not everyone has this peace in their core. Those that do, recognize others that do, too. The practice of knowing peace when you encounter it in someone, and knowing how to work together in releasing its power, is a matter of building faith in the body of Christ. Our Guest House ministry has this power, to release the captives and to set them free to live the life God meant them to live. It has the power to set us free to be the disciples and “people of peace” that God is so in need of, to lead His people now and always into the promised land. The Guest House ministry is a step towards the promised land and the freedom we all seek in the faith we live.


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