Luis and Anita have a business in Mesa, Arizona. In order to serve God and others, they adjust their business hours of operations to fit the needs of their Wesleyan church community.

As you may know, thousands of people enter the country looking for a better life. Luis and Anita are present every Wednesday at Iglesia Cristiana El Buen Pastor in Mesa to help Pastor Hector and Cecilia serve, impact and love the immigrant community. They help with anything needed on that day from singing, serving meals for those who are hungry or organizing donations. Both do this because they understand what each immigrant may be going through as they are far away from family. Luis and Anita also know that God called them to do so. They serve alongside the broader church family.

Why do I say expanding la familia?

In the beginning of creation, God saw the need for Adam to have company. God decided that Adam needed a wife to help him and to be his companion. “The LORD God said, ’It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18).

God decided that Adam should not live alone and the first commandment God gave to Adam and his wife was to have children (Genesis 1:28).

The ideal family relationship is one in which the parents give loving care and a child in turn gives honor to the parents through loving obedience. This was the relationship Adam and Eve had with God. God provided for them and they obeyed the Lord — honoring him. It was the way God created things to be.

In the Hispanic community, family continues to be held high as it occupies a particularly significant and central role in people’s lives. The concept of family extends beyond just immediate relatives to include a broader network of extended family members, close friends and even coworkers. For Latinos, family is viewed as the cornerstone of social support, cultural identity and emotional well-being.

When it comes to the church, the body of Christ has historically been seen through the lens of family. God calls us to gather, mingle and enjoy each other’s company as often as possible. Great things take place when a group of people come together. In Acts 2:46, the first church looked more like a family dynamic than the often ritualistic and stuffy idea that it became in the centuries that followed. The church was meant to follow Jesus in family.


Today, more than ever, the need for family is critical. After a pandemic, our communities slowed down gathering in groups but the need for family never stopped. Deep within us is the call for social interaction, for more bonding and opportunities to meet. This isn’t just cultural it is also contextual.

We in the Hispanic community have been separated and splintered as we have had to leave family members back in our native countries. It is no surprise to hear of Hispanic churches gathering three or four times a week. Our churches, in fact, fill the vacuum of family, as we gather to pray, worship, eat, celebrate and do life together.

I guess if this wasn’t such a big deal maybe we could pass on it. But the numbers are staggering. Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. This group is hungry for relationships and emotional support that only a family can provide. That family is the church.

According to the Latino Policy & Politics Institute[1]:

  • The U.S. Latino population reached 62.5 million in 2021, accounting for 19% of the U.S. population — up from 13% in 2000.
  • Latinos have been the largest contributor to U.S. population growth, accounting for54% of the growth.

According to UnidosUS[2] in Chicago:

  • 65% — The labor force participation rate of Latinos, among the highest of any race or ethnicity,
  • 1/5 by 2024 — 1 in 5 workers will be Latino.

This month we get to celebrate Hispanic heritage in the U.S. and our churches will continue to do the same. Since our number one job is to make disciples, we should consider this amazing opportunity at our doorstep. We need to create space for the Hispanics to feel welcome in the church family.

Where we begin doesn’t have to be that far away. Hispanics work among us. Eat their meals in the same breakrooms that we do. Their children are integrating into the social fabric of our schools and on our kids’ sports teams. They shop where we shop. But they often go home never feeling invited in.

The church is ripe to fulfill its mission in this arena because it relates more to family than any other organization on earth. I’ve heard it said that for the church to be the church, then we need to go outside the walls of the church. I think, at least with our Hispanic population, they are longing to be invited into the family.

Rev. Arlynn Ellis is the assistant district superintendent of the Mountain Plains District of The Wesleyan Church.