Every year, tens of thousands of people pass through the Northwest Immigration Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, one of the largest in the country. The only thing they all have in common is that they’re being considered for deportation.
Immigrant detainees are vulnerable. There is a great need for care, community, and spiritual freedom.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detains people at the Detention Center for many reasons: sometimes they crossed borders illegally, sometimes they have committed a crime while in the US on a visa, and often their immigration status documentation contains errors. Detainees are sent to this facility from all over the country. Some stay in the center for only a few weeks, others up to several years. Some have been living in the US for years or even decades, and many are separated from families on the outside.
Volunteers from World Relief and local churches visit men and women at the Immigration Detention Center in Tacoma every Saturday and Sunday to coordinate services--listening, talking and praying with detainees eager for visitors. During a typical service, detainees attend a time of worship and Bible study with a team of volunteers from helping to interpret in various languages including Spanish, Russian, Mandarin and many others. Every week, the gospel is shared with hundreds for the first time, and many people respond by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Volunteers from local churches are trained to pray for and encourage fellow believers during their time in detention. They meet with or write letters to detainees to encourage them in their spiritual journey, and walk through the detention experience with them.
To more effectively minister to immigrant detainees, World Relief envisions:
A Bible and study materials for each new believer
A large, diverse group of volunteers to visit and disciple detainees
The local Church educated about immigration issues
Funding to equip the local Church and train volunteers