CRC Pastor Banned from United States

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Rev. Augusto Liza, pastor of Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope) Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., left the United States to care for his ailing mother in Peru and was subsequently refused re-entry to the United States.

Liza came to the U.S. in 1996 to study at Calvin Theological Seminary, then was called by Westend CRC, Grand Rapids, to plant Paz y Esperanza. An attorney processed the paperwork for Liza to obtain a work visa. But when he left in 2004 to care for his mother, an error in his documentation surfaced when he tried to return. U.S. officials banned him from the country for 10 years.

Liza and his wife, Ching, worked for a time with a radio ministry in Quito, Ecuador, and now work with church planters in Brazil.

He still reports regularly on his work to Westend CRC, which continues to support him as a missionary, and Classis Grand Rapids North (a regional group of churches) has allowed him to maintain his ministerial credentials in the Christian Reformed Church.

In 2014, Liza may reapply for admission into the U.S. An embassy or consulate will then decide whether to accept that application. The Lizas say they have great hope for the continued success of their ministry in Brazil, though they wait on the Lord to know what the future will hold.

About the Author

Noah Kruis is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Grand Rapids East and Grand Rapids North.

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While in Grand Rapids, Augusto Liza worked hard and admirably among the disenfranchised Latino population, first at the food pantry at Eastern Avenue CRC, and then at Gold Avenue CRC. His multilingual skills enabled him to be a real and hands-on missionary pastor among the extremely diverse Latino population. I hope that church members are realizing that the U.S. is already a mission field; Grand Rapids is a mission field. If you don't believe me, look at the church (local congregations) in any given Sunday. Do they show the diversity depicted in the New Testament? Do they show the factual diversity of Grand Rapids? We need people like Augusto working in the mission fields of America.

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