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South Dakota Ministry Trains Immigrants for Pastoral Work

Ernesto Alfaro (left) with two other participants of the Timothy Leadership Training with New Roots Ministry
Ernesto Alfaro (left) with two other participants of the Timothy Leadership Training with New Roots Ministry
New Roots Ministry

In Sioux Falls, S.D., pastors and ministry leaders who have come to the U.S. as immigrants attend training sessions to better minister to their communities. New Roots Ministry hosts evening sessions of Timothy Leadership Training for immigrants like Ernesto Alfaro who also work full time.

“New Roots Ministry is very very good and excellent. It doesn’t matter your background, it gives you the skills to spread the gospel and talk to others about the Lord—getting people to learn more,” said Alfaro.

Alfaro learned about the pastoral training opportunity at Palabra Viva church in Sioux Falls, where he has served as an English-Spanish translator since 2001.

New Roots is valuable in a city like Sioux Falls where the Sioux Falls Multicultural Center reported in 2014 that there were residents from at least 101 countries and regions, and 137 languages and dialects are spoken. Founded in 2007 as a way to build a bridge between incoming immigrants and established Christian communities, New Roots is partially supported by regional ministry shares through Classis Iakota of the Christian Reformed Church.

“Most of [the participants] have been African—South Sudanese, Ethiopian, Congolese . . . and Bhutanese, Rwandan, Nepalese, and Hispanic. We can offer materials in other languages, but most of them do this in English,” said Fred Wilgenburg, director of New Roots.

After completing their training, many of these leaders continue working in their churches, communities, or nonprofits. Some bring the gospel back to their home countries.

“I am looking forward to teaching in the church—Sunday school, preaching, and working with New Roots Ministry outreach in spreading the gospel to commercial dairy farms,” said Alfaro.

New Roots Ministry trains at least five pastors during the season. Some participants use the training to become chaplains to day laborers on nearby farms. Other programs offered by New Roots include seminars on how to run nonprofit organizations, as well as All Nations City Church—a group of more than 100 people from different backgrounds who meet a few times during the year to worship together.

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