In the heart of the densely-packed, multicultural mosaic of Jersey City, a pastor’s heart beats for the people he serves.
“Jersey City has so many different nationalities,” said Pastor Jose Vazquez, who leads the Jersey City Mission Church, a Home Missions partner ministry.
Currently the church reaches out to Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Honduras, Peru, and Mexico. The challenges of the neighborhood are vast and include unemployment and poverty.
Jersey City Mission Church tries to provide some practical as well as spiritual relief.
“We have ‘free markets’ in the summer, where we give away shoes and used clothes,” said Vazquez. “We also sell appliances for a very low price or give them away if needed.”
Recently the church was able to assist a young, pregnant woman in dire need. “She was having a baby and had nothing—no crib or stroller or anything. She is a recent immigrant from Mexico with no job, no food, no money, and no papers. With no papers, it’s very hard to find a job.”
The church took up a collection, and Vazquez and other church members helped round up baby supplies and equipment.
Jersey City Mission also ministers to those who are desperate for emotional healing. Recently, they launched a counseling ministry. “The need is spiritual,” said Vazquez. “When people are abused, they carry that all their lives and they can’t let go.”
A young girl recently came to Vazquez for help. “Someone had tried to rape her, and she was struggling with nightmares.”
Pastor Jose is trying to find qualified counselors to help treat this girl and others who have unseen wounds.
Vazquez emphasizes that emotional healing is a big concern for his church. “We have to take care of that first,” he says, adding that freedom can only come after emotional healing.