O N – G O I N G
ACCOMPANIMENT. This unique form of ministry recognizes that simply being present with the oppressed and marginalized is a prophetic and transformative act. Walking alongside someone in a consumer, employment, housing, legal, or medical crisis and remaining with them until the crisis is resolved is a way of building empathy and calling the powerful to repentance.
ADVOCACY. Local policies and state and federal laws must be challenged when they are unjust. Alterna engages with government officials in order to advocate for laws and policies that better reflect the values of the reign of God.
CONSULTATION and TRAINING. Alterna receives regular requests from churches, schools and other organizations and institutions to provide experiences that develop cultural competency and foster hope in the midst of this immigration “debate”. Some of our most frequent offerings include:
- “Be the Visitor” – A group screens the movie “The Visitor” and then members of Alterna coordinate a visitation of immigrants detained at the Stewart Detention Center.
- “Border Crossings” – Local immigrants share first-person stories designed to put a human face to the plight and resilience of migrants. A meal is often prepared by local immigrants as well.
- Lectures and workshops on related topics.
COURT MONITORING. Members of Alterna regularly monitor LaGrange Municipal Court and Troup County State Court. Alterna documents any disparity and seeks to reduce such injustices by offering feedback to court officials, partnering with public defenders, and accompanying immigrants in what can be a very intimidating arena.
DETENTION and JAIL MINISTRY. This ministry has two main foci:
- Immigrant detention – Alterna is a charter member of the Georgia Detention Watch. Georgia Detention Watch (GDW) is a coalition of organizations and individuals that advocates alongside immigrants to end the inhumane and unjust detention and law enforcement policies and practices directed against immigrant communities in our state. Our coalition includes activists, community organizers, persons of faith, lawyers, and many more. As a member of GDW, Alterna is the lead organizer around the Stewart Detention Center, the largest immigration detention facility in the United States, owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America.
- Local jail detention – On a weekly basis, members of Alterna facilitate a liberating Spanish-language Bible study at the Troup County Jail. Beyond studying Scripture, Alterna also offers holistic services by advocating on their behalf for due process and equitable treatment under the law.
HOSPITALITY. Alterna regularly hosts visitors and overnight guests. Some guests arrive because they want to learn more about Alterna, others are immigrants in an acute crisis. Whatever the reason, we strive to welcome guests as though they were Christ in disguise.
- A community garden that serves not only as a food source but as a learning plot.
- The gifting of chicken coops and chickens to local immigrant families who then pass the gift of eggs along to others.
SCHOOL-BASED SERVICES. Alterna has a full-time teacher in one local public school and has had Mission Year interns at other local schools. Alterna strives to help assess and meet the needs of Latino immigrant students. We serve as a bridge builder between the home and school by hosting Spanish-language parent/school meetings and other related services.
S E A S O N A L
THREE KINGS’ DAY CELEBRATION (first week in January). Also known as Epiphany, Three Kings’ Day is a very important religious day in Latin America. This day celebrates the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ when he was visited by the Three Magi. Our celebration usually consists of food, games, and a visitation of the three kings who then distribute gifts to all the scores of children in attendance. Additionally, Alterna uses this community gathering to award its highest honor, The Epiphany Award, to someone in the broader community who has demonstrated a just welcome to Latino immigrants. Past recipients include:
PILGRIMAGE FOR IMMIGRANTS (Holy Week). Since 2009, this annual pilgrimage has drawn an average of 1000 faithful pilgrims united in a prayerful walk of solidarity with immigrants. This “prayer with feet” intentionally coincides with the week when we remember the unjust sufferings of Jesus Christ. The pilgrimage calls for a process for all immigrant workers and their families already in the U.S. to earn citizenship upon satisfaction of specific criteria, an expansion of legal avenues for workers and families to enter our country and work in a safe and legal manner with their rights and due process fully protected, enforcement initiatives that are consistent with humanitarian values, and solutions to address the root causes of migration, such as economic disparities between sending and receiving nations.
KIDNEY SCREENINGS (September). One of Alterna’s co-founders is an uninsured immigrant who depends on dialysis services for sustenance. Consequently, this wounded healer helps recruit local immigrants for an annual kidney screening sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation.