Missionary Scott Nicholson
Scott Nicholson is a Global Ministries (United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ) missionary who is blessed to serve with the Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (Home of Hope and Peace – HEPAC) community center and has recently become a mission partner of the Southwest Conference.
Scott is a witness to the impact of U.S. economic and immigration policies, and accompanies people that are impacted by those policies. He served previously for four years as a missionary in Colombia working with human rights organizations. Scott first traveled to Latin America in 1989 when he went to the Mesa Grande refugee camp in Honduras as people were preparing to return to El Salvador. He visited them four times in El Salvador during 1990 and 1991 - the last two years of the civil war. Those experiences transformed his life and set him on the path to becoming a missionary.
HEPAC is located just three miles south of the border wall that separates Nogales, Sonora from Nogales, Arizona. The vision of HEPAC is to create a healthy community in Sonora so that people don’t feel forced to risk arrest and death in the desert of southern Arizona in a desperate attempt to provide for their families. The programs include lunch for schoolchildren; adult education classes; Culture of Peace workshops that address trauma and violence, conflict resolution, and active non-violence; Kids Camps during school vacations; and a women’s cooperative that makes medallions to commemorate the migrants who have died in the desert.
Scott maintains a blog, posting reflections on the impact of the global corporate economy, militarization, and racism here in the Borderlands.
Visit Scott's blog - Border Journey: The heart of solidarity
Scott Nicholson may be contacted by email and phone: 520-907-0491 (U.S. cell phone that can receive calls in Mexico)
Hogar de Esperanza y Paz
Working to create a healthy community in Sonora
I’m blessed to be able to serve as a Global Ministries missionary with the Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (Home of Hope and Peace – HEPAC) community center. HEPAC is located just three miles south of the border wall that separates Nogales, Sonora from Nogales, Arizona. It’s an ideal place to witness the impact of U.S. economic and immigration policy, and to accompany the people that are affected by those policies. We’d love to have you visit us and allow your heart to be broken open by the beauty and suffering on this side of the wall.
Here in Nogales, garage door openers enjoy more freedom of movement than do people. The minimum wage is $5.40 per day and there are more than 90 assembly plants (the vast majority are subsidiaries of U.S. companies.) Chamberlain is the largest plant with over 3,000 employees. The garage door openers produced by those workers freely cross the border into the U.S. but the workers themselves are prohibited from crossing to seek better pay in Arizona (minimum wage: $7.80 per hour).
The vision of HEPAC is to create a healthy community here in Sonora so that people don’t feel forced to risk arrest and death in the desert of southern Arizona in a desperate attempt to provide for their families. The programs include:
- Nutrition for Education provides a healthy lunch for more than 100 schoolchildren from the most impoverished families in the community.
- Culture of Peace community workshops teach methods for healing from trauma and violence, resolving conflicts, and working non-violently for peace with justice.
- Kid’s Camps provide safe and educational activities during school vacation. The focus of the camps is “The Culture of Peace.”
- Adult Education is enabling 250 people to finish their elementary and high school education.
- The Women’s Cooperative creates beautiful copper medallions to commemorate the migrants who have died in the desert and to provide a source of income for the members of the cooperative.
The Tirabichi dump is less than a mile from HEPAC and we’ve started working more closely with the people that work and live there. They retrieve recyclable materials from the rubbish and we’ve seen cuts and infections from sharp objects encountered in the trash. We’ve provided work gloves and basic first aid supplies, and we’re encouraging the children and adults to participate in the programs at HEPAC.
I’m also a member of Samaritans and hike the migrant trails in the desert northwest of Nogales. We attempt to save lives by placing water and food alongside the trails, and providing aid for migrants in distress.
We also bring food and clothing to the San Juan Bosco shelter for deported migrants in Nogales. Araceli was in a wheelchair during my last visit to the shelter. She and her spouse had attempted to return to Denver - they lived there for six years and three of their children were born there. Araceli stepped between two rocks, fell, and broke both legs while crossing the desert. Tears were in her eyes from the dream that had been shattered along with her legs.
As members of the Southwest Conference, how are we called to follow the commandment of the migrant Jesus to “love your neighbor as yourself”? How does that also relate to Global Ministries’ mandate of Critical Presence, “Meeting God’s people and creation at the point of deepest need: spiritually, physically, emotionally, and/or economically”?
I would love to be able to visit your congregation and explore these questions together with you. You’re also very welcome to visit us here in Nogales and you will be greeted “con los brazos abiertos” (with open arms) at HEPAC.