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Look Who's a Citizen!
We celebrate with Gino Romano, who was sworn in as a US citizen on Friday, January 3, in Montgomery.   

Gino is from Peru.  In 2000, his former bosses said they would sponsor him and his family to come to the States.  He worked on the process for two years, and entered the US in 2002 on a working visa. He was able to renew this visa after 4 years, and keep it for 8 years.  Then, in 2010, he applied for residency.  For 3 years, while he was waiting for the residency to be approved, he was in, what he called, a grey area.  “For 3 years I had to reply every year for an extension,” he said.  “It was really scary because if I missed anything, I would have had to return to Peru and do it from there.  One time I had to work 7 jobs just to make the money and support my family.”

Finally, in 2013, Gino got his green card.  Then he had to wait to become eligible for citizenship.  In 2018, he became eligible, but it took until 2019 for him to come up with the funds to apply. 

What happened next was a true miracle for Gino.  In June of 2019, he applied to be a citizen.  With the current political climate, he was anticipating that it would be a lengthy process to be approved.  The government received his application in on July 14th and said it would take 8 months to review it.  But on July 20, Gino got the appointment to go to Birmingham for his next step.  After that, again, they told him it would be 8 months.  On August 6, he received the notification that he would take the test.  Once more, it would be 8 months.  On November 12, they scheduled the test.  They said to give them 3 months.  But on December 18th he received the notification to get the test.  That cleared the way and on January 3rd he went to government offices in Montgomery, and was sworn in as a citizen!!

“In many stages of my journey I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Gino.  “Besides all the money I pinned on this, it was not easy.  The only motivation was my kids.  They were born here.  I wanted better chances for them to continue here rather than return to Peru.”

Now, Gino is full of hope for his children, and for his own future.  “This means that first of all I can do what I always wanted to do, be part of my community,” he said.  “I can vote and participate in local activities. Another blessing is that I can bring my adoptive daughters to the country.  Also, as a citizen, I am able to invest.  If I want to start a business, I can give job opportunities.”

Gino sees that his commitment to Christ was integral to the process.  “All along, the Lord had a plan. Since I got baptized, it has been like a journey. The Lord has transformed me on a daily basis, showing me how I need to approach things and how I need to see my life with him.  That has been very, very encouraging. There’s nothing impossible for the Lord.  Nothing.  We need to be obedient in the ups and downs, to hope and don’t’ get distracted by the storms of life,  My encouragement to others is to not take for granted where they are or what they have, but to always find a meaning of how we can serve the Lord where we are, and not to be afraid, because he got us, like he got me.”
Diversity Weekend
The North River Church of Christ is hosting a diversity event, "All Things to All People," on MLK Weekend, Jan. 18-19, featuring Michael and MyCresha Burns.  Michael has done over 70 workshops around the world on culture, race, and the Kingdom of God.  He is also the author of 12 books, including Crossing the Line: Culture, Race, and Kingdom and All Things to All People: The Power of Cultural Humility.

Saturday's worshop topics are listed below.
 Session 1: 10am-10:45am - Cultural Humility and the Kingdom of God
 Session 2: 11:00am-11:45pm - Racial Identity and the Kingdom of God
 Session 3: 1pm - 2:00pm - Humble Conversations
Your contributions receipt for 2019 was emailed to you on Janaury 9. If you did not receive it, and need a statement, see Kat Watson.
Wasn't it great to be all back together on Sunday?
Timira Taylor did such a great job on this video of our Christmas Gathering!

January 11- Gathering at VFW, 10 AM
Jan. 18-19 - Diversity Workshop at North River, featuring Michael Burns.
Jan. 19 - Lord's Supper Meal
Feb. 14-16 - Atlanta Metro Singles Weekend 

Giving on Dec. 29 was $770
Giving on Jan. 5 was $1886 

Minimum Operating Budget: $2100
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