The man with the giant zucchini squash on his desk is Mesgana Morris.  Mesgana bought that squash at a roadside vegetable stand because it was unique and different and stood out from all the other zucchinis around it.  That’s the kind of person Mesgana is.  He is attracted to, and has a heart for, the new, unique, and different—especially for people who are new, unique, and different.  Which is why he works for POBLO

POBLO, for those of you who don’t know, stands for People Of The Book Lutheran Outreach.  As explained on their website: “POBLO International Ministries is a mission movement which trains and sends ethnic missionaries to minister in partnership with congregations desiring to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to new Americans. POBLO has trained and sent over 100 ethnic missionaries to work in the U.S. and foreign mission fields since it began in 1993. POBLO workers are also gifted to share Christ with new Americans in their own language. All ministries are carried out through one-on-one relationships which are often begun through human care outreach. POBLO’s human care outreach programs include English classes, citizenship classes, sewing classes, student tutoring, refugee resettlement, and clothing, food, and furniture distribution. Hospitality and friendship are powerful expressions of Christ’s love which underlie the entire ministry. Love is the basis through which American and ethnic Christians develop relationships of trust so that they can share the Gospel naturally with their ethnic neighbors.”

Because I am the new “missions guy” in our District and I want to personally meet all of our District missionaries, I spent time this past week visiting with and getting to know our POBLO missionaries in Rochester, Minnesota.  They are: Mesgana Morris and John Gayed.  These men are dedicated servants of God who are working hard to reach out to the immigrant population of Rochester (primarily made up of immigrants from Somalia) with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is tough work that calls for cross-cultural savvy and sensitivity, language skills, patience, tact, and the support of lots and lots of volunteers, so that when newly arrived immigrants do show up to receive the help that POBLO desires to provide, there are enough loving Lutheran folks around who are willing to help teach English, citizenship and sewing classes and who will provide tutoring and distribute clothing and furniture.  In other words, the PROBLO (problem) at POBLO is one of manpower.  Mesgana and John need more people around who are willing to serve, and who will learn to love the people they are serving.  Financial support of this ministry is certainly important, and kudos need to go out to the congregations in the Rochester Circuit who are already providing John and Mesgana with financial, logistical, and infrastructure support!  But love is best heard, seen, and received when it comes from a person to a person in person.  Which is why flesh and blood volunteers are what POBLO needs most to impact their clients with the love of Jesus.