Hunger Knows No Borders
At 37 years old, Rev. Gabriel Salguero has a huge responsibility—to be the voice for some 9 million evangelicals in the United States. He is the president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, which includes more than 3,000 churches. “We work as a team and look for the common good. We fight for laws that are just,” said Salguero, who has led the coalition since January.
The New Jersey resident says his goal within the coalition is to combat poverty among Latinos, lobby for just immigration laws, and to expand people’s access to education. “These are related issues. My goal is to fight for the well-being and justice of Latinos in this country,” he said.
Salguero takes his message across the country and to different parts of the world. He also visits legislators in Washington, DC, in hopes of changing laws so that needy people will benefit. Being the voice of those who are in need or have been ignored is what motivates Salguero to lobby politicians and to put his best effort into his preaching at The Lamb’s Church, a multicultural congregation in New York City.
Salguero has distinguished himself through church and public leadership. He is the founder of P.O.G International, an organization that promotes faith, leadership, and training, and has taught at Princeton Theological Seminary. “I owe all of this to my parents. I learned love and piety from them, watching them help people who were recovering from addictions. That inspired me,” said Salguero, who quit law school to get a doctorate in theology and ethics.
The evangelical pastor said it hasn’t been easy to do all the things he wanted to do, but serving his community motivates him. “Working on behalf of others is a challenge, whether you’re a man or a woman, so it’s important to achieve some balance,” he said. “It’s helped that I have learned to delegate some duties. I can’t do everything myself so it’s important to work with a team. I have also learned not to say ‘yes’ to everything, and I have the full support of my wife—and that has been essential.”
Jeannette Salguero is also a pastor at The Lamb’s Church. The couple tries to balance work and personal time. Often they split the time they spend with their two children and help each other meet the needs of their congregation.
Gabriel Salguero said he will continue working with the immigrant community in the United States, particularly those who are in the country without authorization. “Immigration reform is the greatest challenge for Hispanics. We have to change the laws,” he said. “All of this has its roots in global poverty, and poverty stems from a lack of education. All of it is intertwined.”
He’s optimistic that millions of undocumented immigrants will soon get the long-sought legal status that will allow them to remain in this country and eventually afford them the rights that come with U.S. citizenship.
Salguero plans to bring his message to Washington, DC, during Bread for the World’s National Gathering 2011 in June. The biennial event will bring together hundreds of Christian activists who are committed to “Changing the Politics of Hunger,” which is the event’s theme. He will be one of the featured speakers and will talk about ways to protect and help the neediest Latinos in this country.
“I’m taking part [in Bread’s National Gathering] because it is important to make sure Latino women and children get adequate nutrition. We must speak up for the hungry and those who are most at need,” said Salguero. “This world is experiencing a crisis because of the gap between those who have and those who have not. It’s our duty to speak up for them in this country and around the world.”
Isabel Morales is Hispanic media consultant for Bread for the World.
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