Ministering at the margins: Tierra Nueva turns lost sheep into shepherds

An ecumenical ministry in rural Washington state helps Latin American immigrants, migrant workers, gang members, addicts, jail inmates and people who have been incarcerated become leaders in their own community.

Tierra Nueva is headquartered in a 100-year-old former bank building in rural Burlington, Washington. The first floor, repurposed into a simple worship space and family support center, is a mishmash of sleeper couches, desks, bookshelves and cardboard boxes.

On one wall, a mural (link is external) depicts Jesus as a brown-skinned man channeling healing waters, which swirl around a scene filled with people — imprisoned behind bars, entangled in ropes and chains, toiling in green fields, embracing one another, kneeling in prayer.

The painting symbolizes the mission of this ecumenical ministry, which serves people on the margins of society — Latin American immigrants, migrant workers, gang members, addicts, jail inmates and people who have been incarcerated, as well as people in the mainstream.

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