The San Diego Southern Baptist Association (SDSBA) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) are standing behind a British church planter and his family who are facing deportation at the end of the month.
Obed Brefo, pastor of King’s Cross Church in San Diego, and his wife Elena were working toward extending their religious (R1) visa and applying for permanent residency and eventual U.S. citizenship when the church sponsoring their visa terminated their application in 2018.
“When we started seminary [in 2010] … the goal was to graduate and head back to England to start a church,” Brefo said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder Jan. 15. “But after being here for five, six years, we really began to look around and see the need around us in southern California.”
In 2017, Brefo learned of an opportunity through NAMB to plant a church in one of the least churched neighborhoods of San Diego.
First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach, then under interim leadership, agreed to sponsor Brefo and host King’s Cross in their facilities, providing him an office and the new church space for their services.
King’s Cross launched in March 2018, but members of FBC Pacific Beach voted weeks later to end their partnership with King’s Cross and no longer sponsor Brefo’s application.
The Recorder contacted FBC Pacific Beach for a comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.
SDSBA became Brefo’s sponsor, but last week the Brefos learned the couple’s application for green cards was denied because of inconsistencies in their visa status, referring to the 2018 cancellation.
Obed and Elena, along with their three children who were all born in the U.S., must now leave the country by the end of the month. When they arrive in England, the couple will refile for a new R1 visa in hopes of returning to California by February 2021.
“It’s so challenging for us as a family,” Brefo told the congregation in an announcement Jan. 12.
“This church is our home. You guys are our people,” Elena said through tears. “None of us want to leave. We’re still shocked, to be honest.”
The family is praying God would provide an unexpected way for them to stay in the U.S., or at least reduce their time in England.
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Source: Baptist Press