Growing up as a child of immigrants in the United States

Youth from Seattle First Tongan speaks to national UMC youth gathering


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By Patrick Scriven

If there is one item in this newsletter that you read or watch this week, I hope it is this one. In fact, I’d encourage you to share it with others in your church through an email or on social media. Even better, see if you can get a few minutes set aside to play it during worship.

Falisha Hola delivered this powerful testimony about growing up as a child of immigrants in the U.S. at YOUTH 2019, a national gathering for United Methodist youth, last week.

Falisha is a young person from Seattle First Tongan United Methodist Church who has served on our Conference Council on Youth Ministries for the past four years, including as president. She was elected as a delegate to the 2020 Western Jurisdictional Conference when the PNW Conference gathered in June.

It was hard not to think of Falisha’s vulnerable words over the weekend as President Trump targeted a racist tweet at four congresswomen of color telling them to “go back” to the countries they came from (three of the four were born in the U.S).

Speaking of her family, Falisha said “I never spoke of the situation of my family in fear that someone would take them away from me, in fear that they would be discriminated against because of what people labeled as immigrants. Labeling them as illegal, not American, telling them to go back to where they are from…”

We can all grow from listening to each other and striving to understand how we see and experience the world differently. It’s hard to imagine how we can aspire to love our neighbor if we won’t listen to them and take seriously the things we hear.

So please take a few minutes—even just for yourself—and listen to Falisha’s testimony. As a fellow Christ-follower, I think you’ll be blessed by her words and wisdom.

Patrick Scriven is a husband who married well, a father of three amazing girls, and a seminary educated layperson working professionally in the church. Scriven serves the Pacific Northwest Conference as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries.


  1. Wow! What a powerful presentation and statement by Felisha! A remarkable young woman who says it like it is for her and her family! God is truly with you, Felisha!

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