No car and a one-hour bus trip didn’t keep Violeta and Israel from deciding they would attend First Baptist Church of Indianapolis.
They had been married for six years and living in Mexico City when Violeta was awarded a scholarship to do research at IUPUI. She moved to Indianapolis in October 2014 while Israel stayed in Mexico, hoping to join her soon.
Before Israel arrived, Violeta began looking for a church. She attended several, but couldn’t find the right one. “It was hard to find the place I felt I could be part of,” she said.
Although he was in Mexico, Israel found the right church for them when he discovered the FBC Indy website. “We were attracted to it because I liked (the outreach) to missions. The ‘Come as you are’ motto helped a lot,” Violeta said.
“Once I knew about this church I attended and enjoyed it so very much from the first time I was here,” Violeta said. “I was welcomed and felt friendship from everybody.”
Violeta started attending FBC Indy regularly in January of 2015, not deterred by winter weather and long travel time on the bus. “When it snowed, it was kind of adventurous,” she said. FBC Indy was where she wanted to worship. “I told Israel it will be worth it to make the trip because it’s a very nice church,” she said.
Israel arrived in Indianapolis in February 2015. He experienced FBC Indy for himself. “This is a church that really cares. It welcomes people from different countries and different places. We live here by ourselves. We don’t have a family here but we feel like we found a family.”
Israel and Violeta became members of FBC Indy December 6 2015. “We felt part of this church since the beginning,” said Violeta. “This was officially doing it.”
“We are grateful for this church,” Israel said. “We have had a lot of different experiences. We got involved with many people. We are participating in a Bible Study. We have had the opportunity to be involved and feel loved.”
It’s not just in how they’ve experienced the church reaching out to them. It’s also how they’ve seen the church reaching out to all people. “You don’t have to pretend to be another person,” Violeta said. FBC Indy “tells you they will accept you no matter what.”
Israel said FBC Indy is a church that is “people oriented” and considers “people’s needs around the neighborhood, with the sports program (First Baptist Athletics), Beginnings (preschool/daycare), the Food Pantry. They really care about people. They try to serve those who are more vulnerable. This is a church I want to be a part of.”
Israel and Violeta are both Mexican citizens and have visas that allow them to live in the United States. Violeta has had a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Indiana University School of Medicine doing research on diabetes. The Fellow has been extended a year and she’ll be doing research on schizophrenia and cancer. Israel, meanwhile, is pursuing a master’s degree at Ball State University in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
They don’t know what’s ahead but they have considered staying in Indianapolis. “It’s a long process. Very complicated,” Israel said, and they don’t know yet if it’ll work out for them to stay long-term.
On September 4, 2016 their son, Marco, was born. “We are enjoying our time here, and we hope Marco grows up here, feeling the love of this church.” Israel said.
“First Baptist is our family,” Violeta said. Although they miss their family and friends in Mexico, she said, “We don’t feel lonely here. We used to call Mexico our home, but then we said this is our home.”
“We started calling Indianapolis home,” Israel said.
No matter who you are and where you’re from, FBC Indy offers a welcoming home of love and acceptance.