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  • Martin Vargas

Oregon for Christ!

This last October 10-11, I had the opportunity to visit for the first time to Oregon state. I was invited by Village Church, a multicultural church located in Beaverton, Orgeon. After serving in three services in English to Korean, Anglos, Chinese, Hindues, Philipines and other Asians, and 2 workshops and 1 message to the Latino church, I was clear that the Lord wanted to showed the great need for new church planting in this region of United States.

Also, we appreciated the beauty of the nature here. Amazing colors, nice people and very blended society.

We are excited of new partnerships and we are already planning to COME OVER and HELP local leaders and churches to advance His Kingdom.

We are thankful to great friends who Oregon is their home state who have been serving God in this beautiful state.

As you will read below, Oregon have been home for many generations of Latinos. Now it’s our job to lead them to Christ and to His Kingdom.

According to the Oregon Encyclopedia:

The arrival of Latinos in Oregon began with Spanish explorations in the sixteenth century. In 1542-1543, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, sailing from the port of Navidad in Mexico, reached what is today the California-Oregon state line. Explorations by Spaniards continued with Sebastián Vizcaíno’s arrival on the Oregon Coast in 1602-1603. One of Vizcaíno's commanders, Martín de Aguilar, kept a log that contains one of the first written descriptions of the Oregon Coast. Vizcaíno set out from Mexico in 1602 in search of usable harbors and the mythical city of Quivira. While exploring along the northern California coast, a storm separated Vizcaíno and Aguilar's ships. Aguilar continued up the coast and is thought to have sighted and named Cape Blanco. He may have sailed as far north as Coos Bay. In 1774, Juan Perez reached the Oregon Coast to become the first European to describe Yaquina Head and make landfall in the present-day Oregon.

The late eighteenth-century Spanish explorations of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest were generally more concerned with territorial rights and Spain’s dominion in the region than treasure or commerce. They came to Oregon as part of a conquering and imperialistic empire. Mexican independence in the early nineteenth century brought a new phase for the Latino presence in Oregon. (1)

By the late 1920s and early 1930s, a large number of Latinos in Oregon worked in agriculture. As the prices for commodities fell in the 1930s, so did wages, and many Mexicans left to find work elsewhere. Employers in Oregon began to hire “white workers only,” regardless of their legal status. New Deal legislation had little to no effect on Mexicans, because many were refused assistance, and most Mexican Americans were not told they were eligible for relief programs. For those people who were repatriated, it was a demoralizing and humiliating experience.

As Oregon’s Latino population continued to grow during the 1950s and 1960s, individuals and organizations worked to improve Latinos’ lives in the state. KWRC in Woodburn, for example, began its Spanish radio programming in 1965, offering entertainment and information to the Latino community. The Oregon Council of Churches obtained an Office of Economic Opportunity grant in 1965 and formed the Valley Migrant League to provide social services for Latinos in six Oregon communities. The League played a vital leadership role by working with local, regional, and state officials on social and economic issues. Oregon Latinos were engaged in the civil rights movement at every level, and the United Farm Workers of Oregon, established in 1968, worked to improve conditions for Latino farmworkers.

The highest concentration of Latinos in Oregon in the twenty-first century has been in towns with historic immigrant populations. Five cities have majority Latino populations, all of them in traditional agricultural and ranching areas: Gervais (67 percent), Boardman (62 percent), Nyssa (61 percent), Woodburn (59 percent), and Cornelius (50 percent). Larger cities in the Portland metro area, including Hillsboro, Gresham, and Beaverton, also saw significant increases in the Latino population, as did Bend in central Oregon and the eastern Oregon towns of Hermiston and Umatilla. Salem's Latino population reached 20 percent, according to the 2010 Census, and communities such as Independence in the Willamette Valley and Phoenix in the Rogue Valley also saw significant increases in their Latino populations. Oregon, like the rest of the country, experienced an increase in undocumented immigrants in the 2000s. In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that there were 160,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon, with approximately 60 to 75 percent of them from Mexico.

In the twenty-first century, Latinos are the largest minority in Oregon. Census data reports that the Latino population in Oregon increased 144 percent between 1990 and 2000. By 2003, the permanent Latino population had risen to 9 percent of the state’s total population, or about 320,200 people. Based on 2013 census, almost 500,000 Latinos lived in Oregon, about 12 percent of the population—the fourteenth largest number of Latinos in the nation. Of those who identify as Latinos, 63 percent were born in the United States. In Oregon, 85 percent of Latinos are of Mexican origin, with the remaining 15 percent primarily from Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Cuba, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 5 percent of Oregon’s workforce in 2010, or about 110,000 people.(1)

This historical information is more than enough to know that as Latinos, is our main responsibility to reach our generation in Oregon.

What ever it Takes.

(1) Information by the Oregon Encyclopedia

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