Building a Bridge between Cultures

During seminary, Doug Moore ’72 accepted a casual invitation to visit a Spanish-speaking church, and the experience changed his life. He has been involved with Spanish congregations ever since. “It was the plan of God,” he says. “That one decision has affected both my work and my marriage.”

As a missionary kid who grew up in Chile, Doug spoke Spanish fluently. Before coming to Westmont, he spent a year reaching out to college students in Concepcion. He decided to major in philosophy so he could present the gospel more effectively when he returned to Chile and started a church near a university.

But Doug’s call to ministry took a different form. After graduating from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, he spent nine years as the pastor of an inner-city Spanish congregation in Chicago. He met his wife, Connie, through the church; she was a fellow seminary student and a public health nurse interested in working with Spanish-speaking people. In 1983 the Moores moved to Los Angeles and Doug has ministered at the First Evangelical Free Church ever since. He pastors English and Spanish congregations.

“Inner cities have the same problems you see everywhere else, but they are intensified, and fewer resources are available to help,” Doug says. “People there need individual, long-term attention. They need Christ, but they also need education and skills for jobs, so I worry about helping people learn to read and find work.

“I act as a liaison between my congregation and society,” he explains. “I act as a parent, a social worker and a legal advocate. Because I’m bilingual, I’m a bridge. I’m a white guy with blue eyes; my standing in solidarity with people gives them power. For example, if I go with someone to the Social Security office, their problem gets solved. Our world is broken and racism still exists.”

Shortly after he arrived in Los Angeles, Doug began a program to teach English as a second language. Within months more than 240 students had enrolled, and the church had to start a waiting list. “We became well known in the neighborhood,” Doug says. The program penetrated the area and continued for 10 years.

In another popular outreach, Doug sent Biola students to tutor children in their own homes for an hour each week. Today Master‘s College students live in the Nehemiah House near the church and spend three hours three afternoons a week at the church tutoring and mentoring youth from a five-block area.

Over the years, Doug has discovered that sexual abuse is a common experience for both men and women in the inner city. “That was a real eye-opener for me,” he said. “Being abused often leads to alcoholism, drug addiction and family dysfunction.”

In response, Doug has developed a workshop based on the Lord’s Prayer that gives people the opportunity to talk about and deal with the trauma of sexual abuse. When he gets to the part about forgiveness, Doug reminds people that we are both victims and victimizers and encourages forgiveness and repentance.

“Using the Lord’s prayer phrase by phrase opens the door to many subjects, including healing,” he says. “It has become a passion; I even collect books on the Lord’s Prayer.”

Doug and his wife, a nursing coordinator for the L.A. school district, have two children as well as a large, bilingual church family.

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