By Marv Knox
EL PASO—Central American immigrants in El Paso soon will be able to bathe themselves and their children in respectful privacy, thanks to a small congregation supported by Fellowship Southwest.
Osvaldo Vasquez, pastor of Iglesia de Dios El Elyon in El Paso, has led his tiny congregation to serve asylum seekers released by the U.S. government with nowhere to go. The task is overwhelming, especially for a poor church in one of the poorest sections of the city.
Iglesia de Dios El Elyon opened its doors when the immigrants began arriving, seeking help. Now, the church provides a warm welcome, food and shelter in its sanctuary for 50 to 70 immigrants per day.
Vasquez reached out to his friend Jorge Zapata, associate coordinator of CBF Texas and director of Fellowship Southwest’s immigrant relief ministry.
“Iglesia de Dios El Elyon needs help to construct two showers for the refugees being housed here, because they have no place anymore,” Vasquez wrote to Zapata. “They used to take showers in the local (nonprofit), but the doors there are no longer open. The (nonprofit) was requiring insurance for everyone that would use the facility’s showers.
“Please, we are in need of desperate help. This situation requires urgent and immediate help. The cost of materials is $450 for each shower. We would do the labor.”
Based on Fellowship Southwest’s promise to send the funds, the El Paso congregation has purchased supplies and begun construction the showers behind the church building.
Still, the need is dire, Zapata reported.
“The pastor works 24/7 and sleeps on the floor in the church office,” he said. “The church had 60 members when they opened as shelter, and 30 of them left the church. The pastor had to take a 100 percent pay cut. He and his family had to move in the church they could no longer pay home rent.”
Iglesia de Dios El Elyon has taken on this ministry out of Christian love, Zapata said, noting Fellowship Southwest/CBF is the only outside support the church receives.
“If we can find a church that would like to help them, it would be great!” he urged.
Fellowship Southwest was able to send money to build the showers because its members provided funds for its immigrant relief ministry. To contribute to the fund that supports this ministry, click here.
For more information or to explore the possibility of your church considering adopting Iglesia de Dios El Elyon or another of numerous border congregations providing ministry to immigrants, contact Zapata by calling (956) 873-1537 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.