By Diann Berry
When writing about the Offering for Global Missions, I can’t help but think of the long-term impact it’s had on ministry here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, when in 2011 CBF decided to send a missionary to the border area of Texas/Mexico to address extreme poverty.
I am pictured here (in black) with the current Director of the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center, Diana Farias. Since 2011, I’ve been involved with this ministry on many levels, and continue to be involved today. Over the last eight years, I’ve watched this literacy ministry touch countless lives, each and every semester. It reaches out to those who struggle with extreme poverty because they can’t get a job. And they can’t get a job because they either don’t have a high school education or diploma, or they can’t speak English. We offer help for these people.
To explain the benefit of long-term mission involvement, such as the Offering provides, I can use the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center and myself as an example.
After relocating to the Rio Grande Valley back in 2011, I was looking for ways to minister, while listening for God’s direction. I had been involved in teaching ESL classes before, and already understood that education in general was a key component to escaping poverty. One day, I just so happened to take a city bus tour, geared for newcomers to the Valley. One of the stops on the tour was the Literacy Center, and I was immediately drawn to the work going on.
About ten years prior, someone had recognized the need for English classes along the border, and an initial ESL class was started in the basement of a church. The ministry grew, became a non-profit organization, and eventually moved into its own space in a rented building. By the time I came along in 2011, there were many classes being offered to hundreds of adult students. I was asked to become a Board member and elected to oversee the governance of the organization/ministry.
Even with a booming enrollment, the ministry had some problems. The Center could not keep up with its expenses, and was in danger of closing the doors. In 2012, I was voted in as the new Director of the RGV Literacy Center. This was a volunteer position, and I was able to serve in this capacity because of the Offering for Global Missions. Our goal during those years was to streamline the ministry, so that we could make sure the doors stayed open for years to come. And they have.
I eventually stepped down as Director of the Literacy Center, and the current Director is ably leading a strong organization. My long-term goal was not to leave a hole in leadership upon my exit, but to help train and advise a new Director in order to make the ministry sustainable for the future. Today I serve as Board Advisor to the Literacy Center, and am called upon by Mrs. Farias almost weekly to clarify or give my advice on various matters. My goal is to eventually leave this eight-year ministry partnership, knowing that I’ve done what I can to create a sustainable ministry for the future.
There are many examples of long-term work within CBF Global Missions, led by CBF field personnel. Mine is only one. None of them could be possible without the Offering for Global Missions, enabling us to engage in hard ministries and projects that take time.
This type of mission work cannot be done in a week or a month. It takes years. It’s what I refer to as the long-haul of missions.
I am forever grateful that CBF and those who give to the Offering understand this level of commitment and work out in the mission fields. Thank you.
Diann Berry is a CBF field personnel serving in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border. You can learn more about and support Diann’s ministry in the valley at www.cbf.net/berry.
Diann’s long-term presence in the Rio Grande Valley is made possible by the CBF Offering for Global Missions. Join God’s mission in the world. Give to the Offering for Global Missions. 100 percent of your church’s gifts will be used to send CBF field personnel to share the Good News of Jesus Christ around the world. Go to www.cbf.net/transform and order your free OGM resources today.