By Marv Knox
Refugees all along the Mexico-U.S. border feel the love of Jesus, thanks to you.
This week, Fellowship Southwest sent more than $10,000 in aid to six ministries serving immigrants from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. FSW’s Immigrant Relief Ministry supports border congregations that provide food, shelter and gospel hope to refugees crowded on their doorsteps.
“These churches—most of them are small and poor themselves—are providing sacrificial ministry to the immigrants,” reported Jorge Zapata, associate coordinator of CBF Texas and director of FSW’s ministry to immigrants. “Despite their own challenges, they are serving others in Jesus’ name. The pastors and many of the church members are cooking food and offering other care for the refugees day after day, on top of their own jobs and family responsibilities.”
Zapata visits the shelter sites regularly and stays in ongoing contact with the pastors. In addition to distributing financial support, he counsels and prays with them, supplying spiritual nurture for their tasks.
The latest FSW contributions will go to provide meals for immigrants up and down the border. It also will help pay the rent for small homes that shelter refugees in northern Mexico and repair wear and tear on a church facility not built to handle sustained 24/7 human traffic, Zapata said.
The ministries FSW supports with the latest grants include:
Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville in Brownsville, Texas, where about 100—and sometimes many more—refugees pass through daily for initial processing as they seek asylum in the United States. They receive showers, clean clothes, medical attention, food and the gospel.
- Iglesia Bautista Capernaum in Brownsville, whose members prepare and deliver breakfast twice a week to more than 500 immigrants camped along the Rio Grande in downtown Matamoros, Mexico.
- Mercy Group, a collection of congregations that cook and serve lunch for 100 to 150 refugees four days a week at Catholic Charities’ immigrant respite center, across the street from the bus station in downtown McAllen, Texas.
- Iglesia Bautista El Buen Samaritano in Laredo, Texas, which operates four immigrant centers—two in churches, two in rented houses—in Nuevo Laredo. In addition to the food and encouragement, this ministry provides another vital service. It keeps people off the streets and away from cartels, which prowl the city, kidnapping refugees and holding them for ransom.
- Iglesia Bautista Tierra de Oro in El Paso, which helps operate shelters scattered across Juarez, Mexico. FSW recently bought two freezers for this ministry’s food-distribution center and provided funds to rent that building, which also doubles as a shelter. The latest allocation helps provide food for centers that have no other support.
- The San Diego Southern Baptist Association, which will use its allocation to provide two meals a day, six days a week for 500 to 600 immigrants who live in five shelters scattered across the city.
Through a grant from a family foundation and the aid of a congregation that “adopted” its ministry, FSW also supports two shelters operated by Primera Iglesia Bautista in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
Also, FSW works alongside the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition and City Church in Del Rio, which serves refugees, not only from Central and Latin America, but also from Africa.
The border churches’ ministries will continue “as long as the crisis brings immigrants who seek asylum,” Zapata said, noting the financial needs—and Fellowship Southwest’s resolve to help meet them—will continue.
To contribute to Fellowship Southwest’s Immigrant Relief Fund, click here.
Also, Iglesia Bautista Capernaum distributes disposable diapers—from infant through age 3—to parents of children camped in Matamoros. If you would like to provide diapers, you can mail them to:
Pastor Rogelio Perez
Iglesia Bautista Capernaum
6560 Carolina Pin
Brownsville, TX 78526
Finally, these needs are ongoing. To initiate a discussion about how your church can adopt one of Fellowship Southwest’s immigrant relief ministries, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marv Knox is coordinator of Fellowship Southwest and a member of Valley Ranch Baptist Church in Coppell, Texas.