Fellowship Southwest / immigration / refugees

Fellowship Southwest joins coalition to launch desert immigrant shelter

By Marv Knox

Joy and gladness radiated from the desert about 100 miles west of Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 3.

A shelter for refugees opened in Palomas, Chihuahua—thanks to a coalition that includes the village of Palomas, the state of Chihuahua, Red de Albergues Migrantes (the Migrant Shelter Network), regional nonprofits and Fellowship Southwest.

Palomas 1

The newly dedicated immigrant shelter in Palomas, Chihuahua, sports the Fellowship Southwest logo (far left). FSW is participating in a cooperative effort to provide ministry to refugees at a remote desert border crossing.

Although Palomas is isolated and surrounded by hostile terrain, asylum seekers still flow through. They strive for passage into the United States at the border crossing on the northern edge of town.

The small community has been ill-equipped to endure the financial strain of serving the refugees, reported Rosalio Sosa, a leader of Red de Albergues Migrantes, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Tierra de Oro in El Paso and Fellowship Southwest’s key ministry partner in the area.

In fact, the village tried to operate a shelter and couldn’t afford it. So, municipal leaders reached out to the state. Enrique Valenzuela, a state government official whose responsibilities include care for immigrants, asked Sosa to help, and Sosa asked Fellowship Southwest to extend its support.

The village contributed the building, and the state helped with renovations. Red de Albergues Migrantes oversees operations and recruited the director. Fellowship Southwest and nonprofits from the area provide operational support.

Fellowship Southwest’s commitment to the project has been made possible by Christian Mission Concerns, a Waco, Texas-based foundation with a legacy of support for ministry along the borderlands.

Palomas 2

A crowd of local residents joined municipal, state and federal government officials, faith leaders and nonprofit volunteers to dedicate a new immigrant relief center in Palomas, Chihuahua, Feb. 3. A grant from Fellowship Southwest will provide food and medical supplies at the remote ministry site.

Sosa recruited the shelter’s director, Wilfredo Perez, a longtime church planter with the Convención Bautista de Chihuahua. The congregation he started in Palomas, Iglesia Bautista La Viña, meets in the shelter—an answer to prayer, Sosa noted.

A crowd celebrated at the shelter dedication, he reported. They included 24 volunteers; 63 people from the town and federal, state and municipal officials; and 85 children who enjoyed a piñata, cake and candy. They installed Director Perez and his family, and they distributed 110 bags of groceries from a new food pantry, which will provide support not only to immigrants, but also to local residents.

Pastor Jorge Moncayo of Amarillo, Texas, a longtime ministry ally of Sosa’s, preached. “Nine people received Jesus Christ as Savior,” Sosa said. “Thanks, Fellowship Southwest!”

To contribute to Fellowship Southwest’s Immigrant Relief Fund, which not only supports the Palomas shelter, but also ministries to immigrants all along the U.S.-Mexico border, click here.

Marv Knox is coordinator of Fellowship Southwest. You can reach him at mknox@cbf.net.

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