COVID-19 / Fellowship Southwest / immigration

Doctor’s wrong number proved to be a life-saving “call from heaven”

By Elket Rodríguez

Pastor Eleuterio González

A “call from heaven” enabled Pastor Eleuterio González to help a desperately sick child in Matamoros, Mexico.

Supported by Fellowship Southwest, González and his church, Iglesia Valle de Beraca, feed and protect more than 1,600 immigrants living in the Alberca Chavez shelter, across the U.S.-Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas. They also minister in camps, where thousands of refugees live outdoors in tents.

On Sept. 12, González was engaged in his typical Saturday routine—providing food in the mammoth camp on the banks of the Rio Grande. An immigrant told him about a 9-year-old Honduran girl suffering from severe vomiting.

As soon as González saw the girl, he knew she needed urgent medical attention. “This was not a game,” he said. “The girl was pale. She needed to see a doctor right away.”

For two weeks, torrential rains, accompanied by a cold front, thunderstorms and strong winds, have buffeted Matamoros. The refugee camp flooded, and the storms damaged tarps and tents where the immigrants seek shelter. The conditions provided a breeding ground for disease, including COVID-19.

In addition, the city’s main roads have been blockaded by protestors. They oppose a state police crackdown on illegal transportation services and the use of foreign vehicles to provide those services.

These circumstances, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, have made Matamoros very insecure, González reported.

“I told migrants in the Alberca Chávez (shelter) and in the camp they can’t get out, because they could be infected with COVID-19 or be kidnapped,” he said. “In addition, businesses and public transportation services are all at a standstill because of the blockades.”

In this context, González faced his second medical crisis in two weeks. Previously, he helped a woman in the final stages of labor cross into the United States to deliver her baby safely. This time, he followed a similar strategy, loading the girl and her mother into his vehicle.

When he sought help for the mother in labor, he learned Matamoros’ hospitals were operating at maximum capacity. So, instead of visiting hospitals, he rushed the girl to the nearest clinics, only to learn they were closed.

When the girl felt like vomiting again, González pulled over so she and her mother could attend to the emergency. Alone in the car, facing limited options, González asked God for help.

“I began to pray, and suddenly I received a call from heaven, because God found the person I needed to take care of that girl,” he said. His phone rang. “It was a doctor who … was calling the wrong number.”

González kept the doctor on the phone and asked for help. Fortunately, he was only two blocks away.

“He brought his briefcase with him and asked the girl” about her symptoms, he said. “The girl had a very strong infection in her stomach.”

González bought medicine, and the girl began to improve.

“Those things are what make me fall in love with God, because the girl runs with me and thanks me,” González said. “We are instruments of God. That’s what we are for.”

These past few months, González’s ministry to immigrants has experienced many challenges. Yet Fellowship Southwest has witnessed how God continues to provide in the midst of scarcity and misery. You can also help Fellowship Southwest support the immigrant ministry of Eleuterio González and his fellow pastors on the U.S.-Mexico border by clicking here.

Elket Rodríguez is the immigrant and refugee advocacy and missions specialist for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Fellowship Southwest.

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