December 13, 2021
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — Following a two-year pause due to the pandemic, CBF Global Missions has resumed career field service appointments with the selection of Elket Rodríguez to serve as CBF field personnel with communities and migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rodríguez, a native of Puerto Rico and attorney in Harlingen, Texas, has served since March 2020 in a collaborative role with CBF and Fellowship Southwest as the Fellowship’s Immigrant and Refugee Specialist. In this role, Rodríguez focused on coordinating CBF’s immigration advocacy efforts and leading CBF’s Advocacy Action Team for Immigrants and Refugees.
As a CBF field personnel, Rodríguez will serve communities and migrants in the U.S.-Mexico border, a region comprised of four U.S. states and six Mexican states, where he will encourage churches along and across the region to engage with migrants, asylum seekers and the vulnerable in their communities.
Rodríguez’s ministry will include hosting workshops in both countries to educate migrants, asylum seekers, pastors and churches on the biblical foundations of welcoming the stranger and loving our neighbors. From this perspective, Rodríguez will also address the misinformation that shapes unproductive border policies and contributes to increased migration at the border.
In addition to continuing his immigration advocacy leadership role with CBF, Rodríguez will provide legal aid to asylum seekers and advise pastors and churches on how to assist migrants in their communities, and also connect migrant families to resources such as shelters, food pantries, medical and legal assistance services, job opportunities, sponsorship programs and transportation.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley celebrated the appointment of Rodríguez and shared his gratefulness for Rodríguez answering the call to career field service.
“Today, we celebrate the decision to appoint Elket Rodríguez to serve as CBF field personnel,” Baxley said. “I am grateful for Elket’s response to this call to serve, and for the commitment of our entire Fellowship that makes this act faithful and possible. After several years where we have been unable to appoint new field personnel during the pandemic, the opportunity to commission Elket this June in Dallas will be a beautiful new beginning in CBF Global Missions. His ministry will build on our mission commitments to cultivate beloved community, bear witness to Jesus Christ and seek transformational development in the midst of global migration.
“Elket’s ministry, along with his field personnel colleagues around the world, is made possible because of the generous support of the Offering for Global Missions. As gifts to the Offering continue to increase, we will be able to appoint others who can partner with our congregations and the Global Church to carry out Christ’s mission in our communities and around the world.”
CBF Global Missions Coordinator Steven Porter also expressed his excitement for the career appointment of Rodríguez.
“In this season of giving to CBF’s Offering for Global Missions, I couldn’t be more delighted over the appointment of Elket Rodríguez to career field service on the U.S.-Mexico border,” Porter shared. “His passion to share the love of Jesus Christ with neighbors on the margins of our country wed with his skills as an attorney are a powerful combination. Thank you for your generous gifts, which make Elket’s presence possible.”
Rodríguez was born and raised in Puerto Rico and lived on the island until 2017, when he moved to West Texas. He is bilingual and has seven years of legal experience and nearly 20 years of involvement in ministry. He earned an undergraduate degree in journalism and a law degree from the University of Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, he worked for two law firms, the Court of Appeals and the Department of Family. He also served in various capacities with the Christian Missionary Alliance. In Texas, he has worked for a law firm, Child Protective Services, and First Baptist Church of Midland, where he was a family and senior-adult ministry assistant, taught citizenship classes and served as an English as a Second Language consultant, and also established a Spanish Sunday school class/ministry that continues to thrive. Rodríguez is married to Yesenia Zayas, a geographer. They have two sons, Yesel, 9 and Sahir, 6.
Due to the pandemic, Rodríguez’s service with Fellowship Southwest and CBF shifted from providing legal aid to supporting and significantly strengthening the Fellowship’s immigrant relief network and collaborating with a myriad of groups focusing on relief and public policy as the representative of CBF. He also wrote dozens of articles about immigration and border issues for Fellowship Southwest and CBF publications during his two-year tenure. His colleagues have emphasized the trust and respect that Rodríguez has earned among pastors at the border and serving as a bridge-builder between Latino and Anglo cultures.
CBF Latino Field Ministries Coordinator Rubén Ortiz said that Rodríguez has raised CBF’s standing on immigration advocacy and expanded the Fellowship’s “sphere of influence in defending the human rights of asylum seekers in the United States and Mexico border.”
“Elket has interconnected ecumenical immigration advocacy networks across the entire political spectrum in the United States and he has the respect and appreciation of organizations like the Evangelical Immigration Table, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and Tearfund’s Latin America “As Born Among Us” campaign,” Ortiz said.
“Thanks to Elket’s efforts, CBF pastors, leaders and friends of Familia, CBF’s Latino network, have participated in multiple meetings with elected officials to advocate for immigrant rights. He has been an asset to the pastors that make up the Fellowship Southwest Immigrant Relief Ministry and Elket is a friend for border pastors when they need the advice of a professional related to advocacy.
Ortiz also noted that Elket played an instrumental role in leading the effort to establish CBF’s Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund, which has supported dozens of ministries serving migrants and meeting the need of people in the U.S. and Latin America.
Fellowship Southwest Executive Director Stephen Reeves also praised Rodríguez’s appointment.
“I am thrilled Elket is joining CBF global missions as a field personnel,” Reeves said. Since March of 2020 he has done incredible work leading our immigration advocacy efforts, representing us in national coalitions, lifting the voices and stories of migrants, and supporting Fellowship Southwest’s border network. CBF is blessed to have him continue in this new role. Elket is brilliant, kind, deeply faithful, a passionate advocate, and a good friend. I know that both CBF and Fellowship Southwest will benefit from his ministry for years to come.”
Marv Knox, the recently retired executive director of Fellowship Southwest, echoed Reeves and praised Rodríguez’s ministry gifts.
“Elket possesses a complete package of skills for ministry to immigrants on the border,” Knox said. “As one who has relocated himself, he appreciates their fears and aspirations. As a faithful minister, he sees all people as God’s beloved creation. As an immigration attorney, he understands the legal and political implications of immigration policy. As a journalist, he knows how to tell immigrants’ stories, so others can love and care for them, too.”
Rodríguez called his appointment to service a “privilege” and offered words of thanks to Cooperative Baptists.
“It is a privilege to serve alongside dozens of committed CBF field personnel who bear witness to Jesus Christ all around the world,” Rodríguez said. “I am grateful to CBF for trusting me to continue with the endeavor of serving the communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. I am also excited for the many ways our border communities can benefit in the future from the welcoming love and compassion Cooperative Baptists and CBF congregations have for the vulnerable.”
Learn more about Rodríguez and his ministry at www.cbf.net/rodriguez. Gifts to the Offering for Global Missions makes possible the long-term presence of CBF field personnel serving around the world in nearly 20 countries. Learn more about the Offering and give online today at www.cbf.net/OGM.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith into practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.