December 20, 2022
By CBF Communications
Harlingen, Texas — Recalling the Christmas story as Mary and Joseph fled the terror of King Herod, CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley affirmed the “holy privilege” of serving alongside faithful ministry partners at the U.S.-Mexico border during visits to respite centers along the border on December 12.
Baxley’s visit to the Catholic Charities operated respite center in McAllen and the respite center of West Brownsville Baptist Church in Brownsville, Texas, comes alongside news of 1,500 migrants crossing the Rio Grande river into El Paso in a single day.
During his visit, Baxley met with key partners in the Fellowship’s missional approach at the border, including Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley, and Carlos Navarro, pastor of West Brownsville Baptist Church. Baxley reiterated CBF’s biblical and missional commitment to welcoming the stranger and praised the hospitality and ministry of these key partners.
“I was deeply impressed by the beautiful hospitality being demonstrated both by members of West Brownsville Baptist Church and by the staff at Catholic Charities,” Baxley said. “Through their commitment, deep compassion and remarkable leadership in Brownsville and McAllen, Christ’s love is being demonstrated. Sister Norma Pimentel is a remarkable faith leader who has offered courageous welcome for decades. The ministry of Pastor Carlos Navarro and his congregation is a demonstration of the transformative power of congregations in the center of Christ’s mission.
“Our Fellowship has a holy privilege of serving alongside these deeply faithful partners. Particularly in these days around Christmas, we are reminded that the infant Jesus was also a refugee and an asylum seeker as his family fled the terror of King Herod. In the faces of little children and their parents, we saw reflected the face of Christ who said ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”
CBF field personnel Elket Rodriguez, who serves the communities and migrants in the border region encompassing Mexico and the U.S., accompanied Baxley, as well as Adam Granger, CBF’s strategic engagement officer.
Baxley observed the realities of migrant families recently released from detention and the effects on border communities and the complicated logistics required to welcome asylum seekers on a daily basis.
“As we saw migrant families in their first hours after being legally released from detention, the exhaustion and the trauma these families have faced for months and in some cases for years, was obvious to see. The way these families are being welcomed at respite centers provides dignity, warmth and a place for rest and strength,” Baxley said. “Being alongside these families and those who faithfully serve at the border each day further underscored the name for reform across a system that is broken.”
Operators of migrant shelters in Mexico and respite centers in the United States are seeing an increase in the number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked temporarily the end of Title 42 that was expected on December 21.
“The shelters are overwhelmed beyond capacity, and it seems Title 42 will continue to be implemented beyond December 21,” Rodriguez said. “In the meantime, Dr. Baxley’s visit reinforces CBF’s commitment with the border communities and strengthens our partnerships.”
To bolster the church’s response to the surge of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, Pastor David Deulofeu of the Baptist Temple South Houston traveled to Brownsville, Texas, on December 19 with a trailer of coats, shoes, hygiene products and backpacks for migrant children to welcome migrants into the U.S.
“There are many needs, and we know that we cannot cover all the needs because our resources are limited,” Deulofeu said. “But we can’t look the other way. We have to do everything we can to let people know that the God of heaven loves them, and that the church welcomes and embraces them.”
Deulofeu, who personally handed Pastor Navarro the backpacks assembled by his church for migrant children this Christmas, urged other churches and Christians to participate in welcoming migrants.
“You can always do a little bit more,” he said. “We just have to look at people like Jesus did, and have the compassion that he had.”
Cooperative Baptists are encouraged to call their member of Congress and sign this letter from the Evangelical Immigration Table, asking for an immigration reform that provides solutions for border communities, Afghan allies, Farmworkers and Dreamers or Deferred Action for Recent Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to 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.