On the last Sunday of every month, the Los Alamos community finds White Rock Baptist Church members in the Espanola Walmart parking lot handing out burritos and ministering to people who are homeless. Andy Erickson, White Rock’s head of missions and outreach, calls it “The Burrito Ministry.” The ministry’s official name is “New Mexico Food is Love.” Beverly and James Nelson have led the project for the last three years. But, if you ask Mrs. Nelson, the story started well before that.
Beverly was a “solidly confirmed atheist” when the couple met. At the time, James was “furious at God.” The Nelsons agreed that if one of them were to “get religion,” it would end their relationship. But, what if they both did? Mrs. Nelson remembers, “We were so grateful that God touched our hearts at the exact same time so that our human pride didn’t get in the way.”
Spurred by their new, shared faith, the Nelsons began investing time, talent, and money into ministry, specifically in Espanola. Soon, they met Lupe Salazar from Barrios Unidos and teamed up with her to provide breakfast burritos, clothing, information and resources for people living on the streets, struggling with addiction, abuse or other issues. Once the Nelsons sold their food truck, they realized they would need another kitchen.
Beginning in February 2021, White Rock Baptist and the Nelsons became ministry partners. Together, at 6 a.m., they assemble 100 burritos. Then, they hand them out after church between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Different church members, including White Rock’s youth group, have participated
Erickson said the ministry aims to offer “more than a hand out.” The tasty New Mexican burritos have proved to be the catalyst for getting numerous people into rehab, praying with some and building up the faith of others. Mrs. Nelson calls the results “small victories in Jesus’ name.”
Beverly said one of her favorite stories is about a gentleman who works at Shoe Depot, next to Walmart. “The first time we were out … [the man] started yelling at us and told us to leave. He went into the store; and, they told him we had permission to be there. This made him angrier. Each time we showed up, we would greet him warmly and offer him a burrito. After a few months, he would take a burrito; and, it grew from there.”
‘Strong in God’
Beverly said the man had become one of the ministry’s biggest supporters. His name was Mike. She recalled, “One time I had a gentleman trying to convince me that the addicted and homeless chose this and didn’t deserve our help and love. After a few minutes, Mike walked over and told him, ‘You don’t want to mess with these ladies. They are strong in God. They are out here taking care of everyone who comes by, no matter how hot, how cold, or how wet it is.’” She said the incident almost made her cry. In fact, she said that Mike also donates money now and helps serve in the parking lot.
The Nelsons asked people to pray for more opportunities to build relationships; meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs with long-term solutions; and establish partnerships with local churches (like Baptist Convention of New Mexico church plant, Word Baptist Church, Espanola). The Nelsons share burrito ministry stories on Facebook (@nmfoodislove). Beverly said others can see on Facebook how “the simple act(s) of praying with, feeding, and loving people have changed the world one hand at a time.”
For more information, visit wrbcnm.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Alisha Plummer and was originally published by the Baptist New Mexican.