Along with others, a single mother carrying a baby on her back fled violence in Honduras.
Two girls, ages 3 and 5, were dropped over a 10- to 15-foot-tall border wall by a local cartel.
Several unaccompanied youth walked for days to keep up with a group from Guatemala.
Refugees who speak English as a second language struggled with English classes taught in their local community.
These and many like them need help, and many Christian organizations in Texas and other border states are actively involved in refugee ministries.
El Paso Baptist Association is prepared for a new outreach ministry to serve migrants coming from all over the world to El Paso.
Larry Floyd, executive director, worked with members of Scottsdale Baptist Church in Arizona to have a Life Center ready for adults and families as of July 1. Only those from family units can be part of the ministry; unaccompanied children cannot be served.
“When the Border Patrol calls and says they have migrants coming, we will be ready,” Floyd said.
“We have congregations and individuals across the U.S. who call and want to help,” he noted.
“People ask how they can be involved in spreading the gospel to migrants: we need prayers, volunteers and financial assistance.”
Floyd offered suggestions to help:
- Maybe you can’t come, but you want to give?
Go to elpasoba.org/give and use the drop-down arrow to select immigration border ministry.
- Give through an Amazon list.
Go to tabonline.org/el-paso-wishlist to see the needs, which include clothing, bedding, baby items and first-aid supplies.
- Missions opportunities are available in the area for those who can come. Floyd is available to discuss options.
Michael Garman, pastor of Eastridge Baptist Church, serves an international group of refugees in the northeast section of Amarillo.
Individuals, families and children comprise 26 language groups and numerous religions in a population of 10,000. Only 8% speak English.
These are legal immigrants who work in the meat processing plants in Amarillo.
“Our work at Eastridge is to meet the needs of these refugees,” Garman explained. “We try to help with housing, employment, paperwork to buy cars to take them to work, paperwork to buy houses, ESL classes and assistance when they apply for citizenship in our country.”
Eastridge sponsors a missions center, a safe place with after-school programs for children and youth called “Kingdom Kids.” Children receive a snack, supervised play, a Bible lesson and prayer. Families are reached for Christ through the program.
Although Garman has many favorite verses, Psalm 118:24 speaks to him: “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
“When the pandemic started, I prayed for a better day tomorrow. Now I realize all days are good,” Garman said. “They are ‘His’ days. They are filled with opportunities, challenges and blessings; each one is a gift in its own way. So I learned to be thankful, no matter what.
“Of course, this was not easy when we lost people. We had to plan outdoor services, even drive-by funeral viewing, and I had to tell the refugees they couldn’t gather and have celebrations in their homes.
“But in all those days, each one made us lean on Him and trust Him. I’m grateful for that.”
Garman said his church came back stronger after the pandemic. Many of the refugee families who received food started attending Eastridge.
“Services were online, and refugees from other counties told their relatives and friends about our Facebook page. These people have an opportunity to hear the same messages our people at Eastridge are hearing. The message of God’s love is reaching people all over the world.”
Mayfield Park Baptist Church in San Antonio, like the rest of the country, is seeing more alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and unemployment, especially during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. The area is one of the poorest in San Antonio and in the lowest economic region, home to many refugees. These factors create mental health problems.
Pastor Mike Sutton noted, “God can turn around any situation.”
In addition to meeting needs with food and clothing, one of the programs the church offers is Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program consisting of a 12-step ministry dealing with “hurts, habits and hangups.” Meeting each Friday night, child care is provided. After a meal, large and small group sessions are planned for both men and women.
“I feel so blessed that God has called me into this ministry,” Sutton said. “My prayer is that readers will be encouraged to serve others … to do something for Christ and His people.”