Updated: Aug 13, 2019
My intention with this blog was to make sure that on a regular basis, you are hearing from your pastor. I want you to know my heart, and I want to be able to share with you ways in which our church is living into God’s Kingdom. Today, though, I find my words insufficient compared to another’s. Our own Marcus McMullin has spent the last few weeks driving to and from Eagle Pass, where he has been serving as a missionary to those seeking asylum in our country. He sent me this write-up of his experience,
and I feel compelled to share it with you:
"I know the Puritans came to America for religious freedom. Hordes of European immigrants came here from everywhere for a better life, arriving at Ellis Island or any one of many other ports of entry. Now Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Laredo and a host of other Texas border cities have become mini Ellis Islands. At this time of our
history, people are fleeing their home countries because of government corruption, gang violence, and human rights violations. For the past three weeks I have witnessed hundreds of mostly small families who have crossed over the border from Mexico into Eagle Pass to seek asylum. The largest percentage have come from Honduras, but many have also come from South America—Venezuela, Brazil, Chili and Ecuador—the Caribbean—Haiti and Cuba—and Central America—Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Some have traveled even farther, arriving from the African countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. A small percentage come from Mexico. Upon their arrival at the border, these asylum seekers are met with chaos. They are given legal entry into the U.S.A. and are released on the streets in Eagle Pass. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have no safe place to take them, due to the lack of proper facilities, and on the streets, transportation operations and others seek out ways to take advantage of the immigrants.
It is at this point that Mission: Border Hope steps in. This organization is a small group of committed Christ minded volunteers directed by United Methodist Pastor Becky Ballou. They serve as an intake point for these incoming migrants, showing them welcome and helping them start the next part of their journey. Daily, CBP brings up to a hundred documented people to the old, defunct Iglesia Metodista La Trinidad. This church building has been converted into a receiving center to help immigrants find their way to their new home, if even temporary. Once they are dropped off by CBP, we greet them at the door and start the process of getting them on the way to their destination.
First we seat the new group in the church's old sanctuary for orientation. How appropriate to use a church and its sanctuary to welcome people into a new beginning! The cross hanging in the background to remind us of giving without measure. We show a map of the United States and their current location of Eagle Pass to show the distance still to go. We then provide advice for transportation services to San Antonio and beyond, access to phones to call a contact person for financial help and for travel. We put the information from their U.S. government documents into a data base to show who and where our guests are going. We then invite them into the kitchen area for a meal and a change of clothes. Many immigrants have traveled hundreds to a few thousand miles in the same clothes. Some have crossed the dangerous river to hurry the process to get into the U.S. They come to the facility in damp and dirty clothes.
Usually our guests stay with us on an average of one or two hours and then they get on the bus to start their journey. Before they go we get a chance to talk to them, ask where they are from, where they are going and wishing them a safe trip. Many have stories of their journeys, mostly good and some not so good.
All of this work is done by volunteers. Some work at greeting, computer processing, and orientation. Others have bathroom, dining room, and kitchen duty.
There is sweeping and mopping the building and folding and arranging clothes. We take in and store donations throughout the day. The volunteers come from different U.M.C.’s in our area. San Angelo, Boerne, Austin, Wimberley, Marble Falls, Eagle Pass and Kerrville. Many local people have dropped off food and clothing to help our cause. Samaritans Purse, UMCOR, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have given donations. The border authorities have donated articles and have been supporters of the facility, too. I have enjoyed being a part of the bigger picture of Christ in action! Working with others that have the servants heart. People with compassion for fellow human beings no matter their origin.
My church has provided me with years of practice. Everything I have done here in Eagle Pass is an echo of what many in the congregation have shown me and others. For that I am eternally grateful. Will you join me in passing it on to the world in Christs name?"
If you would like to help in a very tangible way, our church will be sending supplies down to Eagle Pass on a regular basis. Marcus has provided this current needs list for us. Please feel free to purchase and drop off any of the following to the church office:
Shoe laces, smaller lengths
Kids clothes all sizes
Socks, clean used is good
Zip lock bags quart or 1/2 gallon size
Small water glasses
Small disposable bowls
Clothes for teenage girls and boys
- Pastor Wes