Many times, mission teams come to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to minister in some way. Recently, however, I had a volunteer group minister to the Valley from home.
A while back, I received a phone call from Sarah Hatch of the First Baptist Church of Brownwood, Texas. Sarah is the Children’s Minister there, and was asking about ways to help with literacy ministry from afar. She also wanted to teach her local children about my particular mission on the border during the upcoming summer Vacation Bible School. So we came up with a very practical way for the children to learn AND to actually participate in the ministry without leaving town.
RESULT: Below is a very colorful photo of the beautiful bookmarks that the VBS children made themselves, and then had shipped to the RGV. I will be handing these out to children who attend one of the local Books for the Border and Beyond book fairs hosted by churches or schools here in the RGV.
Thank you to Sarah Hatch, VBS children, and to FBC Brownwood for figuring out how to engage in ministry from home! May God continue to increase your knowledge of ways to share Christ’s love with others.
Here on the border of Texas, there are many ways for individuals to volunteer their time and effort, or to bring whole groups to participate in a variety of mission endeavors.
My main need for volunteers is in the area of teaching ESL, or English Second Language. If you have some ESL teaching experience, then you can volunteer for a semester or more. I will provide the curriculum and the assignment, which will be in partnership with the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center, a faith-based non-profit with classes throughout Hidalgo County. No Spanish required.
Or, if you are especially knowledgeable about a certain academic subject matter, say MATH or ENGLISH, then you are also invited to come teach a GED class for a semester. We offer prep classes for all of the high school equivalency exams, but we do require the the teacher have a college degree in the subject matter. For these two volunteer opportunities, I will work directly with the volunteer on housing and other personal options. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(Volunteer teacher from Dallas with ESL class shown below)
The third way you can volunteer is in the field of construction. Occasionally I come across a need, such as the painting project shown below, and can refer you to light construction requests. Mostly however, construction opportunities along the border go through CBF of Texas, the state-level organization of CBF. The contact for CBF Texas border construction projects is Jorge Zapata at 956-873-1537.
(Church volunteers from Louisiana painting an ESL classroom )
I participated in a outdoor prayer vigil on Sunday afternoon, June 24, in Brownsville, TX. We came together at 5pm, and yes, it was hot. But the Salvation Army, faithful as always, came to pass out water and snacks. It was a gathering of faith based groups, wanting to come together to pray for the detained children who’ve crossed the southern US border from Latin America, and are being held in a large detention center, what looks to be an old Wal-mart store. There is a re-cap already written, that I’d like to share that document link with you to offer a little insight as to what was said and prayed for.
Praise God! I’m very happy to report that 25 large box fans have been provided by donors! My short fundraiser for the FAN Club project is over for this year, and distribution is underway. It’s already been over 100 degrees here on the border (as in most of Texas), so this ministry is very timely as we head into summer.
Thanks to all who donated. Your participation matters.
I serve on the Advisory Board of the Rio Grande Valley Literacy Center. Today, the Director of the Literacy Center, Diana Farias, called me for a meeting. We ended up meeting with Dr. Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa from the Leadership Empowerment Group of the RGV/San Antonio. Barbara has proposed that her organization directly partner with the Literacy Center in an effort to offer job training classes in Mercedes, TX. Not only will the job training classes benefit students from Mercedes, but can also benefit adult students who are already enrolled in literacy classes throughout Hidalgo County. This is a grant funded opportunity offered by Texas Workforce Solutions, and we are excited to be bringing this opportunity to the Rio Grande Valley. The training will mostly benefit those who live below the poverty line. Our goal will be to help them gain some work skills while learning English, or while they study for the GED exam. We said “YES!”
My main goal here in the Valley is to help address systemic poverty as addressed in scripture, and this partnership opportunity is another step toward reaching that goal. Thanks be to God!
“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13 NIV
(Photo: Diann Berry, Diana Farias, Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa)
One of my ministry partners is CBF West, which is a regional group of ministers/volunteers within CBF life who volunteer to encourage churches and ministries in the western U.S. Brand new for 2918, I’m serving as Moderator of the Council which leads this effort, and I’m excited. Here’s the folks I work with, representing 13 states (below).
We have just been invited to host a mission effort in the Navajo nation area of Leupp, AZ, near Flagstaff. Our site host is Pastor Greg Long (far right in the photo) and his wife Sheila, who are both from the area. The event will take place August 2-4, 2019, and volunteers are needed. I’ll keep you informed!
Each spring I promote the FAN Club, which is a chance for people to easily take part in a very practical and simple ministry here on the border. Donations are collected, box fans are bought with the donations, and fans are dispersed to families beginning in May.
Why fans? Many of the impoverished families I see living in colonias in the Rio Grande Valley do not have air-conditioning in their homes. I’ve been in some of these homes during the summertime, and I’ve experienced just how miserable and stifling 100+ degrees can be with no breeze, especially with the humidity typical to the area. It’s no wonder that even all the way back to Genesis 3:8a, scripture talks about “the cool of the day”. I’ve never met anyone who prefers the heat of the day, especially here on the border!
A $25 donation to the FAN Club means that I will have some fans available to give to these families when summer arrives. If you’d like to join the FAN Club and provide a fan or two, just go to the link below, and look for the photo of a box fan. Stay cool!