Southwest Good
Samaritan Ministries

2017 Advent Meditation

Advent Greetings!

We are waiting expectantly for the Christ-child during this Advent season. As we wait, we plan and prepare. Our relentless hope, a faith that sparks peace, and abiding joy in our work together take on special meaning. We seek to bring God’s Love to fruition in the world. We do this for the babe we are celebrating, and for a ministry that is carried out in His name.

At this time of year, we look back on our gifts and challenges that we have faced with the LORD over this past year and our past 25 years. We also seek God’s vision in planning for a better future together. For this, all of us are needed. We need you to pray with us, for us, and work along side us through this season and all the coming year. Only by working together can we make the difference we hope to see in the world.

In our work, we remember the words of Mary in the Magnificat – her hope, peace, joy, and love.

“My soul glorifies the Lord

                and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

For he has been mindful

                of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

                for the Mighty One has done great things for me –

                Holy is His name.

His mercy extends to those who fear him,

                from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

                He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down ruler from their thrones

                but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things

                but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

                remembering to be merciful

To Abraham and his descendants forever,

                even as he said to our fathers.”

                                                Luke 1:46-55


HOPE

      

Food to Sustain…             Safe Housing…                 Clothing for Job Interviews…        Fellowship and Spiritual Care

It is the Hope to Make a Difference in the world that is represented by the first Advent Calendar. And, it is that same Hope that we have seen throughout the year. When all else is failing, it is hope of a better future that keeps those with critical needs going. “Our hope is in the LORD’” we say, but our hope is also in those willing to take up the spreading of the hope through their actions done in the name of the Christ-child.

Over the last few years we have seen a trend which has increased over the last six months. Refugees are spending longer in our facilities because the court systems are moving slower and the process has been lengthened.

Where possible we work for a change of venue in our adult cases to allow for family reunification. Being good stewards of our resources, we use buses, not planes, and provide food and appropriate clothing for their journeys. Over 300 refugees have been helped in this way in 2017. This represents expenditures in excess of $85,000, some from personal donations in excess of the budgeted amount, and many hours of staff time. 

Other times when there is no family to unite with, we become their home and Family of God until they are on their feet legally, emotionally, and financially. This process can take weeks, months, or years.

In one case, a family has been in our facilities, not having other family in the U.S., for over two years. Because of the torture and trauma at the hand of gangs in Guatemala, then by those along their escape, the complicated trauma of the mother and daughter require on-going counseling to prepare them to accurately present their cases with the immigration lawyers in asylum court. They are able now to begin absorbing English in the group classes in preparation for jobs.

Among our refugees receiving legal immigration status this year, two young women received political status here. Their hopes had been fulfilled. We celebrated with them on Thanksgiving Day at Casa Pereira with the refugees helping in the preparation and serving, as one Family of God, before sending them to their new home in other states.

One of the refugees from Cuba, a former college professor and now a legal U.S. immigrant, has been able to relocate here. He has been a great help with facilities and hospitality while looking for appropriate work. We are pleased to announce that he has found a wonderful position as a caregiver for youth during their immigration court process. We hope you will celebrate with him in this new part of his life this month.

Because the process in the local sub-court has become slower, in the coming year we will be helping the adult* refugees with funds for relocation and family unifications as quickly as possible to other areas of the country. We see this as a growing need for transportation in the next year. We hope that your families and churches will open their hearts and homes to the refugees that have no other family here, helping to find them clinics and legal aid for completing their petitions for asylum more quickly. We hope to grow and expand our network of resources to meet the ever growing and changing needs of the refugees.

Prayer:  We pray for the refugees whose hope you sustain along their long and perilous journeys. Help us to understand our part in your plan and to respond compassionately to the needs with our hearts and heads. We humbly ask that you show us the ways to minister and provide the resources to fulfill Your will for all your children that we might be conduits of Your HOPE.

*Youth relocations and reunifications are handled through the detention system and immigration courts.

PEACE      

                             

Warm Clothes…                 Nutritious Food…                      Caring for the Ill with Healthcare Equipment

In a world that is chaotic and often violent, it is faith in things unseen that brings peace to those of few means – those living in the landfill, the chronically ill, and the children without stable families.

The children at Casa Betel teach us about peace through faith. They have faith that food, clothing, education and medical care will be possible through their petitions in prayer to the God of Life. Through Good Samaritan Ministries of the Southwest, you have been a part of providing beans and rice for the daily nutrition of up to 35 children and their caregivers. Together we have sent clothing and toys to the children. These are acts that bring not only survival, but delight. Their faith is manifest into peace of mind, body, and spirit.

Another way we maximize our impact is through supporting the outreach of Rev. Abel Cardona in the landfill of Matamoros. The ability to organize for communal cooking allows a double level of faith fulfilled.  The beans and rice you provide for as many as 250 people each day is cooked and served mostly by those who make their living from scavenging the landfill.

This concept of working together to build stronger systems to serve in Mexico has long been a way of life for Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries and Casa Bugambilia medical mission. From providing basic beans and rice for the patients, families, and caregivers to providing U.S. side storage for donated wheelchairs, in small but important ways, you are part of moving lives from faith to peace.

Prayer:  We pray for hearts to open to the needs of the many who sleep tonight in peace because you were part of fulfilling their faith and bringing peace. We pray that our hands and feet might do your work so that we are conduits of Your PEACE.

 

JOY

        

Beans and Rice Project…                                Toys, Clothes, and Household Goods from Mike’s Kids

You have supported Good Samaritan Ministries through your prayers, your financial contributions, and your gifts and talents. We count each of you as a true JOY in this hurting world.

You have made a difference in the lives of the children, the parents, the working and the jobless, the old and the ill. Refugees and survivors of torture have gained hope. Those in Mexico have been strengthened in their faith. Working together we have brought relief to those in the desperation of poverty.

 Together, we helped with feeding, clothing, housing, and transportation. Together, we found legal services and medical care. God’s work for us is not finished. In fact, it is still barely begun. Now more than ever your support through gifts and presence with us.

We would like to especially give thanks for the work we have been able to do better and more successfully by working together.  For those who have adopted and maintained special ministries for years and even decades.

To Mike’s Kids, a ministry of North Texas Area of the Christian Church, has been faithful to the refugees since 1987 when they were being housed in Iglesia Ebenezer. Your toys, games and gifts bring smiles in a world with little to bring the joys of childhood. Clothes collected and delivered to us from North Texas through the Mike’s Kids ministry area are sorted, stored, and available as the season and need arise. (As we write this, it is much colder than usual in The Valley. Your coats are being used and appreciated. We look forward to your coming this week.)

We are constantly grateful for beans from many of our areas and churches. The 45,000 pounds of rice this year from the Coastal Plains provided great nourishment for so many hundreds of people during 2017. The Beans and Rice project means that everyone eats something every day. Eating every day means living for another day. Your gift is a gift of life.

We want to express our gratitude to the Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and to our board for their support, guidance, and dedication. Please keep your hearts open to donating through the beans and rice project and Mike’s Kids, or to our administrative services to make coordination and dissemination of life saving donations available throughout The Valley area. Designated individual donations for the $82,000 refugee unification budget are much needed.

Prayer:  We pray together and lift up our work to, as Mary said in the Magnificat, “fill the hungry with good things.” We rejoice in the groups that have been dedicated to our ministries together. We hold the individuals who have found a special calling to support us and keep Good Samaritan Ministries in their hearts throughout the years in our prayers. We pray for our budget, for sustained support throughout the coming year as we seek to help more of God’s children in their basic needs for clothing, shelter, food, and safety.

LOVE

        

Building Relationships…                   Celebrating Together…                     Serving “the least of these”

We spread God’s Love through your gifts to the refugee children first, and then to children on both sides of the border. We are guided by the belief that God’s love is for ALL God’s children of all ages.

The many collaborating organizations with whom we have developed close working relationships allow Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries to magnify your gifts to thousands more people. We are grateful for the close working relationship with La Posada Providencia in San Benito to offer complimentary services and languages and for the friendship of working with many of the same challenges. We thank God for our relationships with the ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and over 20 churches and ministries on both sides of the border. We are pleased to find volunteers often appear through the grace of God when special needs arise.

Churches and ministries through which we distribute beans and rice sign a receipt and take 50 or 100lbs of beans and rice according to needs. They distribute these to the families most in need taken to the churches on the Mexico side, and have pictures taken of the families receiving their weekly or monthly portions. We look forward to showing you in pictures during the next year how God’s LOVE is spread through all that you do. If you feel called to minister with us, please contact us .

Prayer:  We pray for the continued strength of our network of friends who allow us to more effectively do Your work. We humbly recognize our inability to do your will alone. We ask that you show us how to work together to bring Your LOVE to a hurting world. Oh God, open our hearts and show us the way to your vision of our lives and how best to share our gifts and talents. As you rain down blessings on us, help us to be good stewards.

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