Since I was about 14 years old, I went on mission trips almost every year to the Rio Grande Valley with Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries. SWGSM was founded in 1996 by Cuban Refugee and Disciples Minister Feliberto Pereira. I have a long-list of cherished memories from these trips, which we do not have enough time to cover today.
These experiences without a doubt changed my life. They significantly widened my worldview, they changed my understanding of what it means to love our neighbor and reach out to the “least of these.” My stereotypes and assumptions were challenged, my previously held viewpoints of “us vs. them” were dissolved as I began build relationships and witness the stories. Ultimately, my experiences on these trips influenced my journey into a life of ministry.
The current needs are many and great. As my heart has been breaking from afar I could no longer stand idly by. I will be traveling to the border for a week, leaving next Sunday Dec. 2 to do whatever I can to help. I recognize that just a week of distributing basic necessities and offering basic care is not going to “fix” the huge complicated problems, yet, I faithfully go believing that even the small gestures of compassion and kindness will kindle some hope and provide some encouragement.
For a variety of reasons, hundreds of people from a multitude of countries are anxiously waiting along the border. They are waiting to be legally processed as refugees and asylum seekers in hopes of a better life, or in many cases, just life.
On the U.S. side of the border they wait for family and friends to arrive, they wait for family and friends to be released from detention or processing centers, they wait to be relocated to their assigned immigration sponsors. On the Mexican side they wait for entrance into the U.S. to begin the legal process of applying for asylum and/or to be reunited with family and friends. They wait and hope and pray.
Many are desperately fleeing their homes from fear of violence, rape, famine, and death. After treacherously traveling thousands of miles, most find themselves stuck in an unknown place with only the clothes upon their backs. Yet, they wait.
Despite our individual views on politics and policy, none of us can deny that there is colossal need here. These are human-beings seeking compassion and clinging to hope.
As a fellow human-being, as a Christian, I cannot ignore the mandates to “love our neighbors”, to “feed God’s sheep”, to lovingly provide for the “least of these.”Many organizations and grass-roots groups are faithfully attempting to care for these individuals and families. They are overwhelmed with the need and would appreciate any help you can give.
During my trip to the Valley I will be working with many of these groups, primarily through Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries. I will likely be distributing food, clothing, toiletries, and other basic necessities. I will be providing basic medical assistance as needed and offering a ministry of presence and prayer.
If you are wanting to help, there are many ways.
Casey Peters Tanguay