Advent Greetings, Friends,
The renowned poet Emily Dickinson wrote: “The world is not conclusion.” People of faith understand that well and understand also that Jesus’ coming into the world was a new beginning. We embrace this season of Advent as the beginning of a new church year. It’s a season of anticipation. No matter what we have had to confront in the past year – including COVID, economic decline, injustice – we observe this season with HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE. It is in that spirit that we are launching this season and the year ahead. My only look back is at the saints who have made Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries what it is today, having served refugees and “the least of these” in the Rio Grande Valley for over 30 years. That includes YOU, faithful partners in prayer and stewardship. I lift up today those faithful partners who work for me and for God in this place.
Here I am with Raquel and Carlos. Raquel has served in Disciples ministries for decades, including employment in the denomination’s national offices in Indianapolis. She agreed to move back here, to her home area, to help me launch this ministry in the 1980’s. She was “mission control” – an indispensable (yet often invisible) component of our serving in the Valley. Even after retiring just a few years ago, she continues to serve the ministry in important ways. She and I are united in a belief that friends of God never retire, and we love serving God. At the other end of the age spectrum from me and Raquel is Carlos, a seminarian who has been our “mission control” and part of our outreach ministry in Matamoros, Mexico for over a year now. He graciously serves without pay. I have big plans for him and pray that God will lead us both into the best future through God’s will.
Carmen is another who has served this ministry for decades as our housekeeper. In this COVID time, she has shifted responsibilities and added duties to maintain a clean and safe environment for us and those we care for here. Her role is behind the scenes, and her compensation is modest. But she is a priceless participant in our work.
Others of our local volunteer corps include Esther and Juanita. Both are leaders in the church I serve here, but so often volunteer to help wherever they see the need. Esther hosted mission trip groups in her home for Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries this year, and we particularly appreciate Juanita’s contributions to our music ministries.
The ones who are always here are the ones most often overlooked when we tell our story, and I’m sorry I do not have space to lift up all of our year-round volunteers. Thank you for indulging me this opportunity to acknowledge the HOPE, PEACE, JOY AND LOVE their work brings to those we serve. We are one with you in Christ, Sisters and Brothers, and I will be excited to bring you more GOOD NEWS in 2021.
God’s richest blessings on your Advent season,
Rev. Feliberto Pereira