SWGSM ACTIVE IN AUTUMN
Please grant me personal privilege as I begin this letter with my own story.
November is always a month of special gratitude for me, as it was in this month in 1969 that I and members of my family flew out of Varadero airport in Cuba to freedom in the United States. This photo is sketchy, but the image stays in my heart. I did not want to leave my homeland, my parents and siblings, and all the others I loved there. I left students and parishioners. Yet I and other refugees on that Freedom flight sponsored by the United States and Swiss governments were cheering and lifting up prayers of gratitude for this salvation for ourselves and those few family members who were allowed to accompany us. I was escaping years in a forced labor camp in Castro’s Cuba. My crime? I refused to stop preaching the Gospel.
In the decades since, I have sought to pay it forward by ministering to refugees and others who are impoverished or otherwise in need of the kind of help Jesus has asked us to give. I’m including some photos from that work in recent weeks, with appreciation for the support and prayers you consistently provide. Everybody has a story, and so often it is triumph over danger and heartache. But it is not just the stories of refugees that we learn here. It is the stories of volunteers who consistently report that their lives are changed through service to others. So often volunteers also have stories of triumph over danger and heartache. With the wonders of technology and ancestral websites, so many are finding loved ones – including ancestors who fled their homeland to survive and thrive in the United States. We are thankful for an opportunity to see what a large percentage of us were welcomed into this land, perhaps 51 years ago and perhaps generations ago. So in this year of 2020, when we suffer through pandemic and other divides, please join me in recognition that all God’s creatures bleed the same. We weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We are one in Christ Jesus.
At Thanksgiving, as we have in previous years, we will serve with other partners in ministry here in the Valley – serving up food and love to those seeking a meal and a place. If you cannot join us, I know you will be with us in spirit. I will be lifting up special prayers of gratitude for you.
Every month, we transport and feed refugees released from detention centers that are granted political asylum. Last month, we provided assistance to 29 refugees representing 9 different countries that include Mexico, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Greece, El Salvador, Peru, and Bolivia. Asylum seekers are relocated all over the US and reunite with family members and sponsors.
We continue delivering goods to our community every week with the help of Farmers to Families and the churches in our community. Thousands of people have benefited from these activities. Pastor Chad Bresson from The Lutheran Church in Los Fresnos, TX leads these activities.
Every thanksgiving, we provide meals for the refugee community and we have served in the past an average of 70 people that include poor families nearby. This year, the bar has been raised. The Original Willie’s BBQ in Alamo, TX and the Gonzalez family are donating 150 plates to help the refugee community.
We currently house 11 refugees in our facilities representing 2 countries, Mexico, and Honduras. They are currently on their legal processes to obtain asylum and we have also assisted financially to make sure they obtain resettlement. We provide room and board for them for as long as they need it.
Your Partner in Christ
Rev. Feliberto Pereira
Founder & Executive Director