SBTC DR crews assist Salvation Army along the Texas/Mexico border
June 6th, 2019 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
EL PASO and DEL RIO When James and Dana Greer accompanied Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief volunteers to Del Rio along the Texas/Mexico border to support Salvation Army feeding operations responding to the migrant crisis, their experience as former missionaries to Tanzania helped them break language barriers.
Greer used language apps on his cell phone to facilitate communication. With the assistance of a local Spanish-speaking pastor, they held an impromptu church service attended by around 50 migrants, some of whom were believers and some of whom seemed unfamiliar with the songs and message.
The Sunday services continued in succeeding weeks. DR volunteer Jerry Lawrence, 81, of Jasper found the people receptive, warm and full of faith.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Lawrence said, explaining that the migrants he met were in family units, often with two parents. “They joined in services. All had Bibles. They were eager to participate and to learn English.” Lawrence enjoyed interacting with the children.
Greer, Top o’ Texas Baptist Association director of missions, told the TEXAN he was not surprised to receive some criticism for joining other SBTC volunteers in providing shower and laundry support at the border. He stressed that the migrants served had entered the country legally and had destinations and sponsors in the states.
“Our job has not changed over the calling that comes from the Gospels, and that is to share the gospel clearly and precisely. I would rather stand before my Father with the certainty that I was doing what I was led to do than to stand before him knowing that I had not when I could have,” Greer said.
Migrants had passed through security, been vetted by the border patrol and undergone medical screening before arriving at the temporary shelter, Lawrence said.
Since SBTC DR answered the Salvation Army’s request for help in mid-May, small crews have rotated in and out to man the shower/laundry unit. The SBTC’s DR bunkhouse is also on site, housing Salvation Army and SBTC volunteers.
The Del Rio mission and a similar deployment to El Paso, where small teams of SBTC DR feeding volunteers are assisting Salvation Army efforts to feed migrants detained in a local shelter, mark a “renewed partnership with the Salvation Army,” said Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director.
Since May 5, DR volunteers have helped prepare and serve from 600 to 1,400 meals per day in El Paso, DR task force member Dewey Watson confirmed.
The El Paso deployment is expected to continue through the end of June while volunteers will remain in Del Rio till June 16.