Sometimes a few hours is all you need to make an eternal difference at the border. In April, Pastor Carlos Navarro of Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville (West Brownsville Baptist) answered the call of city leaders to open his church as a respite shelter fo
Each migrant receives a change of fresh clothing. Church member Silvia Martinez assists little Javier from Guatemala as his parents look on. The family is bound for North Carolina.
Javier seems pleased with his new shirt and his parents are grateful.
After they select clean clothing, the refugees head outside for a shower, shampoo or shave, if they wish. Here SBTC DR volunteer Mark Hansen of Athens, who grew up in nearby San Benito, helps as church member Silvia Salazar gives directions. Migrants may
The church provides an outdoor vanity, mirror and toiletries for ladies … and shaving essentials for men in a separate outdoor area. Most discard their dirty, worn clothes in nearby waste bins.
Little Emily from Honduras seems pleased with her new outfit. “They are so happy to be able to take a shower,” said Diane Navarro, wife of Pastor Carlos. 6b. Lorena, Emily’s mom, combs her daughter’s hair. The pair will journey to Maryland to join
Emily is a happy girl, ready for lunch.
Some, like this Central American family, arrive at the shelter too exhausted to bathe or eat. They are directed to a quiet, darkened room to rest upon Red Cross cots.
Emily and Lorena move to the kitchen area, where the church’s Elida Zamora serves a simple meal of frijoles and eggs, cautioning the girl that the food is hot. Later that day, the local Chick-Fil-A provides 25 sandwiches, as the restaurant has done for
While the migrants choose clothes, clean up and eat, they are called up one family group at a time to register with Diane Navarro, who explains what to expect as they leave the shelter, including procedures for contacting immigration and the importance of
Church deacon Rito Sanchez similarly counsels shelter guests in their responsibilities.
A young Central American mother waits for counseling with her baby.
Church member Oralia DeLeon invites a tableful of young migrants to pray. DeLeon has been chatting with the young people and has shared the truth of Jesus Christ. More than 1,000 have trusted Christ.
The room is filled with casual conversation and constructive help. Those who have expressed faith in Jesus receive encouragement to find churches in their destinations and information on how to contact Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville for help in finding
Pastor Carlos jokes with a young Central American migrant.
All boys love superheroes. The shelter provides the children with crayons, coloring books and even Spiderman posters to occupy them as they wait.
As the transport van approaches, migrants soon to leave for the bus station and their destinations in the US receive packets of donated snacks and water for the journey.
The Brownsville police officer who will drive the van waits in front of the Lake Athens shower trailer at the pickup spot at the side of the church as the migrants scheduled to leave at this time begin to board.
Vans come to the shelter from 6:00 am to around 8:30 each morning and leave in the afternoon as bus schedules dictate.
Navarro welcomes each arriving vanload and also bids each migrant farewell personally.
No vanload pulls out without a time of prayer and blessing.