Bibles, Bears & the Border
Doug Stringer recently returned from visiting the Rio Grande Valley, meeting with church and ministry partners who are working with flood relief efforts as well as with families coming through processing centers in McAllen and other locations.
“Regardless of one’s political view on the complexities facing the border,” Doug said, “it’s our job as the Church to be the tangible expression of Christ in the midst of every situation, presenting the Gospel.”
Joining Doug was Mark Roye from Somebody Cares San Antonio along with Barri and Ann Marie Strait from Bernabe Latin American Ministries, who have been working in the region for over 30 years. The Straits have also been involved with Calvary Commission’s Bethany Josiah Orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico, where Turning Point Ministries International has sent teams to serve since the 1980s.
“The border is a complex issue, but also an important one,” Barri stated. Before Doug’s arrival, the Straits had been passing out Somebody Cares bears and Bibles supplied by SCA at the processing center in McAllen, where many come each day who are seeking asylum.
“Every child wanted a bear, and every family wanted a Bible,” he said. “One worker told us that no one had come with Bibles, and she was pleased because she knows the importance of God’s Word.”
Doug and the others visited the bus station where, twice daily, the detention and transition centers bring over many of those who have been processed and released. They distributed Bibles, some of Doug’s book that are published in Spanish, and Somebody Cares bears. Doug, Mark, and Barri also did a prayer journey along a portion of the Texas-Mexico border and near the Hidalgo-Reynosa bridge.
Along with those attempting to enter the country illegally, Mark noted, there are those coming from truly bad situations in other nations who are seeking asylum through the right channels. “You could feel the heart of hopelessness,” he commented. “But we believe that we, as the Church, have hope to give in hopeless times,” he said.
The complexities of the matter are many, Doug explained, ranging from problems caused by drug cartels; human traffickers that use and misuse women and children; issues faced daily by local residents; and the stories of each individual and their reasons for their journeys. Some of our partners working locally cited problems caused by outside agitators and media reports.
“There are a lot of good-hearted people we have been partnering with in the Rio Grande Valley over the years,” Doug said. He will be returning to the area in September to host a roundtable with churches, ministries, and business leaders desiring to set up Somebody Cares Rio Grande Valley outreach centers in the area.
Prior to Doug’s visit, Dr. Edward Smith, SCA’s International Director of Chaplaincy, visited the area to assess the needs. Practical needs include:
- Powdered milk
- Pre-natal vitamins
- Adult cough syrup
- Benedryl (pills and liquid)
- Tylenol or other adult pain medicine
- Pedialyte for dehydration
- Hair riboons for women and girls
- De-tangler hair brushes
- Diarrhea meidicine
- Cough drops
- Probe covers
- Small cups (like dixie cups)
- Snack size Ziplocs (for dispensing pills)
SCA is also sending resources to some of our partners to help in the aftermath of the recent floods.
If you have an interest in donating items, please contact our office at 713-621-1498 or [email protected]. Or you can designate a financial donation by selecting “Other Fund” and typing “Rio Grande Valley” when you give through our website.