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A Mexico mission trip, on the U.S. side of the border

Kassie, 6, enjoys a snack at the Alton Church of Christ’s Vacation Bible School put on by a youth group from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston. (Photo by Tamie Ross)

Blogging from Alton, Texas
Will Mexico’s loss be South Texas’ gain?
No one wants to see short-term missions come to a grinding halt in Mexico. But violence and other concerns are keeping many U.S. groups from crossing the border. I personally know of three trips canceled this summer and one mission that is no longer guiding groups into the country.
Given the border concerns, one logical stop might be just short of the international boundary: the Rio Grande Valley.
My 11-year-old daughter, Kendall, and I spent last week with a team from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston as they worked a mile or two from the border in Hidalgo County, partnering with the North Pharr Church of Christ.
While it has less than 100 members, the North Pharr congregation has planted a dozen or so Churches of Christ in South Texas and northern Mexico. The border church also oversees a mammoth mission that draws work crews from all over Texas as well as states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky.

Jacob Arnold of the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston applies primer to one of five houses that teenage mission workers painted during a recent mission trip to South Texas. (Photo by Tamie Ross)

North Pharr members are passionate about improving the quality of life for their neighbors – 89 percent of whom are Hispanic. Under the church’s leadership, three to four houses are built each year for needy families. Many other homes are renovated, repaired, painted and made more livable.
I’ve been on several spring break mission trips to Mexico, and I caught myself comparing my experience on the U.S. side of the border to the ones I’ve had beyond. The scenery is similar, the people familiar. The smiles and receptive hearts and need for Jesus are universal.
Quite honestly, I had what I considered to be my typical Mexico trip experience without packing my passport – or the border-crossing anxiety I’ve swallowed in recent years in order to make the trip with my family and church.
I intended to go as a worker, not as a writer for The Christian Chronicle, but this is a story that begs to be told.
Needless to say, I quickly filled a notebook, and the photos I took will come in quite handy. Now if my writing chops aren’t too rusty, we may be in business!

  • Feedback
    I know it’s a little more expensive, but there’s good work to be done in cooperation with Churches of Christ in Brazil. Food for thought….
    Adam Gonnerman
    August, 10 2010
    The danger at the Mexican border is greatly exagerated and Satan is using fear to keep these important works from continuing in Mexico. Read Romans 8:15 and pray for strength to continue.
    August, 11 2010
    The “danger is greatly exaggerated”?..Danny, can you clarify what you mean and on what basis you are making this comment so boldly? Are you a Mexican national or a US citizen? And do you live at or near the border?
    August, 11 2010
    I am the preacher of the Tyler Street in Brownsville, Texas and have been here for 37 years. We do mission work in Matamoros, Tamaulipas which is across the international bridge. We have a Bible School in Matamoros also and right now we have 7 students. This school has been going on for 5 years and we have no had an incident with the supposedly violence.
    Erasmo Castro
    August, 12 2010
    I have lived in the Rio Grande Valley all of my life which spans more that four decades. All of these I have been a member of the church of Christ and have worked directly with the church in Mexico preaching, medical campaigns and missionary trips and cannot mention any incident that would deter me to continue the Lord’s work. We live in a time where we have so much access to information, yet if our generation has taught us anything it is not to believe everything that is portrayed by the media.
    I am sorry to say that I have never seen the dozen or so Churches of Christ that were planted by the North Pharr congregation in South Texas. I will say that I tend to disagree with the ideology of brining in individuals via food banks and used clothing bazaars as this provides only a temporary attendance, if at all. There is a Chinese proverb that declares something to the nature of, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. This same concept can be attributed to individuals or congregations who buy off their attendees. This is a very prevalent practice amongst many a congregation on the border.
    I know of the School of Preaching in Matamoros, Tamaulipas that prepares its students to preach the gospel and is the only one in the area that is not a trampoline for individuals wanting to make a life here in the United States. The mentality of, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or the one) needs to be instilled in any and all individuals who enter into ministry. The Matamoros school provides this like I have seen no other do. Prepare preachers, teachers to stay in their native land to spread the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Mexico is a poor country and I am sure that people enjoy the trinkets offered by many a congregation in the United States. Unfortunately after the VBS group returns to their vans and travel back to wherever they came from, Mexicans will seek the trinkets from whomevers hand is extended. They are like the woman at the well whose mentality was focused on the water that would make her not come to the well no more. Christ knew that what she really needed was the water that he had to offer which would lead to an eternity with him. Shouldn�t we learn from Jesus? Look into the Matamoros School of Preaching, contact its director, Brother Erasmo Castro at [email protected] . Be a part of teaching them how to fish.
    Jason Dragustinovis
    August, 12 2010
    Granted, I wrote this blog post quickly, but I’m puzzled as to what about it indicates that the church in Pharr, the mission team from the Memorial church in Houston or anyone else for that matter is involved in “trinket” giveaways, “buying off” attendees or doing anything except showing the love of God to some of the poorest people in America?
    August, 13 2010
    While we are grateful wherever Christians are able to serve people in need, the violence in Mexico is not throughout the country – there are many safe areas in which a group can serve. I support a mission that builds houses (and hope) for the poor in the barrios of Puerto Penasco – www.onemission.us
    We have had no issues of violence and are open for all groups to come and serve – but if you feel the need to stay in the US to serve, that is great – just serve!
    WSJ has interesting graphic on the relative violence in Mexico originating from Drug cartels – also interactive so you can pick year.
    <a href=”http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704862404575351421204683804.html?mod=WSJ%2BFlash%2BInteractive#articleTabs%3Dinteractive” rel=”nofollow”>WSJ Graphic</a>
    August, 14 2010

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras Travel Reports Uncategorized

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