Field notes, perspectives, stories, news & announcements
January 25, 2023
While there are many ministries doing important work along the US southern border, we've identified that there are still many unmet needs and gaps. IAFR is looking for a leader to take our existing research and pioneer a new ministry in the region. Keep reading to learn more.
Families from the Southern Border filed off the big white bus in downtown San Diego, California. IAFR missionary Jake watched as mothers with fussy babies on their hips, shoulders drooping with exhaustion, pulled their older children closer. Shy toddlers clung to their parents and older siblings, their eyes dark with fear. The group of asylum-seeking families had just been transported here by customs and border protection to a hotel used as an Asylum Hub for a 24 to 48-hour stopover before being transported to their relatives or sponsor families within the U.S.
Jake watched relief wash over one face and then another as kind welcomers from Catholic Charities met the newcomers with smiles and warmth.
"It made me realize it was probably the first friendly face they've seen since they left their country. You could just see people begin to breathe and think, 'Okay, I'm okay here for two or three days at least.'" He recalled later.
"I saw the same deep trauma in their eyes."
He'd witnessed this need for understanding and the power of welcome throughout his research trip along the Southern Border. The trip was full of conversations and time spent with people working with displaced people and many families searching for safety themselves.
Through these conversations, he realized most people, himself included, do not understand how severe the situation is for these families in their hometowns.
"The intensity and deep trauma in people's eyes is the same as I have seen in other places in the world. This is what fleeing violence looks like, even if the war does not look the same as what we see in Ukraine or Afghanistan" Jake shared.
Reiterating the power of human welcome was Jake's encounter with a church in Matamoros on the Mexican border near Brownville, Texas. The church had turned its building into an emergency homeless shelter for refugee families passing through. When Jake's group visited, 73 people were staying there. Some had been there for weeks already, others just for several days.
In the churchyard, someone had set up a basketball hoop. As Jake played basketball with refugee teenagers staying at the church, laughing and playing with these young people, it felt so ordinary and simple in the middle of so much unknown. Yet he was reminded how profound the impact of small and simple acts is in the refugee context.
He witnessed this truth among the members of communities on both sides of the border as people welcomed newcomers. They were doing kingdom of God work that no one would ever see or give them credit for. The beautiful faithfulness in their work was highlighted to Jake by the fact that they didn't seem to care about recognition. They simply tried to love their neighbor by welcoming people in desperate situations. In their humanity, the politics of Washington faded a bit, and the tensions were replaced with human kindness and community.
The need along the Southern border is immense, and IAFR is committed to helping fill the gaps. We are in the early stages of discerning what that involvement will be.
Please pray with us for God to send us a leader with a vision to take our research and pioneer a new ministry so we can do our part to show up in life-giving ways in this region of the refugee highway.
Interested in learning more?
- Jacob Tornga with Rachael LofgrenBack to the Blog