USA (MNN) — Everyone wants a place where they belong. Some people find it at work, some in church, and others in their community. Many families in Rio Grande Valley have never had a place where they felt they belonged. Buckner International has created just that place.
The Community Transformation Center focuses on improving the lives of individuals and families in the community through various services.
Before the Community Transformation Center, Buckner would help families repair their houses. They would fix roofs, build houses, and fix other things in their house. The families in this area are in one of the 20th poorest counties in the United States. "About 60-70 percent of people in the Valley are under the poverty line of income," said Ricardo Brambila, the Community Transformation Center Director. The average family in that area makes only $10,000 a year, with a family of 7.
Brambila said about four years ago, they recognized a problem with just fixing and building houses. "Yes, we would build a house for the family, but then the family was left with higher bills and with a lack of knowledge on how to be owners of a house. So we noticed that they needed more than just a home."
That is where the idea of the Community Transformation Center came into play. Buckner wanted a place where the community could come together and meet each other, a place where people could get an education, as well as aid and services.
One of the Center's many focuses is the young people of the community–the future of the community. Brambila said, "There are a lot of young people, and there's lack of skills and lack of education. That creates a social problem."
To help with education, Buckner provides computer lessons. Parenting classes are also offered.
In addition, the Center offers services for physical needs such as housing, clothing, and food. They also bring in medical doctors to provide care.
One program that is taking off is Buckner's single mothers program, "Karis Abounds." This teaches women how to sew bags, purses, and even dresses. The women then sell these items for some extra income for the family. "It is empowering women to develop," Brambila said.
Although meeting the community's physical, social, and education needs are important, sharing Christ is central. The staff at the Community Transformation Center all share their faith openly with the people. "We have people come into our center, broken hearted, hopeless. And as we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they open up their heart and they have hope. We have about 195 decisions of Christ recorded in our center in the past year."
To continue the growth of those around them, Buckner also helps local pastors by providing study material and concordances, as well as training them on sermon presentation. Buckner desires that believers in the area have a place that they can grow, learn and thrive.
Pray for the continued growth of the Community Transformation Center. Pray for many opportunities to share the Gospel. Ask God to continue to give hope and encouragement to the local pastors in the Rio Grande Valley area.