USA/Mexico (MNN) — A new collaborative effort will aid people living in overwhelming need in towns where California and Arizona border Mexico. Buckner International has joined a group of
ministries to mirror an existing ministry on the Texas-Mexico line. The groups include Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of the West.
As a part of the project, churches will be learning to minister to their Hispanic neighbors. Dexton Shores, director of Buckner ministry development in Mexico and the Border, said, "It's going to be an immersion experience for
those volunteers, to be immersed all at once in another language, another culture, another socio-economic environment that is very different from the one that they're probably comfortable with."
The culture is a unique blend of the United States and Mexico, as people cross the border going both directions. In fact, Shores has a presentation called "The Border Lands: A
Whole 'Nother Country."
Many are looking for a better life, coming
from lives of poverty where they live on about $2 a day. Many build homes out of almost any material they can find and add one room at a time. It often takes 5-6 years to build a two-room concrete block home.
Most of the residents work on one side of the border and live on the other side to raise their wages to $10 a day.
Mission teams involved in this border ministry will be able to help orphanages, people living in sub-standard housing
and churches with construction needs. Other needs include water
purification, medical and dental assistance, and teaching people job
skills. Community centers will also teach English to children, giving them an advantage in school.
Shores says within two or three days of the beginning of an outreach, people begin asking questions as to why they are receiving such help. That becomes the doorway to
teaching people about Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Shores says, Buckner wants to "give them the real hope that they're searching for. But unless we are willing to meet them where they are and understand the needs that they have and minister to those needs in Jesus' name, the Gospel is irrelevant to most of them."
Shores hopes to get churches enlisted for mission trips soon. By Fall, he'd like to send some volunteers to hand out Christmas gifts to families in the border towns. He hopes to be running full steam by next spring break when most people begin taking trips or using their vacation time.