November 30th, 2010 at 10:34 am
ROMA – Texas Baptists have sent more than four tons of aid to more than 400 people who were forced from their homes in the Mexico border city of Ciudad Mier and are now living nearby Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas in a Lion’s Club hall, city hall and in a plaza.
Texas Baptists, particularly Rio Grande Valley congregations, have delivered food, water, sleeping bags, tents and hygiene products for the Ciudad Mier refugees sheltered in Miguel Aleman, just across the Rio Grande from Roma. These people represent the last holdouts of Ciudad Mier, who finally fled their homes Nov. 5 just before two drug cartels began battling for control over the city.
Churches helping with the effort include Primera Iglesia Bautista in Roma, Primera Iglesia Bautista in Santa Maria, First Baptist Church in Harlingen, Iglesia Bautista Sublime Gracia in Progreso, Primera Iglesia Bautista in La Joya, First Baptist Church in Weslaco, Olmito Community Church in Olmito as well as First Baptist Church in Bay City and First Baptist Church in Allen. The Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association has received $1,000 in disaster response funds from the Texas Baptists disaster response fund.
“We’re giving out everything people need as long as we have it,” said Tomas Cantú, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Roma and de-facto point person for the response effort.
Some of the refugees are cooking their meals in a former restaurant that was reopened for that purpose, Cantú said. People are working together to cook meals for each other. Many of them are sleeping on concrete floors in the Lion’s Club or are sleeping on dirt beneath the open sky.
Texas Baptists are responding to the crisis as they sense Christ calling them, said Robert Cepeda, a congregational strategist for Texas Baptists.
“As we’re ministering to these people, we’re ministering to the least of these,” he said. “They’re hungry. Many of them feel hopeless. I really feel this is the epitome of sharing the hope of Christ, feeding and clothing these people and communicating that there are people out there that care about them.”
Violence along the Mexican border has been ongoing as drug cartels fight each other for control. Mexican officials have announced 3,000 soldiers, naval forces and federal police officers were being sent to the region near Ciudad Mier, near Falcon Lake, but observers are unsure when the situation will be resolved.
“This is really a new day for disaster response in the sense that after a tornado or hurricane, there is an end in sight when folks can get back home and rebuild, look forward to a new life, a new beginning,” Cepeda said. “These folks, it’s open ended. They don’t even know if and when they’ll get to go back home.”