Pastors rally in prayer at the border

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by Leah Allen — August 1, 2014

MCALLEN-Over 50 Hispanic pastors, leaders and family members gathered in McAllen July 26, to pray over the current circumstances regarding the Central American families and unaccompanied minors crossing the border.

The prayer event served as the kickoff of “For His Children,” an initiative of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Convoy of Hope, Buckner International and Somebody Cares International to help meet physical and spiritual needs of the minors and families.“God’s word affirms His people working, worshiping and praying in unity,” said Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission. “This event was the beginning of the faith family’s effort to unite together in ministry and in support of the unaccompanied children.”

Prayer warriors, including several Texas Baptists, from Houston, San Antonio and border towns such as McAllen and Edinburg met at Anzalduas Park on the Rio Grande to sing worship songs and pray for the following: the children and their parents, peace in the countries they came from, President Obama and Congress as they make decisions on the issue, and law enforcement and border patrol chaplains.

“I think it is so important for us to pray for the God of mercy and the God of comfort,” said Doug Stringer, founder of Somebody Cares International, after reading 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 to the leaders. “We don’t know everybody’s story or the windows of their soul. But we do know that Jesus has an answer, and we the church need to be that healing that is in the midst of all the difficulties of the world.”

The gatherers separated to three different locations - the processing facility for unaccompanied minors, the border patrol station and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where the family units get assistance before going to the bus station - for smaller group prayer.Mark Gonzalez, founder of the Hispanic Action Network, has been in the Rio Grande Valley for seven weeks coordinating organizations and groups to visit the border to assess some of the biggest needs, including prayer.

“It’s good for pastors to come down and leaders and people to come down because it just moves their prayer,” he said. “The human element gets stirred from the human heart, from the compassionate side.”

After praying outside the processing center with the other leaders, Texas Baptist Men volunteer Mike Tello saw firsthand the beauty and importance of coming together in the Rio Grande Valley.

“The gathering of pastors and leaders outside their churches and cities in one spirit to seek divine intervention creates unity and purpose,” he said. “Going to pray at the core of the activity indicates that we care what happens to those involved… We must continue to do our part and let God take care of the details.”

The rally ended with a trip to Iglesia Del Pueblo in Mission, Texas where Juan de la Garza, pastor, enlightened the visitors on the important role their church is playing in the matter.

“The Valley has become a mission field,” he said. “We’ve got a million people (in the county) and more than 90% are un-churched… We don’t have to go to Central America or to Mexico because we have them coming through here.”

For four hours that day the pastors, ministers and family members from different denominations and faith backgrounds prayed together hand-in-hand over the present situation and the future outcome.

“It’s a good thing to see the body come together on this, putting politics aside, putting denominational stuff aside, and saying, ‘We’ve got to respond and be the church.’ It’s the church being the church,” Gonzales said. “A revival of compassion is happening.” 

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