Pastor Alvaro Corrales will gladly give anyone who asks a tour of Primera Iglesia Bautista of Alamo. An essential part of the tour is a large warehouse located across the street from the church building. In this warehouse, PIB Alamo stores hundreds of shirts, shoes, food items, crafts and more, ready to be sent wherever they are needed.
Corrales proudly explained that the church’s warehouse and assorted items are open to anyone who needs them. They have been sent down the street, to other cities in Texas and even as far as Africa. One of the primary places they are distributed is to ministry efforts on the border of Texas and Mexico, just a few miles from the church grounds.
“We try to find people who already help migrants on the border - we have storage, and we ask, ‘What do you need?’” Corrales explained.
The church’s warehouse holds items for every situation, each section organized with purpose. One aisle is full of items for making hygiene kits, while another has everything needed for hosting a Vacation Bible School, and yet another holds canned food items.
Another aisle, filled with clothing, has a large pallet of shirts in the middle. Corrales explained that the shirts were donated by a large service organization, who had them leftover after an event. The shirts have been distributed on the border, in Costa Rica and during a mission trip to Senegal. People around the world are wearing those shirts, he said.
The Vacation Bible Study aisle has bins full of loose crayons, colored pencils and markers. To obtain those, Corrales and church members went to local schools at the end of the school year, asking teachers to collect their remaining drawing utensils into buckets instead of throwing them away. Volunteers then divided the utensils into small, plastic bags to distribute to children. Though some may have dull tips or smudged labels, these crayons and markers are precious to the children to whom they are distributed, some of whom have few other toys.
In addition to the many donated items, PIB Alamo also purchases food and supplies with the money they receive from the Texas Baptists Hunger Offering. The offering partners with ministries aimed at reducing hunger and poverty around the world. The food PIB Alamo purchases with this money goes to the local community and immigrants along the border.
When any of the food or supplies are needed, church members will go into the warehouse and prepare them. From there they are sent out, sometimes via the church van and other times in the backs of pick-up trucks and sedans.
Fulfilling a calling
For the members of PIB Alamo, helping those in need is an essential part of their faith.
“It’s no option for us. Yes, we have to make disciples. Yes, we have to make food. It’s our responsibility,” Corrales said. “That storage, it’s not because we are better, it’s because we are willing.”
The migrants on the border are often subject to harsh conditions. A bridge crossing the Rio Grande River separates the Mexican and American border. People line up, often for days, to cross through immigration. They are unable to leave to get food, water or other supplies. When temperatures soar in the summer or rain begins to fall, those on the bridge are unprotected from the elements. PIB Alamo works with Mexican churches engaged in ministry to provide ponchos, food and other supplies for those in need. As they distribute the supplies, volunteers and missionaries tell people about God’s love for them.
Corrales has also provided necessities to Lorenzo Ortiz, a pastor in Laredo who ministers to immigrants and refugees who pass through his community. When Ortiz was in need of clothing, hygiene kits or other supplies, he called Corrales, and church members gathered together to meet the need.
PIB Alamo will continue providing aid and supplies to migrants, missionaries and churches along the border as long as it is needed. This church, though small in membership, is making a huge impact and spreading the love of Christ to thousands of people.
Daniel DeLeon, a Texas Baptists area representative, thinks there is an important lesson to be learned from PIB Alamo’s faithful mission work.
Missions is a collaborative effort. Though the church members may not always distribute the items themselves, they are still a part of sharing God’s love with everyone the supplies help. That is missions work too, DeLeon explained.
“You can do ministry with what you know. You don’t have to be a pastor or a Sunday school teacher to do missions,” he said.
For more information about how your church can get involved with missions work, either locally or internationally, go to txb.org/missions.