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Stories From the Border: God’s Faithfulness Among Sojourners

Nearly everyone in the United States has an impression or opinion of the U.S./Mexico border. Maybe it comes from news bites or glimpses of a photo on Instagram. But few understand how complex and complicated living and ministering in this place can be.

A couple of years ago we met a young man who fled Cuba and started a long journey through Central America before landing in our neighborhood on the border. He came to Mexico seeking asylum in the United States, but that claim has been denied. Little by little we have gotten to know him; little by little he has learned to trust us. He gifted one of our teammates with a beautiful pair of leather boots and told him that he was his first true friend in his lifetime.

That young man now works with us and around the neighborhood. Though he has no family tradition of attending church, he is coming to worship services and just started attending the weekly adult Bible study at our community center.

Throughout Scripture, we see a pattern of people residing in communities and places, whether temporarily or for the long term, that are not originally their own. Perhaps that is why, over and over, God’s people are commanded to give special care and concern to the sojourner.

Providential Opportunities to Serve the Sojourner

The ministry at Isaiah 55 in Reynosa, Mexico, where we serve in partnership with MTW among the deaf and marginalized, focuses on development rather than relief. As such, we typically don’t have an ongoing ministry with migrants. But the reality of living just a five-minute walk from the border means that we regularly meet and have opportunity to serve those who hope they are only passing through.

In the spring of 2021, a growing camp of several thousand migrants formed in a plaza in downtown Reynosa, all waiting for the opportunity to claim asylum in the United States. Hundreds of stubby tents filled the once spacious plaza, with hardly any room to walk in between. Families lined up to receive donations of food and clothing—everything they have coming from the mercy of others. People in this camp are incredibly vulnerable, literally living outdoors in the middle of town, exposed to the hot sun and the torrential rain of the summer. They are also frequent victims of exploitation.

Some of our staff and summer interns have volunteered at the camp, helping a local ministry to migrants. We have met people who have journeyed thousands of miles with long weeks of travel. We have met people who were victims of crime before they left their homes and then have been victims of crime along the way. Despite the hardship and trauma each of these families have experienced, we find that kids remain kids, excited about singing and coloring and playing, wiggling while listening to the Bible stories, but quick to repeat back, “God is faithful!

Being Faithful in the Transition

The transitory nature of border cities provides another challenging dynamic in ministry. We had been discipling a couple with a long history of addiction and complicated family relationships. Over the course of a year, we walked a tumultuous path with them, marked by both trial and celebration. We were beside them in the ugliest throes of addiction. We waited alongside the husband as the wife went missing for nearly a week, a kidnapping victim. But we also celebrated birthdays and new jobs and consecutive days of sobriety. We ate together and played dominoes and Uno together. And through it all, we had opportunity to share the gospel by continually speaking the truth—the promise and the hope of Scripture and faith in Christ.

After a year of attending Bible study and discipleship activities, this couple moved back to their hometown farther south in Mexico. It is not uncommon for people, whether migrant or workers or families, to be at the border for a time and then leave. And though immediately a move feels more like loss than celebration, this reality reinforces the idea that we never really know how much time we have together with anyone. We know that we must be intentional and purposeful with the time we do have. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us, “There is nothing new under the sun.” As early as Genesis, we learn that God’s people will be without a home and as such, we are taught over and over, “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 22:21, ESV). Therefore, our response in ministry, and really that of all believers, remains nothing different than that which Micah demands, “To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8, NIV). 

MTW is prayerfully looking to plant 15 churches in Mexico by 2030. Pray with us! mtw.org/join.

Kristy Holliday serves with MTW alongside her husband, Tim, and family in Reynosa, Mexico. 

Kristy Holliday, Monterrey Mexico Oct 26, 2021
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Pray for the national pastors serving in Mexico and Cuba, many of whom are bi-vocational, and the work God is doing among them.

Pray for the Center for Church Planting, headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, to raise up Mexican church planters to serve across northern Mexico.

Pray for God's work among migrants and refugees on the U.S./Mexico border. 

Pray for the kids in Aquiles Serdan neighborhood of Reynosa, Mexico, and the outreach of Isaiah 55 ministry there.

Pray for Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and our church-planting work there. Pray for God to grow, expand, and deepen the churches and draw many to Himself.

Last summer, Claudia came to faith through a summer trip. She has since been baptized. Pray for those who come to faith in Mexico as a result of short-term trips to plug into the church.

Pray that God would meet the needs of itinerating and long-serving missionaries, raising up their financial and prayer support.

Pray for the "Timothys" in Muslim-majority West Africa who are growing in their Christian faith and teaching others. 

Join us in praying for our efforts to plant 36 churches in South Asia by 2030. Pray for the national pastors leading churches in Muslim-majority regions. 

Pray for our single missionaries and the unique challenges they face. 

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