EL PASO—Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers answered the call to assist the El Paso Baptist Association at its new migrant relief shelter located at that city’s Scotsdale Baptist Church.
“The El Paso Migrant Center is a Christ-centered ministry to the migrants coming to the border,” Larry Floyd, the El Paso association’s executive director, told the TEXAN. “Humanitarian help is a given, but we want to be the hands and feet of Christ so that the migrants take that when they leave. The first thing we do when they are dropped off at the center by ICE and border patrol is pray with them.
“We are working hand in hand with ICE and border patrol,” Floyd said. “Our goal is to quickly determine their needs: shower, food, clothing, mask, hygiene kits, then connect them with their sponsors in the U.S. to move toward their destination. We are not paying for their airline or bus tickets. The sponsor is responsible for that part of it,” he added, explaining that the center’s work is to facilitate getting the migrants to their new destinations with dignity and “total respect.”
All donations support the center, which operates with no paid staff, Floyd added.
Floyd had visited with representatives of Send Relief at the SBC annual meeting in Nashville in June about the shelter, which was then soon to open. SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice and Floyd connected after the annual meeting.
By July 8, the first day the center received migrants, SBTC DR feeding volunteers were busily preparing and serving more than 60 meals per day for Haitian immigrants while another crew manned the shower unit brought from First Baptist Leonard.
Teams quickly witnessed transformational moments.
SBTC DR volunteer Linda Mitter of Rockwall noted a blessing on July 8, as a local Hispanic pastor held a time of devotion and prayer for the migrants. “Eight grown Haitian men were on their knees with their arms lifted to God and praying,” Mitter said.
“There is no language barrier with God,” SBTC volunteer Debby Nichols said, describing a prayer time at the shelter in which three pastors presented John 3:16 to a group of Haitian men. “One pastor spoke in English; one pastor spoke in Spanish and a third spoke in French,” Nichols said. One migrant had brought his own French translation of the Bible, she noted, and all were pleased and “amazed” to hear the varied languages.
“We are glad to respond to ‘strangers in the land’ as Leviticus 19:34 reminds us to do,” Stice said. “We are pleased to partner with El Paso and Send Relief on this project.”
Stice said he expected SBTC DR support at the migrant center to continue for several weeks.