BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ABP) — Violence between drug cartels in
Mexican border towns has cut into the number of mission trips in the area. In
some cases, it has led church groups, even those who have served in the area
for years, to cancel trips to sites on the Texas side of the border as well.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas encourages groups
who want to serve along the Texas-Mexico border to minister on the Texas side
of the Rio Grande, said Daniel Rangel, director of Texas Baptists’ River
A few teams have chosen to serve in Mexico. The BGCT
requires those who want to minister there to spend their evenings on the Texas
side of the border if they want the convention’s assistance in facilitating the
Despite the encouragement to serve in Texas, some areas in
South Texas have seen a significant drop in the number of mission teams
serving, and the overall number of mission teams through River Ministry has
decreased since the Mexico border violence broke out.
In the past, River Ministry facilitated 50 El Paso mission
teams in a typical year. Last year, it helped seven. The number of trips
working through the Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association has been cut in half
As a result of the border violence, a number of Mexico-based
ministry agencies have partnered with Buckner International, increasing the
number of mission groups Buckner expects to facilitate in 2011, said Jorge Zapata,
director of Buckner International’s colonias program.
Congregations are choosing not to minister along the border
as a result of the reports of violence in Mexico border towns, Rangel said.
Although River Ministry, Buckner and Valley Baptist Missions Education Center
have facilitated mission trips throughout the Texas side of the border without
incident, some church members and leaders are hesitant to undertake mission
Some churches try to put together teams, but find people
aren’t willing to go to the border because of safety concerns, ministry leaders
said. Some churches plan to do mission trips to the border, but volunteers to
go on the trips never materialize.
“I think everybody has great intentions,” said Jamie
Campbell, facilities manager at Valley Baptist Missions Education Center.
“Their heart says we have served in the Valley or served along the border
before, and they want to go again. They say let’s go ahead and plan like we’ve
always done before. I think what’s happening is the mission teams aren’t
Many border mission teams traditionally have been made up of
youth, and parents do not want to take a chance sending their children to the
border. Texas border ministry leaders said they understand church members’
concerns, but they quickly note the Texas side of the border is as safe as any
large Texas city — and probably more so. Texas Baptist ministries particularly
are careful about the situations in which they place volunteers, attempting to
place people where they can minister safely.
“As a parent, I understand the concern about sending your
child down,” Campbell said.
“What they have to realize is none of us would put your
children in a situation where there is any danger. We simply wouldn’t do that.
It wouldn’t be responsible.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hall writes for Texas Baptist
Helpful tips for border missions
Leaders of mission work along the Texas-Mexico border shared
several helpful hints for volunteers who feel called to share the hope of
Christ in the region through mission trips:
- Work on the Texas side of the border. Although drug cartel
violence has not ravaged the entire Mexico side of the border, organizations
continue urging mission teams to work along the Texas side of the border where
the physical and spiritual needs remain great, and the region is safe.
- Partner with trusted organizations. There are a multitude
of churches and ministry organizations along the Texas border. Choosing an
organization that is known and trusted like those supported by Texas Baptists’
Cooperative Program giving — Texas Baptists’ River Ministry, Buckner
International and Valley Baptist Missions Education Center — helps church
groups know they will be well taken care of and put in a position where they
can have a long-lasting impact for God’s kingdom.
- Listen to local leaders and organizers and do as they say.
Local residents and ministries know the area better than visitors coming into
it. While the Texas border remains safe, it is always important to remain in
areas organized have already scouted. It not only does it keep teams safe, but
also enables them to work together better and accomplish the task at hand.
- Consider staying at a Christian retreat center. There are
several retreat centers along the Texas border designed to host mission teams.
Many of them —like Valley Baptist Missions Education Center — can help connect
mission teams with projects, provide three full meals each day to each trip
participant and allow space for teams to debrief at the end of the day — all at
prices drastically lower than what it would cost to stay at a hotel and eat at
restaurants. And the money spent at these retreat centers is invested back into
ministry and mission efforts.
- Expect God to work before a trip, during the trip and after
it.Missions leaders believe people along the border are more open to the
gospel than they typically are because of the violence on the other side of the
border. Organizers encourage team members to prepare themselves through prayer
and studying the Bible before the trip, during the trip and long after the trip
finishes. God will change the lives of people mission volunteers encounter
along the border, mission leaders said. Lives of volunteers also may be
(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical
Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new
Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank
you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or
issues with items we run, please contact [email protected]
or call 919-847-2127.)