SOUTH TEXAS – While politicians and pundits bloviate about the illegal immigration crisis, there are churches near the U.S.-Mexico border that quietly continue to speak by their actions, meeting needs in the midst of this calamity.
Pastor Carlos Navarro leads Iglesia Bautista West Brownsville, which is located just several blocks from the border – and he believes God has put him in Brownsville for a purpose. Navarro and his church members do ministry on both sides of the border – something he's been doing personally for 25 years.
"We share the gospel, we take them food, we take them water, and we take them clothing," he explains. "[We're] going to the bridges, going to the detention centers, to the prisons – doing this with the little funds that we have in our church."
The pastor acknowledges that both the government and the church have roles to play when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration. "For the government, they're numbers; [but] for us, they're souls. For the government, the people who come [are] cases; [but] for us, they're family with names and last names because we have that personal touch with them."
With so many people coming into the U.S. now and Mexico doing nothing to stop the immigration into its own country, Navarro explains that the situation along the border is a whole new ballgame.
"It's overwhelming, the number of people," he shares with OneNewsNow. "We've been doing this for so many years, [ministering to] 15 to 20 people, probably four or five families. But not now: we're talking about hundreds."
Navarro says he has an advantage in ministering along the border because he knows the culture and the background of the people coming in – and they are willing to listen to him as he preaches the gospel. "It is my satisfaction – and it's a blessing for me to know that we're planting the seed," he adds.
The pastor came to the U.S. illegally from Guatemala about 36 years ago, and he's been a U.S. citizen for about 20 years. He has worked with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Guatemala and El Salvador.
FYI: The children are being cared for
OneNewsNow visited with one local citizen who says he and others are tired of the media refusing to tell the truth about what's really happening with illegal immigrant families in the area.
Austin Cleveland knows what's truly happening because he crosses over into Mexico a couple times a month, helping with his church's ministry there; and he knows there are many in his church working on the border, doing border patrol and other jobs. But he's furious "because the word's not getting out that we are taking care of these people and we're doing a good job of doing that down here." He says what's being reported by the mainstream media isn't true.
"These kids are having three meals a day, they're sleeping in a controlled environment, they play soccer during day, they get their immunization shots, they get to shower and clean up," he describes – whereas in the world they left, "they sleep on the dirt, they have no control of their temperature because they're in a home that has no electricity, they may not eat for a couple of days.
"They are getting treated here better than they could ever be treated before," he argues. "In fact, some parents just come and bring kids to the border and push them across the border and say Go, leave, go be in America. They'll take care of you there."
As for the politics dividing the country over this issue? It's got to stop, he says. "We have people in Washington and people in New York and Chicago trying to make decisions for the way people live down here in the [Rio Grande] Valley – and that's just not right."