CLC approves grants for ministry to refugees and immigrants

Lorenzo Ortiz, pastor of of Iglesia Bautista Emmanuel in Laredo, believes God has called him to minister to immigrants and deportees. (Photo / Isa Torres)

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DALLAS—To meet urgent global needs—including those of Syrian refugee children and immigrants along the Texas/Mexico border—the Christian Life Commission’s governing board unanimously approved $49,000 in care grants from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering.

“Political, economic, and social turmoil is causing countless numbers of people to flee their homes and seek refuge in strange and unfamiliar places. These refugees and migrants face multiple challenges—hunger, housing, education and despair among them,” said Ferrell Foster, director of ethics and justice at the CLC.

“By helping them now, we are not only helping them survive; we are helping them to avoid poverty in the future.”

The commissioners approved:

  • $18,000 for a church-based learning center to serve Syrian refugee children. The funds will enable Baptists in Lebanon—a longtime ministry partner—to respond to the unique needs of children whose families lived through the Syrian civil war.
Syrian children at a refugee camp in Lebanon. (Photo by Texas Baptists Communications)

“Children living in refugee camps in Lebanon have experienced significant trauma, and their continued healthy human development is dependent on obtaining expert evaluation and response to psychological and educational issues,” Foster explained.  “This is a means of trying to head off future poverty as these children mature.”

Through Lebanese Baptists’ ministry to refugees, “people’s needs are being met, and many are coming to faith in Christ,” he added.

  • $12,000 to feed immigrants and refugees along the Texas/Mexico border. Funds will be disbursed through Texas Baptist River Ministry, working with Baptist churches on both sides of the Rio Grande. River Ministry will purchase basic food staples through a regional food bank.
In addition to serving as a Texas Baptists’ River Ministry missionary and as associate pastor for missions and youth at City Church in Del Rio, Shon Young chairs the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition, helping to meet the needs of immigrant families.

After immigrants and refugees are processed by the United States and Mexico governments, they are not provided any further support, River Ministry Director Daniel Rangel explained.

“When we share a meal with them, this provides an opportunity for us to share the gospel with them,” Rangel said.

  • $10,000 to respond to needs created by political upheaval in Venezuela. Funds will be disbursed by Baptist World Aid, the humanitarian relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance.

Half of the funds will be distributed to Venezuelan Baptist pastors to help them acquire food, which has become prohibitively expensive due to economic collapse. The other half will be used to send a Baptist relief specialist to Venezuela to evaluate specific needs and develop a strategic response plan.

  • $9,000 to provide clean water for a community in Kenya. The funds will be provided to Texas Baptist Men.

TBM has drilled a well for the Children’s Rescue Center orphanage, which houses 334 vulnerable children and youth. The orphanage needs a purification/filtration center because the water must be stored temporarily. The grant will cover the cost of equipment and installation.

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Faithful giving makes grants possible

Increased support of the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering by churches enabled the commission to make the care grants, responding to needs “above and beyond the offering’s regular ministry budget,” Foster said.

Receipts for the offering were up 7.2 percent through June, compared to the same period last year, he noted, adding, “We had adopted a conservative original budget to recover from declines in giving during recent years.”

Texas Baptists’ ability to support ongoing ministries that feed the hungry and help people escape poverty depends on continued faithful giving to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, Foster emphasized.

“Every dollar given to the hunger offering goes out to anti-poverty efforts in Texas and around the world,” he said. “By making these special disbursements, we are counting on Texas Baptist churches and individuals to continue their faithful giving through the remainder of the year.”


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