Every mid-December beginning in 2006, Crossing Borders mission trip has gone into Mexico with hundreds of shoebox gifts, blankets, totes, baby supplies, food, and other resources—14 “shoebox trips.” It is surely a wonderful blessing to have many U.S. churches, clubs and individuals provide these resources—Thank you!
But one of the most important “gifts” we can provide is not a physical present, but our “presence”—just being there, showing God’s love, building relationships on a personal level with people with great hearts and great challenges every day. With the U.S./Mexican border still closed, CB was unable to take missionaries or physical gifts into Mexico, but we do our best to continue the “gift of presence” during this COVID crisis.
Many times the presence has to be by email, phone calls, Facebook Messenger or other methods—and those are wonderful tools. However, this year two of the core CB Team members, Lee Berger and Pedro Orduno, were able to spend a few days at the border, visiting with some of our U.S.-side ministry partners. Here are some updates from our visit:
- We were housed at Laredo Stepping Stone (LSS). Rick Hall is the facility/ministry manager. He recently recovered from near-death COVID, but his wife (Kim) died from the virus in August. We were able to spend time talking with Rick, sharing meals, hearing stories about Kim, and helping with construction and maintenance projects at the camp. While we were there, Rick went to the emergency room for several hours due to very high blood pressure.
- Ray and Lisa Rendon (and boys Rayito, Benji and Ryan) assist Rick at LSS camp. Ray also pastors a church in Nuevo Laredo, across the border in Mexico. Because of the current travel restrictions, the Rendons cannot travel into Mexico, so Ray is pastoring his church remotely. Amazingly, the church is growing in attendance, and the members are taking on new responsibilities at the church in Ray and Lisa’s absence. It was wonderful to spend time with this family that we have known for 15 years. We involved the boys in building and painting a cornhole game board and did some kite flying; they had a blast!
- We met “Jose” and his family. They were staying at the camp for a couple days as they headed back into full-time missionary ministry in central Mexico. In their city, evangelical Christians are only 2% of the population (the rest are Catholic [mostly non-practicing], followers of traditional pseudo-spiritual religions, and the unreligious). Plus there is a lot of drugs, violence and immorality. It is a great challenge to be a Christian and to grow a church in that environment. Jose and his family have been threatened at gunpoint, but they continue to feel God’s calling to minister in that area.
- Carlos Flores pastored a church for eight years that met in a city park in Laredo (on the U.S. side) and he taught Bible classes at a local college. Crossing Borders has participated with Carlos for many years. Four years ago, his health took a turn for the worse. He had to stop pastoring and could barely function. During this trip, we were able to meet with him for over two hours and found that his health is slowly improving. He has begun a private Bible study group and has goals to reconnect with young adult ministry.
- Jeannie Leyendecker’s husband, Randy, died from heart conditions this past July. Randy was a fireball of ministry on the border, helping many pastors and churches, providing food for thousands in the community, loyally delivering food and necessary supplies to homeless on the streets, and more. Jeannie is struggling mentally and in grief, and she is dealing with many challenging situations and decisions after Randy died. Thankfully, she has three grown kids close by, and they give her good support. Your prayers are appreciated for all of these individuals as they serve in their different areas. These are some highlights of the trip:
- We took homemade cookies to our partners (a CB tradition), handmade blankets and tote bags, and some other gifts that Ray and Lisa will take across the border and given to those in need.
- Crossing Borders bought groceries to be given in gift bags and were able to purchase some other needed supplies for the border ministries.
- Most of all, we were able to spend many hours in personal interaction with our partners and to assure them that CB continues to remember, care for and pray for them.
We gave them the gift of “presence”—God’s presence through us—and that was a blessing to all involved.
Lee Berger, Crossing Borders Director and Facilitator