Though it feels long ago and would be impossible in our current world, we would like to share with you Howard (Church Growth and Visioning Team Chair) and Cathy Wagler’s reflections on their visit to south Texas a few months ago to visit some SCC pastors and churches.
We delivered 36 detainee kits/backpacks from MCC to Ana Hinojosa, MCC Immigration Education Coordinator at New Life Christian Center in San Benito. We traveled with her to Brownsville and into Matamoros Mexico. It was heartbreaking to see the 100’s of tents set up as people from Central American countries, seeking to gain asylum in the U.S., wait up to a year for the opportunity to meet with someone.
We dedicated much of our first week to visiting as many SCC pastors and church leaders as possible. Evening bible study with pastor Ulises Arenas at Buenas Nuevas in San Juan was full of energy, worship and teaching. Ulises has a great love for people and desire to learn more about leadership. We were able to sit with Lalo and Maria Hinojosa in their home in Brownsville and later Alma and Alejo Solis in the Los Fresnos area. It was good to see the new space that has been built at Fuente de Agua Viva where pastors Alejo and Alma Solis and Israel and Celia Solis shared with us their experiences and love for God and their communities. We also met with Carlos and Claudia Cedillo who have a house church, Alpha y Omega, in San Benito. These leaders have a lot of hope for persons from SCC to help with their leadership development and training. We also visited a restaurant with Lupe and Yoland Aguilar as well as Myra who is now assistant pastor at Rey de Gloria.
Our first Sunday we attended Hope for the Broken led by Rod and Norma Schmucker, meeting at a motel conference room. We had lunch with the group and felt very welcome and enjoyed the energy of the people. The second Sunday we visited Iglesia Mennonita Nueva Amanecer at Pastor Nena Bennett’s home in Brownsville. Even though the whole gathering was in a language we do not speak or understand, we were overwhelmed by how alive and spirit filled this church is!
The last day we were in Texas we attended the Rio Grande Valley MCC Relief Sale. There we enjoyed seeing some of the pastors again as well as meeting some we hadn’t yet met; Conrado and Esther Hinojosa as well as Israel Hernandez. Though fundraising for a common organization, there was a separateness we sensed at the sale between the South Texas church people and the Winter Texans who help organize and carry out the sale. We would love to see those groups working together more for a unique common goal. We felt very welcomed and appreciated, and we encourage the conference to continue to stay connected North-South; continuing to learn and grow together.