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Christian Churches, Charities Serve Illegal Immigrants Near Border with 'Love of Christ'

( [email protected] ) Jul 17, 2014 07:06 PM EDT
As congress continues to spar over the immigration issue in the United States, charities and churches near the U.S./Mexico border are focusing their efforts on caring for those who have entered the country illegally.
A sign cautioning the illegal border crossing of immigrants is placed prominently near the Texas/Mexico border. (AP)

As congress continues to debate whether or not to deport thousands of illegal immigrants in the United States, Christians are taking a different approach.

Many Christian charities located on the U.S. side of the Mexican border say despite congress' decision, they will continue to serve those in need with the heart of Christ.

"The need is massive," pastor Chad Mason of Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, told The Associated Press. "The goal is to do the best we can to serve with the heart of Christ in Matthew 25. We still have a lot of work to do."

According to Mason, Catholic Charities and other volunteers in the area helped 6,000 immigrants who have come to the United States seeking freedom last month alone.

"We started our work in April," said Mason, explaining he was informed of magnitude of the border crisis in December.

One charity that is particularly active, Mason says, is South Texas Refugee Response, where hundreds of volunteers provide monetary donations, food, clothing, water, meals and showers to immigrants.

"There is an extreme need in our midst for the love of Christ," says Ruby Matthis, who volunteers regularly at the organization.

"These refugees are often scared and lost, and when we provide their very basic needs, such as food, water and shelter, we provide a tangible example to love of the love of Christ," she continued, referencing Deuteronomy 10:18, which states, "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing."

Many immigrants illegally entering the United States are under the age of 10 years old, reports the Washington Post. This year alone, over 50,000 children have been detained by U.S. border patrol.

"These children are sent over to the United States by their parents who want a better life for them," says Matthis. "They are often too young to understand what is going on, but are traumatized by their experience. Our volunteers work tirelessly to surround them with support and compassion."

Despite border patrol's best efforts, immigrants continue to flood into the country-and churches and charities are becoming overcrowded. Earlier this week, two Homeland Security buses arrived at a local church in California to drop off illegal immigrants from Texas.

"We've been told that we won't be receiving any more people," said John Andrews of the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino County, which works in cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"At one point, we were told it would be through July in a meeting that we had with the federal authorities two weeks ago, but we understand that the situation is very fluid," Andrews said.

 "They told us Thursday that there was going to be no more flights from Texas to California with migrant people, but we're just preparing ourselves. We've done it once, and we're prepared to do it again," he added.

He encouraged those critical of Christian churches and charities that are helping those who've entered the U.S. illegally to view the plight of immigrants as a humanitarian crisis.

"I would encourage them to view this as a humanitarian crisis. When your brother or sister presents themselves to you in their need, as we know from the parable of the Good Samaritan, then we don't pick and choose," he explained. "We don't say, 'Well, we're going to help this person in need but not that person in need. When you see a person who's presenting themselves to you and you can see clearly that they need your help, you see the Lord Jesus in them, and you help them."

"The Scriptures are full of references about that - the Old Testament, the New Testament; it's very clear how we need to respond," he continued.

"We are treating this as a humanitarian effort and looking at this in exactly the same way we would if there was a natural disaster in our diocese. And we're saying the primary concern is these people are here in our midst and they need our help."