PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico – Although the heart of Villa de Fuente in Mexico was blown apart because of a massive flood, Christians from the U.S. have come together to help the victims and their families by providing physical needs and bringing hope to people in the community.
First Baptist Church in Eagle Pass collected and donated 50 bags of food and clothing the day after the flood. Felix Castillo, the pastor, sees the work as an opportunity rather than a hardship and he is planning to bring as many volunteers from Eagle Pass to provide much help.
“Some people may say, ‘why should I help those people in Piedras Negras, they aren’t my responsibility – I don’t know them,’” he said, “But this is a wonderful opportunity to be faithful to what God told us to do. We aren’t merely helping other people — we are being kind and loving to Jesus himself. Remember he said when we helped people who are weak and hurting, we are doing it to him.”
The sudden heavy rain swallowed up the whole village in one night of April 4, leaving more than 35 people dead, another 20 missing and damaging about 600 homes.
“At first, the morning after it happened, people were just crying,” said Israel Rodriguez, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista,“But now they are happy because they see a lot of people have come to help.”
People who were living in the village lost their precious homes in one day and the next morning after the flood they couldn’t help but to grieve over what they saw – a big pile of mud and debris.
The Mexico government took an immediate action to provide temporary housing shelters and emergency clinics to immunize against tuberculosis and dengue fever with the help of volunteer Baptist Christians. Various Baptist ministries such as Texas Baptist Men and Bluebonnet Baptist Association, including Baptist seminary students came to help to provide both physical and spiritual needs of the victims. They brought food, water, blankets, clothes, and toys from Texas and in addition they offered trauma counseling. The volunteers also helped cleaning the mud from the homes of the victims.
Because of the partnership that was made between the National Baptist Convention of Mexico and the Baptist General Convention of Texas three months ago, the process of relief work provided by the Baptist convention in Texas was able to go on efficiently.
“We’ve been wearing the same clothes for three days — the clothes we had on when we escaped,” one woman said as she waited patiently in line. “My daughter has been barefoot the whole time, and I’m worried she might get sick from the contaminated mud.”
Don Perkins, associate director of Victim Relief that offered counseling said, “They need to understand that, while this flood was certainly not normal, the feelings of fear and anger and loss that they feel are completely normal.”
“Please ask Texas Baptists to pray for our people,” said Victoria Aparicio in tears, who with her husband founded Emmanuel church in 1968, “We think the death toll is much higher than is being reported.”