A letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar in Mexico
A Dwelling For God
And Maria gave birth to her firstborn and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn—Luke 2:7.
In Christ you too are being built together in which God dwells by God’s Spirit—Ephesians 2:22.
Samuel, one of the coffee growers of Café Justo, recited a poem entitled “Luz En El Pesebre” (“Light In The Manger”) during a gathering of the coffee cooperative and the 17-person Coffee, Migration and Faith delegation in November. With deep passion Samuel shared the poet’s words of mystery that “the owner of all creation, of the galaxies and the universe” became flesh and lay in a manger to shine light into a dark world.
A manger, in a forgotten little village, seems like such a strange dwelling for God. A manger, in a forgotten little village, seems like a strange place to shine forth the light of the world.
Abby is a doctoral student who spent three months this year serving with us at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta. During her time with us she participated in Frontera de Cristo’s (FDC) delegation to the Douglas Ministerial Association’s Progressive Dinner that benefits the House of Hope, a shelter for those who have suffered domestic violence.
Part of the FDC “gang” gathered at the U.S. side office beforehand to go together. There were Catholics, Mennonites, and of course Presbyterians; there were young adults and folks over 65; there were U.S. folk and Mexican folk; there were poor and rich; there were folks who work for the Border Patrol and folks who document abuses of the border patrol; there were folks recovering from addiction and folks who have severe mental and emotional challenges; there were folks of different political persuasions all enjoying one another’s company and excited to be participating together.
Later Abby said to Laura, who served as one of FDC’s binational interns in 2012/2013: “This is such a weird community—in the most positive sense, of course.” Later in the year Abby came back. She shared that as she was preparing to come back she realized that she wanted to be a better person, “because you can’t help to want to be a better person, being around y’all.”
We have been reflecting about the strange reality that God is forming us—U.S. and Mexican, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, young and old—to be a dwelling in which God dwells by God’s Spirit. We are folks who would not naturally “flock together” and yet God has chosen us to be a dwelling in which to dwell.
A group of folk from such varied backgrounds seems like such a strange dwelling for God. A group of folk gathered in a small dusty border town seems like such a strange place through which to reflect the light of the world.
When asked: "What does Frontera de Cristo do?" I often respond by saying: "Nothing . . ." and after a pause say "nothing alone." While not totally accurate (we do have staff meetings alone), one of the things that we have discovered is that we are at our best and most effective when we are working in partnership with other organizations and connecting organizations with each other to share expertise, experiences and other resources to enhance what we are all doing—in other words, when we open ourselves up to allow God to build us together with other.
In a conversation between Marty, a Pittsburgh Theological Seminary student who was at the end of a week-long immersion experience with Frontera de Cristo, and Raul, the director of CRREDA, the drug rehabilitation center in Agua Prieta that is one of our strongest partners, this reality was made real clear to us:
Marty: "We have been really amazed at how all the organizations here work together and are connected."
Raul: "That's what Frontera de Cristo has taught us."
Perhaps the most beautiful affirmation of our ministry together.
As we end this year of life and service together, it is important to recognize how God accomplishes pretty amazing things through this wonderful binational ministry with whom we are privileged to serve:
• Providing two years’ worth of beans (2013 and 2014) for our partners at the CRREDA (drug rehabilitation center), the CAME (Migrant Shelter), the our Lady of Angels Children’s Home, the CAINA (after-school program), the House of Hope, and two children’s breakfast programs;
• Facilitating immersion experiences for 15 universities, 2 seminaries, 12 churches, 5 high schools, and 3 organizations, with over 400 participants. While mostly from the U.S., we are blessed to have had participants from over a dozen countries from each continent;
• Giving financial, emotional and spiritual support for 67 men and 12 women throughout the year who are in recovery from alcohol and drug addictions;
• Supporting the continued growth of the Siloe Presbyterian Mission in Agua Prieta and their growing ministry with children;
• Growing the partnership between the Presbytery of Southern Kansas and the Presbiterio de Chihuahua. And the impact of Café Justo through the Café Justo Presbiterio to Presbytery Partnership program that has increased the number of churches participating with addressing root causes of immigration by buying Café Justo, raising the awareness of the partnership between the two presbyteries and raising funds for mission;
• Providing a place of welcome and refuge for over 7,000 men, women and children at the Migrant Resource Center;
• And more . . .
But even more important is it to give thanks to God for who we are—“a weird community”—a community that God “in Christ is building together to be a holy dwelling in which God lives by God’s Spirit.
Thank you for being a part of our community! We thank you because your prayers, words of encouragement, and financial support help make it possible to be part of the body of Christ on the U.S./Mexico border. We invite you to come along for another year of weirdness, building this holy dwelling place through your prayers, advocacy and gifts.
The Adams Maldonado Family
Miriam, Mark, Cindy, Anna Flor and Nathan
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I wrote this to Miriam and feel it may have merit here as a "comment" Love to you in Christ. Pass on my love to Mark, Cindy, Anna Flor and Nathan and the rest of "the gang". I was explaining as best I can to a friend in Tucson day before yesterday the mystery of being so different within the body of Christ. I mentioned the people who are "just war" advocates and those of us that are "just peace" advocates being nonviolent. I pointed out some specific differences and tried to backtrack - "we are human, fallible, broken, unable to see which adds to the awesome ability of people with such diverse 'callings' in Our God to be in the same Body of Christ which are in part our congregations." My friend replied, "I cannot live like that - I need a congregation that is united with a common ideology." After that conversation I contimplated how much better it is to be a part of a congregation that recognizes we are each "children of Our God part of His Body". I'm reading a book "I am a Palestinian" by Mitri Raheb a Lutheran Pastor in Bethlahem's Christmas Lutan Church. The book proclaims Palestinian Christians role to be that of mediating between all faiths emphasizing our common love - peace - nonviolent theologies AND acting on them. I am privaledged to know you in your efforts and to feel to the almost didactic differences within my congregation here in Green Valley as well as our denomination YET at our best each person I believe is in the fold - a part of Christ's Body - His Church even as we go out to recognize all people of Faith in God are also part of God's Body - the Universe, known and unknown. Cara