A letter from Gloria Garcia in Mexico
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Andres and I send our most warm greetings to you in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We at Puentes de Cristo, in Hidalgo, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico, are delighted to report you that thanks to your faithful support, the mission work of the PC(USA) is making steady progress in all the programs we are developing in Hidalgo and Reynosa. The story of our mission in this part of the world had gone through difficult times since the breaking of relations with the PC(USA) by the Iglesia National Presbiteriana de Mexico. Nevertheless and despite those circumstances, the ministry of Puentes de Cristo, to which Andres and I were assigned, was in no way drawn back and we never left! We are grateful to our Lord for the solid progress in our work, because we are seeing the hand of God at work opening the way to make a profound impact on communities and individuals in this part of the U.S.–Mexico border.
Challenges at the Border: A New Historic Referent
Recent events have made our work environment very difficult. With the beginning of 21st century a new age began. Nations, people and their cultures entered in a new process of redefinition of concepts and values about “identities” and “abilities” to live and function within a new globalized world order. It is an undeniable fact that in the last years the immediate world of our mission has experienced rapid and unexpected changes, which in various ways has led to transformation in the lives of individuals, families and the wider social fabric that nourishes and sustains human life in it. This changing and transforming reality must be the continual concern in our ministry, in permanent dialog with our particular referent, which is the gospel’s word as ultimate criteria to measure and value the effectiveness of our testimony in the name of Jesus Christ.
As mission co-workers of the PC(USA), our work is an interrelated action with society, and therefore we have to be aware of and well prepared to identify the changes, dangers and transformations so that we may be capable to perform in our job in the correct course of our immediate context. This task is like climbing aboard a sailboat driven by strong winds on the turbulent waters of a vast ocean. It is crucial for us and those with whom we work to know, observe and discern the signs of our circumstances and times, because only then will we have the gifts and abilities to pilot our ship without sinking in the stormy waters of social, economic, religious and cultural context surrounding Puentes de Cristo today.
Self-Development of People and Communities
A Better Life for Women in Reynosa
The goal of the Self-Development Program is to help restore self-esteem and hope through skills training and educational opportunities in areas where the beneficiaries of our work are lacking. The program focuses on skills training, education and recreation. In the skills training area, Puentes offers the opportunity to learn sewing and cosmetology. The program is designated for one year, with the assistance of professional teachers provided by the municipal government of Reynosa.
Through this ministry Puentes de Cristo, the PC(USA) and the local government continue to serve marginalized women who struggle to make a living, who are learning to open their own business and provide for their families. One of the specific goals of this program is the development of manual skills so they can become qualified workers. Also once they finish this program, Puentes provides follow-up assistance for starting a small business at home or opening a beauty salon or sewing workshop. In July 2012 Puentes graduated 14 new beauticians and 10 new seamstress entrepreneurs. Puentes grants a “Diploma” as proof of program accomplishment.
Join us in prayers:
• For Puentes de Cristo’s volunteer worker needed to assist us at our office in Hidalgo, Texas.
• For the future of Presbyterian Border Ministries (PBM). Next October 17-19 the six sites along the border, including Puentes de Cristo, will gather in El Paso, Texas, to discern and propose strategies for the life and future of PBM.
• For Puentes’ Board of Directors annual meeting on November 17. Normally during this meeting Puentes makes an assessment of all its projects and activities performed throughout the ending fiscal year. Also, it will be a time for approval of the budget for 2013 and the new initiatives of work.
• Hold Andres and me in your thoughts before God. Life in Reynosa is quite challenging and eventually unsafe. May your prayers keep us under the loving care of the Lord.
In the fellowship with Christ,
Andres and Gloria Garcia
PC(USA) Coordinator for Puentes de Cristo
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 4