A letter from Andres Garcia in Mexico
Late Summer 2013
Dearest Family in Christ,
Gloria and I send our greetings to you from Reynosa, Mexico, and Hidalgo, Texas. We pray and hope with unbreakable faith in God that his overflowing love may continue to be with you every day.
Here, surrounded by the noisy and vibrant life of our noble Mexican neighbors, we lift our hearts full of optimism from leaning on God’s strength, which always will be with us until the end of our service. Inspired by that promise, despite discouraging signs in the deteriorating Mexican social and economic landscape, we continue holding our mission post by focusing on the work of doing activities and programs for life-transforming experiences. In the midst of swampy streets, many sections covered by filthy waters from the sewer system, we walk back and forth to accomplish the difficult task of unleashing the human potential in the lives of children and woman at the fringes of Reynosa City. Gloria, myself, and our folks at Colonia Lucio Blanco thank God and celebrate the small but meaningful achievements we are making.
At the end of July Obra Presbiteriana Fronteriza Asociacion Civil (our partner branch in Mexico) completed the academic year at the Community Center in Lucio Blanco, where we offered programs in community development, sewing and cosmetology. We’re thankful for the opportunity to host a Summer Bible School July 15-20, where 20 children from our nutrition program participated in song, play, arts and crafts, and a daily Christian Education class. Through this specific event the kids were led in a path of discovering God’s love for them. The Bible stories like 'the young man raised from the dead' (Luke 7:11-17) were powerful means for them to experience Jesus' love in their own lives. As the outcast ones in Mexican society, they told God in their prayers how grateful they are for the gift of life amidst the many hardships in the neighborhood of Lucio Blanco. Here drug traffic, prostitution, criminality among juvenile gangs, and lack of expectations for life in future—all of these circumstances—constitute the social reality these kids have to endure every day.
We’re very thankful for the support of our brothers and sisters from churches of Mission Presbytery in Texas, Potomac Presbyterian Church in Maryland, Arlington Presbyterian Church in D.C., several churches in Virginia—Christiansburg Presbyterian Church, Covington Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church Roanoke, New Doubling Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church Blackburg, Sardis Presbyterian Church—Gillwood Presbyterian Church in North Carolina, and all those faithful individual donors who sent their checks to help Puentes de Cristo to create an appropriate and decent kitchen to work in. We hope to finish the project for the start of the new academic year in September and are looking forward to continuing our Bible study and groups of Christian discipleship.
We would like to invite you to keep our work in your prayers as we at Puentes de Cristo continue our mission as ambassadors for Christ in the task of reconciliation in the midst of a violent and exclusive culture against women. Here, for example, is the story of Mercedes and Victor. Victor murdered Mercedes because he became jealous. Victor and Mercedes were undocumented immigrants who lived here in Hidalgo, Texas, for many years. While living in the U.S.A. they had three kids (3, 6, and 9 years old), but the parents were deported back to Mexico, leaving behind the most important piece of their lives: their three children. Victor is now in prison in Mexico, sentenced for life, while the three kids are orphans, surviving under the care of their grandmother.
As with many, the story of Mercedes and Victor is heartbreaking. On the one hand there is Lucio Blanco with an overwhelming necessity to educate men and women regarding the precious value of life, the integrity of human beings, and equal rights before God and civil laws. On the other hand, with the same degree of importance, there is the need to provide opportunities and choices for women to develop professional skills, middle education careers, entrepreneurial initiatives that may encourage women to believe in themselves as having capabilities and human dignity. Our discipleship in Christ doesn't allow us to turn our back before situations like this but to do our best in service through Christ-like behavior.
So, bonded by the love of Christ to our partners in Mexico, we must redouble our efforts to position ourselves together as true peacemakers, working side by side toward a culture of nonviolence and the restoration of good neighborly relations. Through these efforts Christians from North and South will witness the reconciliation power of Christ and ultimately will face down hatred at its very roots in order to share the good news of the redeeming love of our Lord and God.
In light of God’s peace message Gloria and I would like to announce in advance that beginning in April 2014 we will enlarge our work as Mission Interpreters in the U.S.A. Visits to congregations, presbyteries, churches and presbytery events are being scheduled for the Mexico-U.S. side of the border. During such visits and events people will be informed through audiovisual media on the development and progress of the work of Puentes de Cristo Inc./Obra Presbiteriana Fronteriza Asociacion Civil. You can reach us at the Puentes de Cristo office, firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: 956-843-7277, Hidalgo, Texas. You can also reach us at email@example.com; cell phone 956-279-1933. Hurry! Time is running fast!
We encourage you and your local congregation to take steps to become personally involved in our challenging and fascinating ministry. You can see and read more about us in our past newsletters at the Mission Connection website of the PC(USA) (see the "Read more…" link below). You can also see us at work at Puentes de Cristo website at www.puentesdecristo.org.
To end this letter we would to invite you to join us in prayer for the New Hispanic Community fellowship in Hidalgo, Texas. First Presbyterian Church of McAllen, Puentes de Cristo, and Mission Presbytery joining gifts, efforts and prayers to claim Hidalgo City as mission ground where people of God will worship, proclaim and serve Him without walls and no borders. Pray and support with your gifts this new ministry.
Finally, we would like to send our words of thanks to all of you who never gave up in providing us your continued financial support and prayers. For our readers who don't know us personally, we want to tell you that we need your support. Things have changed since Gloria and I came aboard 26 years ago. If Presbyterian lovers of mission don't act now with gifts above and beyond regular church offerings, there will not be a mission for us in the near future. Just remember that we, your simple missionary folks, are the hands and feet of your missionary heart.
Andres & Gloria Garcia
Puentes de Cristo U.S. Coordinators
Write to Andrés Garcia
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Individuals: Give online to MI910060 for Andrés and Gloria Garcia's sending and support
Congregations: Give to D501720 for Andrés and Gloria Garcia's sending and support