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Church Crosses Border

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A short trip down the road, and over the border, has changed the lives of people living in one Texas town. And, as they've thought of ways to help their Mexican neighbors, their own community has been transformed. Reed Galin reports.

 
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SCRIPT:

(Locator: Juarez, Mexico)

(Voice of Al Lindstrom, Church Volunteer) “We are in Juarez, Mexico.”

Fertile seeds are being planted in this barren land.

(Class recites, en Espanol)

Nearly every Saturday for the past several years, members of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in El Paso have driven into the fringes of Mexico to help their neighbors just across the border.

(Group sings) “Jesus loves me…”

Norma Ricci, Member, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church: “They had no idea that just 40 minutes away people are living in the desert in cardboard boxes.

(Mr. Antonio speaks with Blanca)

Blanca Rivera, Member, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church: “This is Mr. Antonio. He was discharged from the hospital the same day he had surgery on his leg. Because he did not have money, he was discharged the same day. He was just kind of thrown out of the hospital. I come and visit him and we bring him food, dog food for the dog, water.”

There was a time when members of St. Mark’s seldom ventured from their pews.

(Church members sing)

The Rev. Thomas E. Nagle, Senior Pastor, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church: “This church was actually having a lot of difficulties. It was the church nobody wanted to come to in terms of pastors. In fact, three guys had turned it down.”

(Pastor Hopkins preaches) “So, when Satan comes up against you…”

Pastor Tom Nagle could see church members were hungry for new ideas, so he teamed with a dynamic contemporary pastor.

(Pastor Hopkins preaches) “It’s what the word of God says, you can look him dead in the face...”

Today, Felicia Hopkins’ services rock one side of the church while Tom’s more traditional fare soothes the other.

The Rev. Felicia P. Hopkins, Associate Pastor, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church: “People are hurting in this world, and they really want to know that the Potter is willing to make them over again, anew.”

When church members started putting the focus on helping others, an amazing thing happened. Membership grew with the commitment to community service. During weekly visits across the border, the church runs a school and assists residents with ongoing needs.

The Rev. Carlos Chacon, Mission Coordinator, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church: “We see them learning English, getting better jobs. The future is very bright for these people. They’re being fed. They’re being taken care of. So I am just very optimistic, very happy about it.”

(Music) “Jesus my Lord…”

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During the school year, more than a dozen volunteers from St. Mark’s cross the border to teach “Saturday school” in Juarez, Mexico. Sixty people of all ages come regularly to learn English and share a meal. St. Mark’s is in the process of acquiring land to build an elementary school and a community center in Juarez.

The church has started a non-profit, called Borderland Missions of Mercy, to oversee the school and community center. For more information, contact Al Lindstrom at 915-833-6555.