We are sharing the stories of two women we encountered recently on border immersion trip. These women are doing amazing work welcoming vulnerable people in the borderlands. We hope their stories will challenge and inspire you to learn more and pray about how you can share Christlike welcome in your own communities.
She and her husband shepherded the church in Tijuana, Mexico for twenty-nine years. In 2016, they saw a great need growing around them and knew they must do something to respond. They met a family from Haiti that was without food or a safe place to stay as they tried to seek asylum in the United States. This family opened their eyes to the plight of displaced people all around them. “Our church is an empty space that can be used to provide a place to rest and we can give people good for to enjoy,” they said. They converted their sanctuary into a shelter and have been helping families in need ever since.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, they continued to respond to the needs around the. Not willing to turn away those looking for assistance, they continued to serve the community. Adriana’s husband succumbed to complications to Covid-19, but she carried on the work.
The Immigrant Community Brings Us Blessings
Our Women of Welcome group did not have much time with Pastor Adriana when we visited the borderlands in the summer of 2023, but it was evident in that short time that she is highly respected and loved by those in her community. We entered the church grounds to find migrant families and volunteers sitting together in the courtyard. They were preparing lunch to share with us. Pastor Adriana introduced herself and shared a bit of her story with us. She told us about her own difficulties but how God—largely through the migrant community around her—was providing.
“The immigrant community brings us blessings,” she said. “We are all sojourners and need to serve one another.” She shared how her house caught fire recently and those who were talking shelter in the church came to help her clean up the mess caused by the fire. “I was just telling the community how we ought to serve others,” she said, “and they came to serve me.” She was ordained the week before we arrived, doing all she could to carry on the work of her husband and care for the community. Not everyone agreed that she should be the Pastor and she lost important financial support for the church and shelter. “I chose to move forward and not let this stand in my way,” she told us. “It is important for the ministry to keep moving forward. Remember God’s word about not abandoning foreigners among us,” she admonished us.
The Least We Can Do is Provide a Place of Rest
As we spooned tamales and hot sauce onto our plates, we were encouraged to take more. The volunteers, visitors, and migrants pulled up chairs together but many of the asylum seekers sat together, speaking in Spanish. “We have many challenges here,” Adriana told us. “We’re all different nationalities and backgrounds here. But guided by God’s wisdom people keep coming. They are afraid. They don’t know if they can trust us. They’ve been through long journeys to get here. But we want this space to be like an oasis in their journey. The lease we can do is provide a place of rest for them.”
After a few minutes a few of the ladies begin to share with our Women of Welcome team. The food is a combination of cuisines from El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico, they tell us. They all bring flavors of their home with the to share with others. They didn’t want to flee the danger in their home countries, but they felt they had no choice. Many of them received misinformation about immigration laws and the ability to seek asylum at the U.S. southern border. Now they are waiting for their turn. They have come too far to turn back but they don’t know when they will be able to present themselves at the border for their chance to enter the United States.
One young woman stands and tells us she is there with her three month old daughter. They traveled f rom Honduras and have been staying at the shelter. “I admire Pastor Adriana’s bravery,” she says. “Her husband passed away and she continues in this work. Please pray I get my asylum appointment so I can present myself at the border.”
Now, what will we do?
We prayed for Pastor Adriana and the people staying at the shelter, but had to leave to get back to the border crossing point we had entered through before it closed for the day. As we drove away we all wished we could have stayed longer to speak with the women and children at the shelter, done more to help. When we all left, it was Pastor Adriana who remained—diligent in the good work God has given her to show welcome to the sojourners in her community. We all carried thoughts of her in our hearts in the coming days, asking ourselves what we would do if we were in her situation, in her community.
We may not be working close to the border but we know someone who is, and we can pray for her and support her work. We may not have a church to open up to others, but we have homes we can offer hospitality in. Now that we’ve heard Pastor Adriana’s story, what will we do?