The situation along the U.S.-Mexico border is not good, with some Christian leaders describing it as “unconscionable” and “heartbreaking.” There are some, though, who are none too pleased with the reporting about the crisis.
Sharing an article from the Associated Press, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the conditions for migrant children at the border “should shock all of our consciences.”
There were others, though, who immediately took issue with the coverage of the border crisis, and with Moore, in particular.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, personally attacked the ERLC leader as “a bureaucrat” who is undeserving of any “authority” to speak out on the issue of immigration.
Soon thereafter, Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, tweeted it was “extremely disappointing” to see Moore sharing “a very inaccurate report.” He invited Moore to visit the border with him.
Curious to know what Graham and his church are doing to assist those along the country’s southern border, I reached out to the megachurch pastor, who referred me to Gilberto Corredera, pastor of Prestonwood en Español.
About a year ago, Corredera told Faithwire, Prestonwood, which is not situated in a border town, partnered with a church in Brownsville, a city in South Texas sharing a border with Matamoros, Mexico, and home to Casa Padre, a former Walmart converted into a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children.
“We are not located on the border, so the best thing we can do is partner with churches that are on the border,” he said, noting the relationship Prestonwood has with the Brownsville church is one of many.
Corredera, who has visited several border towns and detention facilities, said when migrants are released, they are often met by churches that take them in, feed them, give them shelter and clean clothes to wear until they are bused to be reunited with their family members.
But more than provide for their physical needs, the pastor said, it’s important to “share the love of the Lord” with the migrants.
There’s no doubt the situation for these children is bleak — several reports have detailed the poor conditions in which many of the migrant kids are living — but the best way to help them, Corredera explained, is by forging strong relationships with Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
“They are human beings, too,” Corredera said of the border agents. “They have families, they have feelings. … I saw them so compassionate about it, so concerned about it, heartbroken for [unaccompanied migrant kids].”
Many of the agents, he added, use their own money to buy food and water for the kids when they first greet them at the U.S. border.
“It’s not as simple as maybe the news wants to make it,” Corredera said, noting the Border Patrol is short on personnel, “so they don’t have enough people to do the job.”
Prestonwood’s work with those impacted by the migrant crisis first made headlines last summer, when President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka donated $50,000 to the church. A report in early December 2018 by The Dallas Morning News noted the cash had been spent on relief work, which included 1,500 boxes packed by Prestonwood en Español members.
Corredera didn’t give many more details regarding where, specifically, Ivanka’s donation went. Overall, he said a lot of the money the church gives goes directly to help children at the border by providing food, water, hygiene products, and clothing. They also spent money at the end of the year to give the children Christmas gifts.
As for what he would tell politicians in Washington, D.C., the Prestonwood en Español pastor said our lawmakers “have to work together.”
“It doesn’t matter who brings the solution or brings the proposal. If both parties don’t work together to [solve this problem], we’re gonna still be doing this for a long time.”
But until Congress comes together, Corredera said, he is just helping churches do “what we have to do.”