ACUNA, Mexico – Acuna, Mexico is a border town just across the Rio Grande River from Texas. Families use scrap materials and anything that they can find for shelter. First Baptist Church, Slater, and First Baptist Church, Marshall, found a way to minister to this need.
“In October, we caravanned to Mexico,” Paul List, FBC Slater pastor, said. “We worked with Casas por Cristo to build a house for a family of five. We were able to meet this tangible need while strengthening the church.”
According to the Casas por Cristo web site, a typical family in Acuna earns $60 a week. This amount is barely enough to cover the basic needs of the family. Public education is not free and costs for schooling and food limits the amount of money to be spent on housing.
Robert Harris, deacon and member of FBC Slater, explained the impact on the family. “Relating to the mother and three children was wonderful,” he said. “We didn’t see a lot of the father because he had to work. They were thankful for our week because the family was living in one room.”
“We met a concrete truck at the house location,” List said. “We couldn’t get close enough to the pad to pour it, so we used wheelbarrows to move the concrete from the truck to the home site.”
“Moving the concrete brought out the neighbors,” Harris said. “One neighbor, Carlos, brought his own wheelbarrow and worked every day. He did not speak any English, so we just pointed, and he completed jobs.”
In addition to the building of the house, the Missouri team held Vacation Bible School for the neighborhood children.
“We wanted to be intentional on loving on the families,” List explained. “We put up two pop-up tents and shared the gospel with the Spanish version of Superbook. We also took plenty of coloring books with gospel stories as well as children’s material to leave with them.”
“Kites and soccer balls were also wonderful for the children and I’m glad we brought those,” Harris said. “The children were happy with any interaction with us whether they could speak our language or not.”
The team worked with the local church, Three Chords, and the pastor was there every day. List said the church services are closed because of COVID-19.
“The church family was supposed to get the house in March, but the trip was postponed because of COVID,” he said. “Casas por Cristo has its own missionaries and many of them had to return because they were not receiving love offerings from groups.”
Harris described the trip as a “life-changing” experience. “I’m so glad that God opened this opportunity for me to go, it was my first trip and I enjoyed it. Our pastor leads by example, he went on two of these building trips in June and when I heard him talk about it, I knew I wanted to go.”
“This trip was not about the house,” Harris continued. “It is about the family, the neighbors and the people that we get to share the love of Christ with while we work. The house is only a vehicle that God uses.”