MFSA Delegation Visits The Rio Grande Valley

On January 18 – 20, a group of 9 people from the Methodist Federation for Social Action in Austin went to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) on an immigration education tour. Steve Hamlett, Kenneth Henry and Deana Henry are from Trinity Church Austin.  Anne Mund, Rowland Curry, Al Lindsay, Pat Stewart, Patsy Hickey, and Lyn Loeffler are members of Saint John’s UMC Austin.  Our guide for the tour was Susan Hellums, Border Area Mission Coordinator for the El Valle District from First UMC McAllen.

A more detailed description of our visit will soon be available on our website.

On Thursday, we attended a presentation in San Juan on the RGV Equal Voice Network, which has several components addressing the following issues:  health care, education, wages and jobs, housing, and transportation.  The housing initiative, Proyecto Azteca, was founded in 1991 by Cesar Chavez, is similar to “sweat equity” programs like Habitat for Humanity, and has 4,000 families on its waiting list.

Friday, we traveled to the Hidalgo County Park to view the Rio Grande River, Mexico, and portions of the border wall.  We then went to First UMC McAllen to hear a presentation on the Tamar’s Tapestry program by Tracy Hughes.  We were joined by Robert Lopez, Superintendent of the El Valle District.  Tamar’s Tapestry provides intervention, education, and restoration for victims of human trafficking in the RGV.  Data is horrifying; there are an estimated 79,000 persons in Texas that are victims of commercial sex trafficking.

After this presentation and lunch, we drove to San Benito to visit La Posada Providencia, a short-term shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers.  While it is a Catholic charity, La Posada receives help from the UMC in many ways.  Deaconess Cindy Johnson was our guide at La Posada as we visited with the Sisters and others.  We were introduced to a group of about a dozen immigrants from Central America, Cuba, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

Saturday morning, we toured the Humanitarian Respite Center, sponsored by the Catholic Charities RGV, where refugees in transit are provided with information, food, clothing, hygiene products, and other assistance before boarding a bus to join family, friends, or sponsors in other parts of the country.  Our group then volunteered to do a short service project, sorting donated clothing for the refugees.

Before heading back to Austin, we drove through a Colonia near Edinburgh to observe the conditions that we had heard about in several presentations.

This MFSA road trip was extremely enlightening and educational, and we hope it will guide us in pursuing further mission opportunities related to immigration.  Our plan is to present an in-depth report on this trip at a future meeting, most likely in April.

From Bethany UMC Austin and World Vision

Guests experience first hand what it's like to live in World Vision sponsorship regions such as South America, Africa, and South Asia through audio and visual aides in the World Vision Experience mobile exhibit at Faith Community Church in Hopkinton, MA.

Guests experience first hand what it’s like to live in World Vision sponsorship regions such as South America, Africa, and South Asia through audio and visual aides in the World Vision Experience mobile exhibit at Faith Community Church in Hopkinton, MA.

Follow Jesus
Into the Margins

Bethany UMC-Austin

10010 Anderson Mill Rd

Thu Oct 27  11:00am – 5:00pm
 Fri   Oct 28*   3:00pm – 8:00pm
Sat  Oct 29    1:00pm – 6:30pm
Sun Oct 30    9:00am – 2:00pm

*Oct 28, 5:30-7:30 PM ONLY:
Free music by Bethany Guitar Pull
Food available by Melted Food Truck 

FREE

Register your Tour Time Now!

This award-winning mobile exhibit from World Vision offers a unique opportunity to journey among those suffering in the margins of our world, and emerge transformed.

During the 20 minute journey, visitors will witness despair and hope in a brothel in Southeast Asia, see how God is working in the midst of the Syria refugee crisis, and join Christ in the midst of extreme poverty in Africa.

Reservations are recommended, but not required. Attend Thursday – Saturday for shorter lines.

Click Here to Register Your Tour Time Now!

Parental discretion is advised for children under 13.
Parental Discretion Information Here

website: www.bethany-umc.org/experience.