By Carla Wynn Davis
(ATLANTA, Georgia) – Buckner International, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of the West will work together to establish ministry along the Mexican border with Arizona and California.
The three organizations – plus Together for Hope, CBF’s rural poverty initiative – signed a memorandum of understanding for this collaborative ministry during the Fellowship’s annual General Assembly in June in Memphis, Tenn.
The collaborative will facilitate mission immersion experiences for U.S. churches along the border in an effort in educate Baptists about how to reach Hispanics in their own communities. Building off the success of KidsHeart – a ministry partnership between Together for Hope and Buckner in the Rio Grande Valley – this new collaborative will expand similar ministries to Arizona beginning this summer.
“Arizona – in particular – has the border and border towns, and we thought we could do the same [projects] here,” said Glen Foster, pastor of Pantano Baptist Church in Tucson and coordinator of CBF West.
“This partnership paves the way for significant ministry by CBF churches among the most neglected in the southwestern portion of the nation,” said CBF Global Missions coordinator Rob Nash. “I am delighted that CBF and Buckner can extend our collaboration beyond Texas and in partnership with CBF West.”
The ministry collaborative aims to reach as far as California, where San Isidro Baptist Church is ready to work in partnership to reach needs in their area and in Mexico.
“Just like the Rio Grande Valley, poverty is the overwhelming need,” said Dexton Shores, Buckner’s director of ministry development for Mexico and Border.
Mission teams will be able to help orphanages, people living in sub-standard housing and churches with construction needs. Other area needs include water purification, medical and dental assistance, and teaching people job skills.
“We will partner together to respond to these needs,” Shores said.
The collaborative will address poverty in a Christ-centered, asset-based approach that is consistent with the principles and objectives of Together for Hope, which addresses poverty in 20 of the poorest counties in the United States.
“We work with communities in long-term ways to address root causes of poverty through relationships with people,” said Jeremy Lewis, manager of Together for Hope. “Anytime we work with communities we learn more. My hope is that people along the [Arizona and California] border will be able to assist in our commitment to counties along the Texas-Mexico border.”
Ministry projects begin next summer in Arizona under local coordination of Leo Garcia, who serves as pastor of The Lighthouse, a Spanish-speaking congregation in Tucson. Fellowship partner churches are invited to participate in projects and can contact Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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