LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Compassionate Kentucky Baptists are looking for ways to help with the growing crisis on the Southern border.
Coy Webb, the director of the Kentucky Disaster Relief, said he receives frequent calls from church leaders and others asking him how they can be of assistance. Even with the crisis being far removed from the commonwealth, the stories are compelling Kentucky Baptists to take action.
“Kentuckians are extremely gracious,” Webb said. “For our size convention, it’s always amazing how our churches give to causes like this, where there is a legitimate need.”
The key to giving is finding trusted partners and being cautious, Webb said. “People have good intentions but that’s the wisest course, to find good partners.. We’ve been referring people to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.”
Scottie Stice, the Disaster Relief director for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said the No. 1 need is prayer. “First of all, they need to pray. We need prayer.”
Stice said financial donations are always a good option, allowing those on site to purchase what is most needed. More information on how to give through the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention can be found by clicking here.
Webb and John Barnett, a KBC missions strategist, put together some options for Kentucky Baptists who want to help.
Barnett said the relief kits are especially popular with churches who want to be involved by collecting items and sending it along so it will benefit those who need it. “If a church wants to give, you want to make sure it gets to the right people,” he said.
Webb said finding that reliable source in the area where donations are going is critical.
“We have churches with the best of intentions that start collecting items without knowing the need,” he said. “You can send things, but it doesn’t mean a trailer load of stuff is even going to be allowed in. If it’s verified that it’s a need from a source on the ground, there’s nothing wrong with it. I know Baptists, and there is something that makes us feel good when we hold something in our hands (to donate). But financial donations are the best way to help, as it helps ministry partners to meet the real need.”
The Southern Border crisis has been overwhelming. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deployed 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to assist the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Patrol and Congress passed a $4.5 billion border relief.
Ministry church groups in New Mexico, Texas and California have assisted through meals and other areas of compassion.
West Brownsville Baptist Church in Texas began serving as an overflow respite center in April. Church members converted Sunday school rooms and other spaces to shelter migrants.
As of July 7, more than 2,000 migrants had come through the church’s migrant release shelter, rotating in and out, from 35 to over 100 per day.
“They are sending us the most vulnerable, moms and dads with children, and single moms with children,” West Brownsville Pastor Carlos Navarro said, noting that migrants from South and Central America, India, Pakistan, and Africa have sheltered at the church after clearing ICE.
The city of Brownsville has financed efforts at other respite centers, but West Brownsville Baptist has received no city funding and has relied upon donations, including significant grants from the SBTC and NAMB, according to Baptist Press. The Red Cross donated 1,000 toiletry kits, some blankets and 20 cots.
Navarro says that, besides funds for supplies, West Brownsville Baptist needs adult, infant and children’s t-shirts and underwear from sizes small to large, disposable diapers, flip flops or Crocs in all sizes, personal hygiene wipes and disinfecting wipes.
“We go through a bottle and a half of Lysol a day to keep things sanitary,” Navarro said.
He also needs 1960 King James Version Spanish-language Bibles with black covers, because West Brownsville is addressing both the spiritual and physical needs of the migrants. Navarro shares the gospel. More than 1,000 of the shelter’s 2,000 plus guests have trusted Christ as Savior to date.
Stice said a DR shower and laundry unit have deployed to West Brownsville Baptist to assist the church’s efforts.
In addition to the work of churches like West Brownsville along the border, SBTC DR volunteers have teamed with the Salvation Army in El Paso and Del Rio this spring and summer to serve migrants who have passed through security, been vetted by the border patrol and undergone medical screening before arriving at temporary shelters.
Stice said DR teams from Mexico, Arizona and Alabama have come alongside Texas. Texas Relief (TXR) will soon begin an unsolicited volunteer program but no minors can participate, he said.
For information on sending supplies directly to the migrant release shelter ministry there, visit the church’s Facebook page or website or email Navarro at firstname.lastname@example.org.