A lack of economic possibilities and danger from criminal gangs affect many people across South and Central America. Driven by hope for a better life, people make the arduous journey north to the US-Mexico border. They often travel thousands of miles, cross country borders, navigate treacherous trails, and endure hunger, fear, and robbery. Tens of thousands finally arrive at the border each month, with few or no possessions left and an uncertain future.
Who are they and why are they leaving home?
Many of these travelers simply long for opportunities to build better lives for themselves and their families. Economic and political problems in countries like Haiti and Venezuela make daily life a struggle. Others from places like Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala report similar financial difficulties.
US-Mexico border crisis at a glance
- Thousands of travelers arrive arrive at the border each month.
- Travelers come from Haiti, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other places.
- Many people arrive at the border with few or no resources.
Alberto* told believers that he left his home in Venezuela with his wife and two young children to escape financial extortion and threats. Alberto owned a repair shop in his hometown and faced demands from dishonest local authorities. They threatened to kidnap one of his children or kill his wife when he said he couldn’t meet their orders.
Scraping together what he could, Alberto prepared to make the difficult journey north. Along the way, the family endured a week of picking their way through the formidable Darien Gap, a roadless region of jungle, marsh, and mountains connecting South and Central America. The area is known for steep trails, wild animals, and thieves.
Alberto’s family finally reached the US-Mexico border, but with depleted resources. They were rejected when they attempted to cross to the United States. They set up “home” in a camp with hundreds of other migrants, hoping to cross the border sometime. Alberto testified that in times like these, all one has left is God.
Alberto’s story of financial struggles, difficult travel, loss, and disappointment is repeated along the US-Mexico border. Conditions are difficult for migrants who shelter in plastic tents or empty buildings while they hope to eventually enter America. Food, hygiene items, and other necessities are often hard to come by.
Pointing to the heavenly country
As these people hope against hope to be accepted into the United States, we have a unique opportunity to point them to the heavenly country. We work with conservative Anabaptist believers who are stationed near the border. They interact with migrants in Mexico and hear their stories, hold Bible studies for adults, share stories with children, and distribute Bibles, Bible story books, and other Christian literature.
These believers witness a deep spiritual hunger. One described the desire for Bibles as “next to phenomenal!”
When an elderly Haitian man was asked why he wanted a Bible, he responded that he needs the Word of God to feed his spiritual life. One woman said, “I used to have a Bible, but I left it in the Darien Gap because I just had too much of a load. I know you shouldn’t just discard your Bible, but I didn’t know what else to do!”
A believer who helps distribute Bibles noted, “I wish you could see the joy with which some of these [people] take their Bibles and clasp them to their hearts.”
We don’t know what these people’s futures hold, or what country they will make their home. But we know God is opening doors for us to show compassion and bring His Word to people in uncertain, vulnerable situations. We are hoping to expand this work and take advantage of this unique opportunity, right on our southern border. If you wish to help, your support will enable us to provide spiritual teaching, Bibles, Bible story books, and Christian literature. God bless you!
*Name is changed to protect identity.
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