In Juarez 1, I wrote about the poverty. The poverty in Juarez does not stop at the doorway of the manse. As John Nelson, pastor of University Presbyterian Church in El Paso, president of PBM and member of the binational committee of Pasos de Fe, told me, "A point of pain and concern is that my colleagues (the pastors) in Juarez are all poor."
You may not notice it immediately because most have a church provided house, a car, televisions, and computers, however, it is hard to do ministry in any context without these tools. It comes home when you get close enough to learn that two of the most prominent pastors have cars that won't run and they cannot afford to spend $500 to repair them. Oddly, both cars broke down when I was to interview them. Am I bad luck or what?
If you have a car sitting idol or nearly so, I'll arrange to get it here.
These colleagues do not lack in zeal for their work. Only in Colombia have I witnessed pastors working under such adverse conditions to serve Jesus. Mercedes "Meche" Romo Castro is pastor of a church that requires his attention but agreed to become coordinator of Pasos de Fe at a very low salary, at his suggestion, to fulfill a commitment to ministry at the commnity center that was made years ago. He spends about 4 hours a day at the center working with the community and planning and working to develop the center.
While there is much to do, the library is opperating and the computer lab is up and running. The center seeks to provide a place for the children to do their homework. The schools require that some homework be done on computers and many do not have computers. Internet is understood to be a doorway to the future for the children. The center will also provide services that are lacking for the multitudes of poor in Juarez. Meche's dreams are infectious and others are easily drawn to his dreams for the future. (If you have a computer or monitor that is less than 5 years old, I have a place for it.)
One way the ministry has found to minister to the community is to atack a major helath concern: rabies. Saturday, they held a rabies clinic at the center to vaccinate dogs and cats for rabies. A veternarian from one of the churches is donating time and supplies. A rabies outbreak in such a congested community as surrounds the center would be devastating but many of the people have to decide whether to vaccinate the dog (a weeks salary) or buy food for the children. It is obvious the dogs get only the scraps from the table.
In this simple outreach, we see St. Francis of Assisi in action—showing concern for the least of these reaches into the hearts and lives of the rest of God's creation.