SAN DIEGO (BP)–Tourists move with ease across the border from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico, carried by trolleys that cover the route several times a day. But where the trolley line stops another trail begins — a sewage-laden river leading to hundreds of women and children living in a garbage dump.
Seven members of the Baptist Communicators Association and four of their family members brought food, clothing and a message of hope in Christ to the residents of Riverside Dump in Tijuana as part of BCA’s first official mission trip.
The 11 participants arrived a day early in San Diego for the organization’s annual meeting April 24-26 in order to distribute the items and share their faith. They distributed 75 bags of clothes and 200 bags each of beans and rice.
The team also visited Tijuana’s Shalom Center, a ministry that focuses on reaching children with the Gospel in the city of 2 million people, as well as a local pastor’s house where San Diego Baptist Association pastors and teachers hold Bible classes.
The mission trip was organized in conjunction with San Diego Baptist Association, which identified the dump as a priority ministry area. In addition, BCA is sending $500 in mission offering funds to the association, recommending that the funds be used to buy gas for the Shalom Center van to transport children to and from the center. Gasoline currently costs the equivalent of $4 per gallon in Tijuana.
During previous annual meetings, BCA members have collected offerings and items for local ministries. This year, BCA enlarged the opportunity for missions involvement “to raise awareness of a strategic mission need among communicators and to encourage them to make the need known,” said Mark Snowden, BCA missions vice president and communications director for the International Mission Board.
The area surrounding the dump is a dichotomy of social and economic conditions, said Cam Tracy, web development agent for Union University in Jackson, Tenn. “Houses at the top of the hill overlooked the dump less than 100 yards away where people had no homes except those made from cardboard or wood pallets.”
As many as 200 women — many pregnant or with small children — live in makeshift shelters at the dump, Snowden said. Many of them, including a few older men and women, traveled there from Central America and were abandoned.
“They were there because they could not make it into America to fulfill their dreams, and this was the end of the line for them,” Snowden said.
Snowden and Stacey Hamby were among the four team members who shared their testimonies via translator Alfonso Garcia.
“Even though conditions are so much harder for them there, I related to them as a mom trying to provide for your children,” said Hamby, communications director for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “I shared that even though I live in the United States and they lived there, I look to God as my Father to take care of me and comfort me, just like they could.”
Other mission team members were Todd Mullins, Union University; Robert Murdaugh, Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes; Robert Reeves, Kentucky Baptist Convention, and his wife Elza; and Cathy Humphrey, Georgia Baptist Developmental Disabilities Ministries, her husband, Lloyd, and children, Amanda and Baker.
For more information on the Riverside Dump ministry, contact the San Diego Baptist Association at (619) 275-2550.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: COMMUNICATORS’ OUTREACH and BCA OUTREACH.