Books for the Border and Beyond projects in the Rio Grande Valley put the final exclamation point on another year of ministry for Literacy Connexus. In late October, Olmito Community Church added to its ongoing local ministry with a family reading fair. Days later, the senior adults of FBC Zachary, LA, arrived in La Joya with their sleeves rolled up.
The Zachary crew brought enthusiasm plus the experience of two prior Valley mission trips. Church member Sharon Rabalais explained, "Every year we do everything we can to prepare, but we also trust that God has an even better plan as long as we stay flexible and open."
This year--even before knowing they would be ministering in a location where speaking and understanding Spanish would be critical--His plan included inviting along Pastor Miguel Rodriguez of Amite, LA. The group collaborated with La Joya Head Start and provided Bibles, books, and bookcases at a family reading fair at the Buckner Community Transformation Center in Penitas. They connected with additional families through a construction
project at a home in the nearby colonia. Church members fortified the trailer's front and back porches, while their friend Miguel fortified the occupants. The result: salvation to that household--and to the neighbors next door and across the street, as well.
"Truly, it was God!" Sharon exclaimed. We had absolutely no doubt that day that God had done what only He could do. Every single one of us knew that."
At Literacy Connexus this year we saw God do what only He could do on a large scale. Books for the Border expanded into Books for the Border and Beyond, with churches throughout Texas blessing families in need right in their own neighborhoods. They hosted family reading fairs in fellowship halls, apartment complexes, trailer courts, and community centers. Church and school partnerships emerged as yet another means of impacting communities in a big way.
We extended our teaching ministry to children. Books for the Border and Beyond encourages and equips parents to read to their children; over the summer we modified that message as missionaries to RA and GA camps, and to kids involved in a bookshelf-building project led by the Texas WMU at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans. We helped children understand the need for Bibles, books, and bookcases in homes that have none and to see themselves as literacy ambassadors. We encouraged them to become better readers themselves.
In 2012 we sharpened our focus on the hundreds of ESL programs across the state under coordinator Robin Feistel, and on the thousands of teachers involved in those programs. We created an online forum as a place to share ideas, ask questions, and collaborate with one another. Through surveys and direct questioning we added to our data base of information--information we plan to share with you soon that tells the story of God at work through this exciting and effective ministry.
As you celebrate the season of good tidings this year, we encourage you to give special consideration to the stranger among us--the international, immigrant, and refugee who struggles with language and survival every day. We also ask that you pray for the half million people living in colonias along the Texas border with Mexico.
Join us as we advocate for peace in the name of the Prince of Peace.