Love the Stranger

Once cleared by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the adult migrants the ministry serves arrive at a nearby bus station where they can catch a ride to their destination city. It is there that Navarro and his church greet the weary travelers.

Anytime Rev. Carlos Navarro gets a call that a group of legal migrants is being released from the nearby immigration detention center, he puts Matthew 25:35–40 into action by welcoming the strangers.

He and his congregation, Iglasia Bautista West Brownsville (West Brownsville Baptist Church) in West Brownsville, Texas, have run the Golan Ministries (Ministerio Golan) since 2019. The church also serves the local homeless population, hospital patients, nursing home residents, prisoners and the food insecure.

“The ministry is named in honor of the Golan Heights in Israel,” Navarro says. “It was a place of refuge for people (Deut. 4:41–43). And it’s appropriate because of what is happening with the migrants.”

Once cleared by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the adult migrants the ministry serves arrive at a nearby bus station where they can catch a ride to their destination city. It is there that Navarro and his church greet the weary travelers. 

Most of the 17,500-plus migrants the ministry has served come from Latin America, but it has helped people from countries across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe as well. They’ve celebrated more than 6,000 decisions for Christ, given out more than 7,500 Bibles and provided more than 31,000 meals.

“These people are already here, and somebody has to give them a chance,” Navarro says. “

The migrants, he says, are grateful. “Imagine me saying ‘Welcome’ not only in Spanish, but with their accent.”

Now a U.S. citizen, Navarro entered the country illegally as a minor from Guatemala many decades ago, so he understands what current migrants are experiencing.

“All of us [in the church] came to this country as migrants,” he says. “We know the context. We understand the journey that every single migrant has to go through. I speak out of my own personal conviction, and because it’s a mandate. We have to care for the stranger.”

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