July 31, 2019

Church Regional Conference Leaders Visit the U.S.-Mexico Border

Debbie Michel, Lake Union Herald, and Adventist Review

The original version of this story was posted on the Lake Union Herald news site.

On July 24 and 25, 2019, a group of administrators and pastors visited a center in Ciudad Juárez, México, where migrants refused entry into the United States are housed, pending asylum interviews at the border.

Northeastern Conference president Daniel Honore later reported in a Facebook post, “The conditions are heartbreaking. Poor housing and sanitary conditions, without medical care.” He continued, “[Officers] herd two or three families [into] in two-bedroom cabins with no beds, only thin mattresses on the floor. These families cook their meals outside on improvised grills of stone and bricks. We saw children with skin and ear infections but no medication.”

Honore said that according to what he saw, the migrants they visited are primarily from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

“We met an Adventist family whose dad was an ordained deacon in El Salvador. They told us about giving up everything and fleeing when gangs threatened to kidnap their daughter from her Seventh-day Adventist school unless they made regular ‘protection’ money payments,” Honore wrote.

In addition to Honore, Southwest Region Conference president Calvin Watkins and 13 Southwest Seventh-day Adventist pastors delivered six carloads of hygiene and grooming supplies, for which the migrants expressed great appreciation.

The Northeastern Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is based in Jamaica, New York, and the Southwest Region Conference’s headquarters are in Dallas, Texas. The nine regional conferences in the United States are the historically black church administrative units. Each one is part of a respective union conference region within the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Hygiene and grooming supplies delivered to the migrants were funded by the nine regional conferences, with each one contributing US$1,000. Other regional conference presidents have plans to get actively involved in a future trip, they reported. Among them is R. Clifford Jones, president of the Lake Region Conference, based in Mokena, Illinois.

“We’ve got to separate politics from people, especially the vulnerable and feeble,” Jones said. “We’ve got to see people the way God does, especially the stranger and alien. We’ve got to work at restoring families, especially those fleeing inhumane conditions and persecution.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Lake Union Herald news site.