Baptist pastor shares message of hope with surge of young immigrantscomment (0)
August 7, 2014
Since Palm Sunday Dan Trevino has preached to more than 10,000 immigrant young people from Central America, delivering a message of hope in Christ.
Trevino, associate pastor of Baptist Temple, San Antonio, Texas, leads multiple worship services each week for children, ages 11 to 17, detained at the Mexican border and housed at nearby Lackland Air Force Base. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter is operated by Baptist Child & Family Services (BCFS).
He recognizes many Americans view the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America as “a big political thing.” He sees the opportunity to share the gospel with the young people as “a divine appointment.”
Trevino joined the staff at Baptist Temple earlier in 2014 after leaving the pastorate of Harlandale Baptist Church, San Antonio.
“Honestly I was getting to the point where I was feeling ineffective in my ministry and doubting myself in terms of my ability as a preacher,” Trevino said.
Two weeks after he arrived at Baptist Temple, BCFS President Kevin Dinnin called him. Dinnin asked Trevino, who served 17 years with BCFS in a variety of roles, to conduct worship services at five camps throughout Central Texas where the agency was caring for the immigrant children.
“I had been wondering if God could use me as a preacher. And now God was using me to spread His Word to all these young people,” he said.
For several weeks, Trevino traveled to the camps. Later when the summer camp season was scheduled to begin, HHS consolidated operations at Lackland.
Trevino leads four worship services every Sunday at the base — three for boys and one for girls. Total attendance varies, but most Sundays he preaches to anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 young people.
Trevino listens to the stories the young people tell him about the life they left in Central America and the journeys they endured. Many talk about parents who wanted their children to have a better life.
Stories of escape
One teenage boy described an entire year spent walking from Honduras to Texas, working along the way to earn money for food. Another boy talked about violence in his homeland.
“He saw other kids executed right in front of him. He started running and didn’t turn back,” Trevino said.
Based on their familiarity with the Bible, Trevino suspects many of the youth came from evangelical homes where parents taught them the importance of strong faith.
“What they need is a personal walk with Jesus. Many of them already know about God, but we want to build on the basics of what they know.”
Each week, Trevino extends an invitation to his listeners to make a faith commitment to Jesus. So far more than 2,500 people have raised their hands, indicating they made professions of faith in Christ — including some staff.
Trevino acknowledges some see the expressions of faith as comparable to “jailhouse religion,” but he rejects that idea. Participants attend the worship services voluntarily, and many choose to join in weekday Bible studies.
Trevino takes care not to communicate a message “everything is going to be great” if they become Christians, but he assures them God will accompany them whatever their future holds.
His sermons include a variety of biblical stories of faith and hope. But at every worship service, he leads the children in reading together Joshua 1:9 in Spanish: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Trevino said, “Many may end up going back home. So, I tell them, ‘Bring revival to Honduras or El Salvador or Guatemala. ... God has a plan for your life.’”
For decades, Trevino dreamed about preaching in Central America, but he never traveled any farther south than Mexican border cities along the Rio Grande.
“It just never happened. It never panned out,” he said. “But God has given me the desires of my heart. I don’t have to go to Central America. It has come to me.”
How to help minister
Emergency items, shoes, Bibles needed
- The Baptist General Convention of Texas has established a “For the Children” fund to purchase Spanish Bibles and other supplies for immigrant children in shelters. Dan Trevino, associate pastor of Baptist Temple, San Antonio, Texas, makes available the Bibles to children housed at Lackland Air Force Base, where he leads four worship services every Sunday (see story, this page). Donations to the fund also will be used to meet needs when shelters open in Dallas County. For more information, call Marla Bearden with Texas Baptists’ Disaster Recovery at 214-537-7358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association needs paperback Spanish New Testaments for a triage and transition shelter for unaccompanied minors in the Weslaco, Texas, area. Pastors will lead worship services and provide the New Testaments to children. For more information, call Robert Cepeda at 956-371-8516.
- Buckner International is collecting shoes for immigrants and refugees in McAllen and Laredo in the Rio Grande Valley through its Shoes for Orphan Souls program. The greatest need is for children’s sizes 7 to 13 and youth sizes 1 to 3, particularly for children ages 3 to 6. Shoes need to be lace-up, Velcro-strapped or slip-on with closed toes — not flip-flops or open-toed sandals. To donate shoes, drop off or send shoes to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid, 5405 Shoe Dr., Mesquite, TX 75149. For more information, call 214-939-7179.
- Volunteer teams of registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses are needed in McAllen to work with Calvary Baptist Church, the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley and Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The groups will serve mothers with young children. For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Marla Bearden with Texas Baptists’ Disaster Recovery at 214-537-7358 or email email@example.com.
- Texas Baptists in the McAllen area are collecting new undergarments and walking shoes for women and children, backpacks, some toiletries, cleaning supplies and other items for the ministry. For more information, call Vanessa Quintanilla at 956-279-5515.
Laredo Baptists are collecting diapers, travel-size hygiene items, bottled water, walking shoes for women, new undergarments for women and children and other items. For more information, contact Maria Garcia at 956-693-1136 or Gerald Davis with Texas Baptists’ Disaster Recovery.