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Ministering To the Least of These

Prestonwood Ministers to Refugee Children, Families

In a world afflicted by pain and poverty, crisis and disaster, the people of Prestonwood Baptist Church are always ready to help, reaching out to those in deepest need. Some of those with the most critical need included orphans and children separated from their families during the immigration crisis that culminated during the summer.

Prestonwood en Español members packed 1,500 boxes in December with essentials for refugees in the Rio Grande Valley.

This year, Prestonwood will spend $64,000 on immigration relief for people from the Rio Grande Valley to El Paso to Virginia. The funds include a $50,000 donation to the church from Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump.

Although the donation garnered much national attention, even before Ms. Trump decided to generously support our work, Executive Pastor Mike Buster said Prestonwood had already determined to respond to the immigration crisis.

“It’s part of our DNA as a church, and we consider it a calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to those in need,” he said. “We will continue to assist immigrants—whether they’re along the border or in our community.”

On June 19, Pastor Jack Graham tweeted: “We at Prestonwood are currently working to provide solutions to care for children during this terrible immigration crisis. Our (Prestonwood en Español) ministry led by Gilberto Corredera is stepping up to the challenge to express the love of Jesus. We are broken-hearted and determined to act.”

Pastor Jack Graham  served lunch and delivered supplies for immigrant children at Youth for Tomorrow in Bristow, July. Prestonwood donated $15,000 to provide more than 200 book packs and duffle bags filled with essentials and fun items.

Ms. Trump saw the tweet and wanted to provide funds to assist Prestonwood in helping refugees.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Ivanka Trump a number of times over the last year, and I’ve been struck by her kindness and concern for those in need,” Pastor Graham said at the time. “So, it wasn’t that surprising to know she would want to help these families. But I certainly never expected to hear from her after a simple tweet.”

Pastor Graham’s tweet and Ms. Trump’s donation occurred days before President Trump signed an executive order directing border security to keep families together during immigration processing.

While investigating where the greatest needs were, as many organizations were already helping at the border, Prestonwood began helping refugees in other regions.

In July, Prestonwood donated $15,000 for the purchase of backpacks, toiletries, school supplies and clothing to provide to more than 200 children (who entered the country unaccompanied) at the Youth for Tomorrow residential campus in Bristow, Va. The organization was founded by Hall of Fame football coach Joe Gibbs, a devout Christian.

Pastor Jack Graham joined other Christian leaders in serving lunch to immigrant children at Youth for Tomorrow in Bristow, Va., in July.

Pastor Graham joined other evangelical leaders at the facility in July in serving lunch for the children and distributing backpacks and other items.

“You see the smiles on the kids’ faces and already their lives are turning around; it is clear,” Pastor told The Christian Post.

Also in July, Children’s Ministry leaders, adult volunteers and students on the Preteen Mission Trip served immigrants near El Paso.

Our Prestonwood KIDZ and families hosted three Vacation Bible Schools in partnership with First Baptist Church, El Paso.

In July, Children’s Ministry leaders, adult volunteers and students on the Preteen Mission Trip served immigrants in El Paso.

“We served in food pantries and food closets that were preparing for a large influx of refugees,” said Minister of Children Diana Pendley.

Prestonwood earmarked another $5,000 for this ministry, including $3,000 for Bibles and various resources to help refugee children. The Preteen team also hosted a reconnection dinner and party for families when migrant children were released back to their parents.

Later in the summer, Minister of Missions Mike Beeson and Prestonwood en Español Pastor Gilberto Corredera made several trips to the Rio Grande Valley to connect with outreach ministries. In all, Prestonwood donated $34,000 to provide clothing and other critical need items to some 2,500 immigrants in the Valley.

Prestonwood is working with a church in the Valley that ministers to a shelter housing 1,500 boys, ages 12 to 17 years, Gilberto said.

“So we’re providing resources through this program,” he said. “We’re providing blankets, hoodies and clothes.”

Prestonwood is also providing resources for another shelter in the Rio Grande Valley.

“It holds people that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) releases,” Gilberto said. “We provided some food, clothing, shampoo and other items, for people waiting in these places.”

Prestonwood en Español Pastor Gilberto Corredera (fifth from left) and his wife, Yani (third from left), packed food and other items for refugees at a non-profit organization in Brownsville.

Another $10,000 was recently allocated to distribute to ministries in the Valley this Christmas.

“We’re packing again for another trip to the Valley,” Gilberto said, “loading the Prestonwood Cares truck with 20 pallets of supplies to make this Christmas brighter.”

Mike Beeson said partners who have been working with the church identified some critical needs for both minors and adults, particularly unaccompanied minors.

“A lot of the needs immediately made sense,” Mike said. “They were winter items, mostly, so when you read the list and thought about the thousands of people who have been disrupted and left their homes and found themselves on the border, you knew what they needed. These guys don’t have anything. They need hoodies, gloves, beanie caps.”

But people responded quickly with all sorts of donations, he said.

“There were lots of donations of $10 here and $20 there from all sorts of people,” he said, “and we were able to jump into action. The bigger issue is what happens after the holidays, in January, February, March and April. We forget that the needs don’t stop on the 31st of December.”

Pastor Graham envisions Prestonwood ministering to the least of these as long as the need continues.

“I’m so proud to serve at a church known for its love and care for Dallas, for Texas, for the United States and for the world. All of this, of course, begins with our love for Jesus Christ.”

Published: Dec. 13, 2018
Author: Michael Young