• I met a man

    The entire team – we were split into 2 groups. Half of us went to the women’s shelter, and the other half went to the comedor (dining room). This picture was taken after meeting R – I was wearing my sunglasses because I had just cried a lot and had very puffy eyes.

    Lord, I pray that I am able to tell this story correctly and that I will always remember the emotions I felt, and the details currently ingrained in my mind, and that these words are glorifying to you. Amen.

    Last week I met a man, and this man changed my life.

    I was in Mexico last Saturday, near the U.S. border of Nogales, AZ. It was a warm day, about 96 degrees with little wind. My team was warned about the signs of dehydration; in the desert, you don’t realize how quickly you’re losing water until it’s too late. We were brought to a men and women’s shelter, which offers a place of refuge. Many of the people there were caught by border patrol and deported. The shelter was located in an eight-story apartment building complex. We climbed about four floors to reach a small room. The room was the length of about two queen sized beds pushed together and the width of maybe 10-12 feet. We sat and gathered twelve people in a circle and introduced ourselves:

    “Hola. Soy Lexi, y tengo 22 años. Hablo un poquito Español. Soy de Virginia, pero vivo en El Paso, Texas para mi trabajo.”

    “Hi. I’m Lexi and I’m 22 years old. I speak a little Spanish. I am from Virginia, but I live in El Paso, Texas for my job.”

    My team continued to introduce themselves while I observed the demeanor of a man who sat directly across from me. He was hunched over and his head hung low, but he seemed to pay attention to everyone. His eyes never broke contact with the person who was talking. He wore a red polo shirt that looked like it had never been ironed, light-washed jeans, and dark brown tennis shoes. His hair was disheveled, curls going this way and that, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few weeks. I noticed that he did not have a left arm; the empty red polo sleeve jostled unnaturally as he leaned over and rested his right elbow on his thigh. He had the prettiest blue-green eyes I ever saw, but there was something even more striking about him. His eyes, although pretty, seemed to be carrying the weight of the world. His eyes were physically open but were glazed over with a look of despair. It was apparent that this man suffered a grief that was incomparable to anything I had ever been through.

    At the end of the introductions, someone from my team finally stated, “We are here to learn more about you, your lives, and stories.”

    In Christ,

    Lexi Moles

    To follow Lexi's journey in El Paso from beginning to present, visit her blog series "Life in El Paso, Texas" here

  • Worship at the Border

    [Photo courtesy of Dan Dalstra Photography]

    Standing at the fence, staring at those I care about but not able to get to them was a powerful, jarring experience. No matter what I did there was a rusty fence, maybe 20 feet tall in my way. I could see them, but could not make direct eye contact. I could hear them, but couldn’t get close enough to give them a hug.

    One Friday morning, a group of Christian community development practitioners from the Border/Southwest region of the United States gathered at the border fence to worship. We stood, huddled together on either side of the tall, metal fence that outlines some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. We lifted up our voices and sang to the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love. As we prayed and sang praises, tears streamed down my face. To many, the wall is a source of pain and suffering, division and separation. To sing to united as people of God on both sides of the fence has an overcoming and restorative power. After we finished praying and singing, we formed a large circle, hands linked together, united though divided by the physical boundary of the fence. Together we all prayed the Lord’s prayer out loud.

    “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”.

    In Christ,

    Emily Lopynski

    To follow Emily's journey in El Paso from beginning to present, visit her blog series "On the Border" here

  • God Meeting Us Where We Are, 2000 Miles from Home

    Me and one of the high-schoolers I mentor

    As a Fellow, we are called to serve in different parts of America. As a college graduate, we are given the option to do something according to our major or something we’ve always been passionate about. For me, that option was the Border Fellows program in El Paso, Texas. I made the move from Petersburg, Virginia in August 2016 to come to El Paso. Making such a big move (2,000 miles to be exact) you never know what adventure or challenge will come your way. Despite the challenges of being away from a familiar place, I can say for myself and the three other Border Fellows that we have been blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime, working as missionaries on the Border of El Paso and Mexico during a crucial time in history. We’ve completed over half of our year here in El Paso, and have been grateful for the love shown to us from the Ciudad Nueva and St. Clement’s family. Growing up in church and being a part of Campus Crusade for Christ in undergrad, I have known ministry for a long time, though I am not sure if I have ever met such servants, prayer warriors, and inspirational people as the ones in this community. I don’t believe any of us expected the amount of love we get just walking into work every morning or walking into St. Clement’s Church. I have been able to be a part of “God’s Eternal Praise Band” with Pastor Rick Million and the Youngish Adult Bible Study. These two groups have given me ways to be a part of and serve in the church, which I thought would be difficult since this is such a short term fellowship. The adventures continuously unfold whether it be teaching high-schoolers how to apply for a job, meeting families in the community, or walking over to Ciudad Juarez on the weekend for dinner! 

    In Christ,

    Keisha Branch

    2016-2017 Border Fellow 

    Another adventure at the ruins in Teotihuacan near Mexico City

  • God's Guiding Hand

    Recently I was privileged to help coordinate a Saturday worth of Rock Climbing and Rappelling for the kids at Ciudad Nueva.  This was not only a wonderful opportunity to get our kids out in the sun where God’s handiwork is clearly visible everywhere you turn, but it was also a great opportunity for me to take on more leadership responsibilities.  To fully understand why this was all so impactful for me, I’m gonna need to backtrack a bit.

    This most recent summer I was a summer intern for an organization in Jinotega, Nicaragua.  Several years ago, God made it clear to me that he had created me for International Mission Work.  I’ve been blessed with an abundance of opportunities to share the Good News with God’s children all over the world, including here in America.  I was given the opportunity to move to Nicaragua after my internship to help lead/begin a ministry focused on youth at risk.  For reasons unbeknownst to me at the time, God wanted me to join the Border Fellows Program here in El Paso, Tx.  I was incredibly confused at the time, but I’ve learned through the years not to ignore the pulling of the Spirit.  So I jumped on a plane, grabbed some belongings, and headed down to Texas.  Now I’d love to share with you some of the reasons that I believe God led me here.

    (A few of the Ciudad Nueva kids and Border Fellows)

    My first couple of weeks here was fairly chaotic.  I’ve always been great with kids in short spurts, but never before had I been challenged with a continual walk alongside them before.  I was asked to work with the middle schoolers as they were in need of more male leadership.  Not to say that the leadership was doing a poor job and I needed to step in and take over.  Far from it, I’m learning more and more just how wonderful a staff Ciudad Nueva in general has.  One of the greatest aspects of the Border Fellow program in general to me is how they have such a fantastic support system.  If I had been trying to do this on my own, I would have burned out months ago.  Instead, I have faced countless challenges of how to really show love to these kids and come out stronger.  From our incredibly challenging and insightful classes on Fridays, to having a supportive host family, to a wonderfully caring coordinator Megan Feuille, and just a family like atmosphere with Ciudad Nueva staff, I’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow from both mistakes and successes.  I wish I could share more details of just how that is the case, but I’m going to jump back ahead to my present circumstances.

    At the beginning of my time here, I was fairly wide eyed and unsure of how to move forward in God’s calling me here.  After the weekend with Ascend Outdoor Adventure (the organization based out of Austin, Tx that gave our kids the wonderful experience to rock climb and rappel), I’m walking away with a renewed confidence in God’s work through my life.  I saw kids not only trusting the rope and other equipment needed to ensure their safety, but they trusted me to help guide them up the rock even though they continually told me just how scared they were.  This is the essence of Border Fellows to me.  This is a program that shows you how to become so in tune with God that Jesus spills out of your own life and into the life of the children here.  This is not something that can be used just in El Paso, Tx.  I have seen sin and poverty take hold of people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the whole world.  It comes in different forms, but Border Fellows teaches the basic foundations of how to better become ministers of reconciliation as we are called to be in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.  I thank God for leading me to such a wonderful program.  The best part is that I’m barely halfway through the program.  I can’t wait to see what else God has in mind for the downtown El Paso area.  God Bless!

    (Me and Gustavo, one of the high schoolers at Ciudad Nueva)

    Written by Caleb Rine, 2014-2015 Border Fellow

  • Toast to Ten Years

    On Friday, we had our big "Toast to Ten Years" fundraiser for Ciudad Nueva. It was a huge success! Our fundraiser was the first non-baseball event to take place at El Paso's brand new baseball stadium, Southwest University Park. The venue provided a light-hearted atmosphere for our 340+ guests to learn about Ciudad Nueva's work and mission.

    Fifteen of our students helped form the welcome team for this event, and ushered guests in for the fun and festivities.

    We hosted a Celebrity Home Run Derby in which four local TV sports anchors and the Superintendent of the El Paso Independent School District made their best attempts at hitting a home run. A few of our students got the chance to go on the baseball field to help fetch the baseballs. One of our eighth graders had this to say about her experience:

    "It was really fun and entertaining! I got to be on the field during the Celebrity Home Run Derby and I chased the baseballs. I even got to keep one!"- Cristina

    After the derby, we enjoyed an open-air dinner on the main concourse of the stadium while overlooking the field and the city.  Along the concourse, we showcased some of our students' artwork.  After dinner, we showed our guests this video to help them understand what we do. The video profiles two inspiring young adults who are currently involved in our programs. I encourage you to take a look!

    We concluded the evening with "behind-the-scenes" tours of the ballpark. We saw where the sports announcers and A/V team sit, visited the fancy West Star Bank Club, and peeked into the basement and dugout where the players practice batting.

    Overall, we had a wonderful time and raised a solid amount of support for our ministry. Thank you to everyone who helped put this event together, and to everyone who gave of their time and money to attend.

    Posted by Tessa