Chaplains Share Love of Christ Along U.S.-Mexico Border

By Todd Sumlin   •   August 10, 2019

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is offering respite for immigrant families alongside Samaritan's Purse at centers in Del Rio and Laredo, Texas.
“They have nothing,” Billy Graham chaplain Barb Grabowski said, explaining these immigrant families travel anywhere from 10 days to a month to get to this point. Many come covered in sweat and dirt, having not showered in over 30 days, and desperate for rest.
At the centers, thousands of exhausted migrants receive food, showers, necessities and/or shelter. Although most are from different countries, crisis-trained chaplain Barb shares they have something in common: "They’ve all had struggles in their journey." Read more about ministry at the border.
Barb and Leo pray constantly for the migrants, and often share encouragement from Scriptures like Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."
Still on their way to their final destination, the majority of immigrant families only stay at the center for three hours—just enough time to give them a short break and meet their needs.
Barb's husband, Leo, is another crisis-trained chaplain who's part of the Rapid Response Team's 1,500-plus volunteers. Aiming to give hope in hopeless situations, Leo comforts a migrant.
The chaplains offer a listening ear that usually leads to heartbreaking stories. But God has given each person hope through His Son, Jesus Christ. Chaplains share that message of peace when given the opportunity. Explain the hope of Christ to someone in Spanish by using this Gospel-centered website.
Part of showing the compassion of God is playing with His little children. "They're stressed when get they get here," Barb explained. But, "By the time they leave, they're really happy and like different people. It's been wonderful to see such transformation in such a short time."
The chaplains have witnessed nearly 100 people's hearts transform in the course of a few weeks at the centers. Clinging to the Good News of Jesus Christ, the migrants are able to move forward with a new sense of joy.
"They are more desperate than any other deployment I’ve ever seen," said Barb, who's been on more than 30 deployments in the past nine years.
One man entered the center and told the chaplains how he had feared he'd lose his life on the journey. While crossing the Rio Grande and carrying his two children—both strapped in life jackets—his feet got caught in weeds, pulling him underwater. He was terrified to let go of his kids, but had to do so to avoid drowning. In that moment, he prayed, "God, if you get my kids out of here, I will serve you." At the center, he chose to receive Christ alongside the chaplains.
After many stressful days and weeks, these migrants have crossed the border to "safety," but their journey is far from over. Still, the chaplains offer the love and compassion of Christ to those who have faced many trials. "I don’t know what’s harder … seeing them come or go," Barb said.