Vida Nueva is our CRF work in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
When Jair Castillo went to the dump there 35 years ago, he realized that it wasn’t just a place for trash — it was also where families got their groceries. Families went through the Citadel dump to find food and anything else useful in order to survive. It was where children played instead of going to school. And diseases were killing the kids.
Children were dying not only from diseases but also trying to escape the poverty of this Mexican border town. One day a child whom Jair had told about Christ drowned in the river trying to get to the U.S. Jair couldn’t stand to see the tragedy any longer. So he planted a church, started a children’s home and created a school.
CRF sponsors help the kids at Jair’s school learn God’s love through sponsorship. There are currently 250 children enrolled in the Christian school there. The church baptized 89 people last year. Jair and his wife, Norma, along with our CRF director, Lorena Cardenas, have created an oasis for children in the midst of the problems of this border town.
Over the years Piedras Negras has not only become one of our finest works but also one of our finest facilities. Because of its proximity to the U.S., it was a perfect place for mission trips. So they built dorms for big groups to come. Facilities were even built where doctors and dentists could come and work.
It seemed to have everything. The short-term mission groups would make the facility better with each trip and support more and more children.
But now no one comes.
With the problems in border towns, mission teams have decided to go elsewhere. There are too many stories of violence on the news. Now this facility isn’t being used as before. And now it is harder to get help for the children. Is it safe? Who knows? It depends who you ask. Jair has seen executions by the gangs. There has been gunfire. But now he says things have improved.
When people don’t go, they forget that it is still a good ministry being led by a great staff. When people don’t go, they forget that there are still a lot of children there with great needs. We’re hoping people will get to go again. We’re hoping that people will help again. There’s simply no place quite like it where people have been saved even in the midst of poverty and violence.