Evangelicals Can Help at the Border. They Just Can’t Do It Alone.

To make an impact among migrants crossing through Texas, churches rely on government advocacy and ecumenical partners.

When The New York Times reported on toddlers without diapers and children without toothbrushes at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, Christians joined the rest of the country in dismay.

They shared the stories chronicling poor conditions and promoted campaigns to donate money and send supplies, desperate to do something to help. But the facilities at the center of the reports have turned away donations.

This saga has brought new attention to the crises at the border, particularly for children of asylum seekers, and the role of US churches in offering a compassionate response. Where are evangelicals already at work among the latest wave of migrants? What more can be done?

Leaders like San Antonio pastor Max Lucado have urged Christians to pray and act. “This is a mess. A humanitarian, heartbreaking mess. As we are wondering what can be done, let’s do what we are called to do,” he wrote in a lament for CT. “Let’s pray. Let’s lament. Let’s groan.” (You can read a collection of six Christian leaders’ prayers for the border here.)

Grief over the conditions at the border has compelled many evangelical Christians to act, but they prefer to work directly with evangelical mercy ministries.

However, in these moments when the law stands between Christians and acts of mercy—like not being able to drop off donations at a detention center—they can be uncomfortable with idea of supporting government aid or state humanitarian efforts, said Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission.

“Even for Christians who tend to be leery of government intervention,” Freeman said, to get the diapers and wipes …

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