By Ryan and Amanda Stead
This post was originally published in the 2016 March issue of the GBIM Capsule.
You don’t have to drive very far into Juárez, Mexico to see that life there is hard. It is hard to stay warm in the winter and it is almost impossible to cool off in the summer. The average wage is $50 and $75 US dollars per week, if you can get a factory job. Most people have no hot water and they continue to have issues with the city water being potable. Yes, life in Juárez is hard, but loving the people of Juárez is one of the easiest things our family has ever had the pleasure of doing.
When you’re in Juárez the people hug and kiss you, shake your hand and say “Díos le bendiga!” (God bless you!) They call you “hermano” (brother) and “amado” (loved one) and you wish with all of your heart that you could change lives. We bring the Gospel message which provides hope, joy, and comfort. Without that hope, this job would be heartbreaking and would make us feel helpless. And, we pray for them. You pray for mercy in the scorching heat in the summer and divine warmth in the freezing winters knowing that in the cinderblock homes, there is no heat for the most part. You pray for rain, although there are few crops to benefit. The land is desert and all that that entails, rattlesnakes, scorpions and black widows included.
So — what do we do? The one thing that is apparent is that these people need opportunities. They need a way to improve their lives to help them feed their families and break generations of poverty. Shortly after arriving, the people found out that we home school. They immediately began asking us to teach them English. In Juárez English means better jobs, and better jobs mean better pay.
Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is a great avenue for developing relationships and meeting obvious needs. More importantly it spreads the Gospel to people who wouldn’t be caught in a church on their worst day, but will show up for English classes.
We are currently teaching children’s classes. Studies show that attaining a second language is easiest before the age of 13, so we are excited to take these classes to young people. We hope to build a small library of simple readers in English to help build vocabulary. We currently have materials to begin study in the book of Matthew. We’d love to have the ability to give each one of our students a Bible with both English and Spanish. Having bilingual Bibles would contribute substantially toward learning the vocabulary. We currently have no budget for any of the materials we use and are severely limited in what we can do. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!
The possibilities are endless in this city of over a million people, most of whom would give just about anything for an opportunity to better their lives. We hope to provide friendships and the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior to these beautiful people. Please consider coming down on a team to help here, supporting the ministry or our family personally so that we can continue doing this work. Thank you for sending us, for supporting us, and for anything you may be willing to do or invest to help the beautiful people of Juárez.