Texas Baptists partner with Send Relief to launch ministry center in Laredo

By Texas Baptist Communications

A new ministry center will open in Laredo, Texas, as part of a partnership between Texas Baptists River Ministry and Send Relief. The center will serve Laredo and the wider Rio Grande Valley area by connecting churches to ministry opportunities on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Send Relief is grateful to be partnering in Laredo with the Texas Baptist River Ministry,” said Josh Benton, vice president of North American ministry at Send Relief. “Our ministry centers serve in communities all over North America by meeting physical and spiritual needs in Jesus’ name, while also offering compassion ministry training for churches and volunteer mission teams. Because of its proximity to the border, the Laredo ministry center is in a prime location to mobilize churches to serve vulnerable families there.”

Medical workers serving with the Texas Baptists River Ministry pray with a newly arrived resident of Laredo, Texas.

Send Relief, a collaborative compassion ministry of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB), has opened 19 other ministry centers across North America and Puerto Rico, each designed to meet the specific needs in their local area while training churches to replicate the ministry in their own communities. This will be Send Relief’s first center to open in Texas.

The Texas Baptists River Ministry has been working in the Rio Grande Valley for 55 years, connecting churches in Texas to projects along the Texas-Mexico border and supporting 15 missionaries who work in cities on both sides of the border.

Laredo is home to one of the oldest border crossings in America’s history and serves as the United States’ largest land-based entry point. In addition to its over 260,000 residents, the city sees millions of vehicles crossing the Texas-Mexico border each year. Because of this, Laredo is a unique melting pot of a city that blends the cultures of the U.S. and Mexico.

Laredo, Texas serves as one of the oldest border crossings in America’s history and the United States’ largest land-based entry point on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Osvaldo Lerma, a former Texas Baptists River Ministry missionary, will lead operations as Send Relief’s Laredo ministry center director. Lerma has deep ministry roots in the area and is excited to see how God will use the center to further His work. He emphasized building connections with the local churches and equipping the churches to carry out compassion ministry in their communities.

“We are here to strengthen local churches, encourage local pastors and provide support to the communities in need,” Lerma said. “When we put all of that together, we will be helping churches advance the Great Commission.”

Missionaries with the Texas Baptists River Ministry distribute hygiene kits to children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Laredo.

Josue Valerio, director of the Texas Baptists Center for Missional Engagement, believes River Ministry’s knowledge and connections in the Valley coupled with Send Relief’s national network and resources will be a powerful tool to reach even more people in the area.

“The goal of this center is to serve families of all shapes and sizes in the Rio Grande Valley. We want to engage the local churches in impactful ministry for their community,” Valerio said. “We are so excited to be working with [Send Relief] on this project. They are bringing a lot of knowledge and expertise.”

Send Relief will soon offer mission trip opportunities for churches across the country to serve in Laredo. You can find more information about Send Relief mission trips here.

Lerma asked for prayer for the ministry center as it launches.

“Pray that this center will have a big impact and that many lives will be touched,” he said.

For more information about the ministry center, click here.

Send Relief’s communications team contributed to this report.

Published September 7, 2022

Texas Baptist Communications

The Texas Baptists Communications Department is responsible for telling the story of what God is doing through the churches, ministry partners, and ministry staff of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.