“Yes, Lord. I will help where I can and impact the lives that are crossing the border.”
This was Kelly Knotts’ response when the Lord called him to be an immigrant care missionary at the El Paso Migrant Center, which was established in August 2021 by the El Paso Baptist Association. Knotts is one of 15 River Ministry missionaries serving along the Texas/Mexico border.
Knotts had encountered many migrants during his years working in churches, orphanages, prisons, food banks and other centers of ministry along the Texas and Mexico border. Now, the Lord was calling him to minister directly to migrants at the newly-established center.
Providing physically and spiritually for migrants
The El Paso Migrant Center works to receive and register migrants.
“When they arrive at our facility, we provide them with clothes, shoes, showers, hygiene kits and three meals a day,” said Knotts. “We also help them get to wherever it is they need to go — we call this their final destination. Many migrants need transportation to a bus stop or airport, or just internet connection to figure out how they can get where they need to go. We provide all of this.”
But the center does more than provide these basic physical necessities and assistance. Every migrant who comes through its doors also hears the gospel and is introduced to the Word of God.
“One time we received a group of Turkish men,” Knotts recalled. “Since I don’t speak Turkish, I was wondering how I could present the gospel to them. But God provided … one of the men was fluent in English, and he interpreted the gospel in his native language to the other men. At first, I was skeptical since I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I was still faithful to the Lord’s call to present the gospel to everyone coming in. The result was wonderful because every one of them professed Christ as Lord and Savior. They even asked for Bibles … those who could read English.”
Stories of impact like this one are common at the center. Knotts said that since the El Paso Migrant Center was established just a little over a year ago, they have seen over 2,000 professions of faith.
“The Migrant Center is a bridge to help others come to Christ and eternal life,” said Knotts. “Even though they’re entering the border, they’re also entering the Kingdom of God through this ministry.”
Supporting the work of missionaries
Knotts shared his belief that the call to minister to migrants is for everyone.
“God is inviting everyone to join in this work,” he said. “The wave of migrants coming into our country really is a phenomenon … The nations are coming to us. You don’t have to go abroad to share the gospel.”
Knotts said there are several ways that Texas Baptists churches can support the ministry happening on the Texas and Mexico border, the greatest of which is providing funds.
“We will only be in operation as long as there is funding. Once funds run out, ministry is stopped to a halt,” he said. “Giving from churches helps us not only with bills but also restocking needed goods. We are constantly in need of food, clothes, deodorant, other hygiene items, underwear, socks, blankets, sheets and many other basic necessities. We welcome donations of these items.”
In addition to giving, churches can also send volunteers to support the work of missionaries like Knotts on the border.
Most importantly, churches can pray.
“To minister is costly, but sharing the gospel is free. God is impacting and changing lives through this ministry, and we need prayer too,” said Knotts. “Everyone is more than welcome to be part of it. It’s a big blessing.”
To learn more about how your church can get involved with Texas Baptists River Ministry and Mexico Missions, visit txb.org/riverministry.