In 1988, while attending Spanish language school in McAllen, Texas, we, Roland and Carolyn Ashby, saw families living under plastic bags and cardboard boxes just over the border in Reynosa, Mexico. These families lived in and around a garbage dump. The community living near the “dump” was not only poor but many people that lived there were physically and emotionally challenged. Some were addicted to alcohol and drugs, others prostituted their bodies to provide food for their children and practically all rummaged through the garbage for food, clothes or anything of value to use or sell. The scene was difficult to process.
We began to pray and asked God what could be done. We felt that God answered immediately and said, “You can do SOMETHING”! What was the SOMETHING we could do?
I am a 15-year veteran of the insurance industry. Carolyn is a registered nurse. Sharing the desperate conditions we had seen with pastors and others God began to touch the hearts of those who listened. Pastors encouraged their flock to go as a team and reach out in practical ways to touch these people. A simple house plan to provide dry shelter was drawn. This house can be built in three days. This was the SOMETHING we felt we could begin to do. Strategic Alliance is a network of teams and individuals helping hurting people in practical ways.
Today people from all walks of life and all ages come. Some come as families. Moms and Dads bring their kids. American kids play with the Mexican kids while teams paint and build the homes. More important than the homes is the love of Jesus that is shared both ways…..Americans embrace the Mexicans and the Mexicans love us back.
The comment heard most from our American teams is that they can’t believe how happy and content the Mexicans are despite the poverty in which they live. God blesses both ways!
Since the beginning over 2500 homes have been built. Tons of food and clothes have been given away. Teams of doctors and nurses have treated the sick. Hairdressers have cut hair. Everyone brings their God given gift and shares it in a practical and creative way. Best of all, God’s Kingdom is expanded as people give their life to Christ!
In 2010 the Rio Grande River flooded and 650 homes had 1 to 12 feet of water in them for 2 months! Strategic Alliance supplied materials and organized American teams to teach the Mexicans how to clean and repair their homes after the water receded.
During the flood the people lived on a narrow levee. Food, water and personal supplies were provided by Strategic Alliance. We asked what their greatest need was and they all agreed that without money to provide for school fees, test fees, backpacks, school supplies, new uniforms and new shoes their children would not be able to attend school. If they missed a year most likely they would not return. An education is one way they can escape the challenge of living in the dump.
A pastor from San Antonio partnered with Strategic Alliance to sponsor 405 children to attend school. Today, other churches and individuals have joined us to sponsor students. That “SOMETHING" is now called ¡Escuela Viva! (School Alive!) Today, hundreds of children are sponsored! God is faithful!
We continue to take teams to Reynosa. Much is being reported about the war among the cartels fighting for turf leading into the United States. The safety of our teams is of utmost importance. Our hope is that you pray about joining us as we reach out in compassion to the “least of these”. More importantly, please pray for the people of Mexico. You can do SOMETHING!