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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Victor Hugo Castillo: Faith, Friendship, and Solidarity on the Border

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Victor Hugo Castillo (Courtesy photo)
Victor Hugo Castillo (Courtesy photo)
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By Roberto Hugo González

In the far-reaching spectrum of journalism and humanitarian service, few stories resonate with the depth and warmth of humanity, as does the friendship between two souls dedicated to informing and making a difference in the world. My relationship with Victor Hugo Castillo, one of the finest reporters and human beings I have had the privilege to know, is one of those stories. Beyond sharing a profession, we are united by our faith in God and commitment to service.

“How are you?” I ask Castillo via WhatsApp, whose response always reflects his passion for helping: “I came to Reynosa to bring aid to a migrant shelter.” Accompanied by a group of university students from Texas A&M in Bryan, Texas, Victor carries out a mission inspired by compassion and faith. These students, part of the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM), found in him a guide for their first incursion into the world of humanitarian assistance in Mexico.

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Students from Texas A&M in Bryan, Texas, testify and hope to migrants in Reynosa, sharing personal stories and the Gospel of Christ. Under Victor Hugo Castillo’s guidance, their efforts bridge cultures and hardships, expressing a commitment to service and compassion. This moment captures the profound impact of their Spring Break mission, as they work to provide not just material aid but also spiritual support, embracing an environment of mutual understanding and solidarity amidst the challenges faced by the migrant community. Courtesy photo

Castillo excitedly shares how, the previous day, they distributed 400 hygiene kits donated by Texas Baptist Men through the 13:2 Initiative in Mission. They plan to deliver 800 kits, which include essential items such as soap, toothpaste, and more. But their work goes beyond material aid; it’s about human connection, listening, and sharing the Gospel of Christ, a moment of hope amid adversity.

Joel Bratcher, director of the BSM, and about 50 students chose to dedicate their Spring Break not to typical festivities but to serving others. Their work in the “Senda de Vida #1” shelter and repairing a Harlingen church reflects a dedication beyond duty. They are young people who exemplify the true spirit of service, choosing the path of love and solidarity over leisure. Residents of Reynosa and Avondale Baptist Church provide the materials for this project.

Victor Hugo Castillo delivers a message of hope and faith to migrants at the Senda de Vida shelter, Reynosa. His words, instilled with compassion and the promise of solidarity, echo through the hearts of those seeking refuge. Castillo symbolizes the spirit of service as a pastor and journalist, blending spiritual guidance with actionable support, uplifting the spirits of many in the face of adversity. This scene is a powerful moment of community, faith, and resilience among those on their journey to a better life. Courtesy photo

Castillo is more than a reporter. He is a pastor of The Rio Grande Bible Church in McAllen, Texas. His work representing his faith and church at the Senda de Vida shelter is proof of his faith, providing temporary relief and a lasting source of inspiration for migrants in Reynosa. His commitment demonstrates how faith can translate into concrete actions of love and discipleship.

The friendship with Castillo is a constant reminder of the power of faith and human solidarity. Through his work and that of the young volunteers, a support network is woven that offers material aid and spiritual support to those in need. In times of despair, stories like this light the way, showing that shared love and faith can transform lives and communities. This is the essence of our friendship: a bond that transcends reporting to embrace a greater mission, a commitment to humanity guided by faith in God.

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The Reality of Migrants in Reynosa, Between Hope and Challenge

Victor Hugo Castillo, amidst the adversity of Reynosa, interviews a migrant living in dire conditions on the streets, illustrating the harsh realities those seeking a new life face. This decisive moment captures the essence of his journalistic and humanitarian mission, as he and volunteers from Texas A&M and the Rio Grande Bible Church extend aid and hope to those in need. Castillo’s dedication to sharing these stories sheds light on the complex challenges migrants face, emphasizing the importance of faith, friendship, and solidarity in bringing about change. Courtesy photo

In recent years, border cities between Mexico and the United States, like Reynosa, have become critical points for thousands of migrants seeking a new life in the United States. These migrants, coming from various countries in Latin America and beyond, face a complex and challenging reality that tests their resilience and hope.

Migration to border cities has been driven by a combination of factors, including violence, political instability, and poverty. These motivations reflect a mix of desperation and the search for a better life. It has been reported that they come from approximately 150 countries, and often, their language needs to be understood. 

Reynosa, a key border city, has seen a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving, hoping to cross to the United States. Many of them also become easy victims of the cartels in México. 

In Reynosa, migrants face challenging conditions. Some live in makeshift camps or overcrowded shelters, facing a shortage of basic resources like food, water, and medical care. Additionally, violence and insecurity are constant problems, with frequent reports of kidnappings and extortions by criminal groups that abound in service to evil.

The response to the migration crisis in Reynosa has been mixed. While some non-governmental organizations, such as the Rio Grande Bible Church in McAllen, students from Texas A&M in Bryan, Texas, Avondale Baptist Church, and volunteer groups, work tirelessly to assist, the response capacity needs to be improved in the face of the magnitude of the needs. Mexico and the United States immigration policies also play a crucial role, with measures that often change and affect the migrants’ chances of crossing the border or applying for asylum.

The future of migrants in Reynosa and other border cities is uncertain. Although some achieve their goal of entering the United States, others remain trapped in a legal and social limbo. The challenge is twofold: to improve conditions and security for migrants in the short term and to address the root causes of migration in the long term.

The situation of migrants in Reynosa reflects a broader humanitarian crisis that requires a compassionate and coordinated response at local, national, and international levels. As border cities continue to witness the arrival of migrants, efforts must focus on providing immediate relief and seeking lasting solutions that respect the rights and dignity of all people on the move.

Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

James 2:14-17 (NIV)

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

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