Last Days' Mexico Mercy Ministry
"Last Days Ministries has partnered with Wayne and Carol Kiger-Rice, directors of San Diego-based Voice of the Bride Ministries, to bring relief to the poor and hungry of Tijuana in the name of Jesus"
Twenty miles from downtown San Diego sits a vast collection of battered, tin-roofed shanties. It was a brisk, Good Friday morning when Wayne Kiger-Rice pulled up the dirt road. His partner in ministry, Greg, had driven their donated pickup truck in the night before, its flatbed filled with food. Breakfast time! The children gathered outside in their sweatshirts, balancing a mismatched assortment of dishes on boulders, old wooden cable spools, and rickety tables. They didn’t seem to mind. It may have been day-old and from “the other side”, but it was food, and their smiles matched the one on Wayne’s face as he watched them eat.
Drawn to Tijuana by the lure of the border and potential employment, many poverty-stricken Mexican citizens end up in colonia, extremely poor neighborhoods nestled against the steel wall separating Mexico from the United States. As the economy around the world continues to fall, food prices rise and those who were already struggling find themselves in even greater need. The daily wage in Mexico averages $12, not enough to care for a family. Last Days Ministries has partnered with Wayne and Carol Kiger-Rice, directors of San Diego-based Voice of the Bride Ministries, to bring relief to the poor and hungry of Tijuana in the name of Jesus.
Hungry in the Danger Zone
Wayne and Greg cross the border several times a week, bringing donated food to Vicente, who distributes it to orphanages, homes for the “antiguas” (elderly), infirmaries, rehabilitation centers, the Salvation Army, and others in need. As the economic woes in the U.S. have increased, donations from restaurants and food stores have dropped off, and as drug wars in Mexico heat up, with over 2,500 people killed in the first three months of 2009, U.S.-based relief organizations have curtailed their activities. It’s dangerous to cross the border these days, and those who do have less to give, which leaves the poorest and weakest in worsening straits. As Wayne and Carol have brought what they consider the simplest of food, they have discovered how deeply needed and appreciated it is. Many of the rehabs often run out of food for their residents. On a recent trip to a rehab, Wayne and Vicente arrived just in time to see what was being served as the evening meal – plain broth. The bread they had brought was an eagerly welcomed addition. When they stopped at Casa Hogar Para Antigua with a few loaves of bread and a single small bag of pastries, 120 wheelchair- and bed-bound elderly delightedly cupped their hands to receive a tiny piece of the treat.
Day-old bread, fruits and vegetables, and occasionally even milk and stale pastries might not seem so important to us, but the food once provided to these places has been cut off due to the lagging American economy and the danger inherent in traveling through areas disputed by warring drug cartels. But what in the States is called “lack”, just across the border would be called “riches”. The resourcefulness of the Mexican people is truly amazing, and every bit brought down to the needy in the Tijuana area is used – even spoiled milk is turned into cheese! Wayne and Carol are determined to continue, and even expand, their work of mercy to the neediest. It hasn’t been an easy choice, though, and they crave our prayers for their safety. Regarding her husband, Carol has said, “I pray every day for his protection. But there is only one thing I can ask myself… What would Jesus do?”
From the Other Side
A thin steel wall along the border seems to be the difference between overabundance and hunger. “Are you from the other side?” Wayne is often asked. The people he ministers to in Tijuana dream of an easier life in what has become known as the "other side." They dream of clean streets, clean buildings, public schools for kids, plentiful jobs, an uncorrupt government, and a freedom unknown to the poor in Mexico. Yes, physically the “other side” is easier. But Wayne and Carol minister the truth that supersedes this reality – no matter what side of the border you live on, Jesus is the only one with the answer. It is the hope of Jesus that will make life joyful, not living north of that steel wall. Last Days’ Ministries is delighted to partner with them in bringing the whole Gospel of salvation and mercy to those caught in hunger, poverty, drugs, crime, homelessness, prostitution, trafficking, and injustice.
Behind the Levee Doors
Vicente, one of Wayne’s local ministry partners in Tijuana, has been telling him about the “people who live under the doors under the ground.” Wayne finally got a firsthand look at what he was describing when he joined Vicente for a day of ministry and food distribution. As their truck drove down into the concrete canals and aqueducts of the Tijuana river and the driver called out “free sandwiches!” drug addicts and deported immigrants began rolling out from under the propped up levee doors. An entire underground culture of broken people live in the tunnels behind the doors, sharing air and space with the filth of sewage, even during the rainy season. Among these was a man who begged desperately for help as he went through withdrawal from heroin. Wayne, Vicente, and other volunteers gathered around him, laying on hands and praying.
Prayer comes with the sandwiches. In fact, it comes with every act of mercy and provision. Wayne and Carol, ordained ministers with Vineyard Christian Fellowship, have been doing full or part time mission work for over 13 years. Their vision is to extend help to the needy while furthering the Gospel through worship and intercession. They know without prayer, without intervention in the spiritual realm, their efforts would remain simply human, and limited to a human scope and effectiveness. LDM’s partnership with the Kiger-Rices is born out of this mutual heart and vision.
God’s Gifts Have no Borders
Wayne and Greg make the trip across the border several times a week, carrying all the food they can collect. In one weekly outreach each of the approximately 100 recipients receives a bag full of bread and/or produce as well as prayer. Many of those who attend are men without a job or who have been struggling with drugs. But they are increasingly seeing women and children who are in great need. Some, like the young woman troubled by her past and battered by the father of her small child, have not found the freedom of Jesus yet. But others – like Victor who is now well, clean, and sober – have!
At Christmastime the ministry takes joy in giving small gifts to those who most need them – 130 pairs of socks for the antigua’s home; 85 bright caps with a candy cane in each for the men, women, and children who come to the Tuesday night outreach; used toys from friends in San Diego, which Vicente takes to the children’s homes; homemade cookies freshly baked… The greatest gift, of course, is two-fold: the love of Jesus extended to those He loves and longs for, and the joy of having walked with Him in His care for the poor. Please join with Last Days Ministries in partnering with Wayne and Carol to bring the love and provision of God across borders – be they physical or of the heart. The Holy Spirit knows no boundaries!
...for those Wayne and Carol minister to
...for favor with retailers who might donate food for the poor
...for financial support for Wayne so he can minister full-time
...for safety while in Mexico, in light of increasing crime and violence