Steven Eng, advocacy director of the National Association of Evangelicals, works with NAE leaders, constituents and others to help advance the principles of the NAE document, “For the Health of the Nation,” as they use their God-given influence to bless our nation. Eng served for three decades as an ordained evangelical pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church. He received a degree in political science from St. Olaf College and a M.Div. degree from North Park Theological Seminary.
Evangelical churches in the greater EL Paso area are coming together to care for asylum seekers and other migrants.
One group, the El Paso Baptist Association, opened the El Paso Migrant Center in 2021 at Scotsdale Baptist Church. They aim to meet the humanitarian and the spiritual needs of migrants as they collaborate with 84 Baptist churches and others to be the hands, feet and love of Christ to hundreds of migrants being processed, some only for a short time before they are sent back across the border.
Kelly Knott (pictured above) is the missions coordinator and director of the El Paso Migrant Center for the El Paso Baptist Association and pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Corona de Vida in suburban El Paso. He says the needs of immigrants are too big to ignore — especially as growing numbers of migrants present themselves at the border. These churches have chosen to see these border challenges as an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus, serve the needs of the community, and serve Jesus himself when we care for the least of these, as Christ says in Matthew 25.
Caring for Migrants at the Border
Pastor Kelly Knott coordinates the El Paso Migrant Center for asylum seekers and other migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Whether they return to Mexico or continue into the United States, migrants find welcome arms and aid at the El Paso Migrant Center.
The El Paso Migrant Center works with local and city governments and other faith-based migrant organizations such as Abara Borderland Connections. This community-driven ministry accepts no government funding so they can freely share Christ with those they serve. Scotsdale Baptist is the pillar of this ministry, Knott points out, granting the Migrant Center full use of their gymnasium, kitchen and classrooms on a long-term basis so they can provide sleeping quarters, meals, clothes and legal assistance for those seeking asylum in the United States.
“Everyone is sowing a seed,” Knott says of their volunteers and partners. “In these turbulent times, believers coming together to serve our neighbor”— both brothers and sisters in Christ, and all others coming through their doors.
They serve, share and live out the gospel, he says, by “telling them they’re not prisoners here, that we love them, and that God has them here for a purpose.” They offer prayer and encouragement through worship and Bible studies in both Creole and Spanish. And along the way they are seeing people come to know the Lord.
Most are very receptive to their ministry, he says. “Many already have a strong relationship with the Lord,” while “others are finding him.” Many have experienced significant trials, Knott observes, which can draw people closer to God. “Some are already believers, even pastors,” he explains. “God is with them through the whole process, doing what he can to strengthen their faith or bring them to faith.”
For himself, Knott says, “It is just a blessing for me to serve the least of these. Our reward is knowing we are fulfilling the gospel and the Great Commission and are obeying God through word and deed.”
In this beautiful interplay of giving and receiving — by migrants and by those evangelicals serving at the shelter — people are blessed, he says. “Everyone here is a blessing,” he says. “Everyone deserves an opportunity, even though we don’t deserve anything. God has us here for a reason, to be a blessing. God blesses us to be a blessing.”
*This article is Part 2 of the Stories from the Border series.
Responding to Migrant Needs
With so many people and needs at our border, it can be difficult to know how to respond. Steve Eng, NAE advocacy director, offers four ideas for us to consider.Get Started