Jeffery Jimenez is the director of Border Engagement Ministries at Point Loma Nazarene University. Although this is his first semester in the role, he hit the ground running, putting together frequent day trips, as well as multi-day trips through the Ministry with Mexico program in order to help out our neighbors just south of us. A staff writer for The Point talked with Jimenez about what the Ministry with Mexico program is all about.
The Point: First off, could you give me just a brief description of what the Ministry with Mexico program is?
Jeffery Jimenez: Yeah, so, the Ministry with Mexico is, well, it’s a ministry that’s part of Point Loma [Nazarene University] that partners with either ministries, organizations and/or churches across the border. So that could be in Tijuana, Otay, Tecate, sometimes even further south in Baja.
But on a regular basis, the day trips that we have are to Tijuana, Otay and Tecate. We partner with these organizations, we call them our hosts; these are organizations that are already doing good work in Mexico. We have two children’s homes, one is specifically for children with HIV. You probably read about that on the MyPLNU, Eunime PorTijuana. We have another one, Casa Hogar Belen, which is like a children’s home for kids whose parents are either in prison or have passed away or, you know, the state has removed them from their family. And then we have a kind of a more community-based children’s organization called Comité Binacional. That one brings children from a local school, a community or from a neighborhood where we can just interact with them. And then the last one that we do is … with the Church of Nazarene District in Tijuana and we do mostly service projects with them. So like this Saturday [Nov. 11], we’re going to go paint a church in Tecate. And actually, it’s the same church that we’re going to be returning to during our spring break build. They need a new parsonage so we’re going to be returning there to that same site in Tecate to build that parsonage.
TP: The trip that’s on the 18th of this month [November], the Tijuana Binacional Committee.
JJ: Yeah, Binacional Comité Binacional.
TP: Yes, what does that entail? What should people look forward to?
JJ: One of the things about our ministry is that we go and we do whatever we’re asked to do by them. We don’t come with our own agenda. We don’t necessarily say, “Hey, this is what we’re going to do for you.” It’s, “Hey, what can we do to partner with what you’re already doing?” And in that case, they asked us to help them serve a Thanksgiving meal to these children so that they can learn, not necessarily about the holiday itself, but more about just the celebration of gratitude.
We’re going to bring some turkeys and some ham and some, you know, sides and stuff like that. And we’re just going to serve a meal with the kids in the community. So, people who want to attend are going to be mostly interacting with kids, teaching a little bit about Thanksgiving and our practice of gratitude, but also serving them a meal.
TP: What are some of the benefits of where we’re visiting and some of the benefits of the people going on these day trips?
JJ: I think one of the benefits about again, Ministry with Mexico, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel where we’re partnering with organizations, local organizations that are already doing work there. So we’re not taking away from anything they’re doing. We’re just adding our support to them. I think it’s really important for our hosts to know that, you know, we believe in what they do, and we want to support them and we want to be a part of that in whatever way they want us to. I think it’s good for, you know, the children who are part of these homes, the churches that are receiving students, to see, “Hey, these are our neighbors to the north of us, they care about us, they believe in us, they want to be part of our lives and our experience here.”
I think for the students, our students here at Point Loma, it’s really important to be able to remember — it’s easy to forget — that we have neighbors to the south, that they have their own stories and their own experiences and just that transcultural, or trans-border in this case, or national encounters or engagements just really help to expand perspectives, how to build relationships, to kind of put a face to some of the stuff that we hear about happening in Mexico. And to realize that, you know, there is need, yes, but there’s also so much humanity and so many things that we have in common and that we can be a small but, I think, significant part of blessing and serving our neighbors.
TP: How can students be a part of this program if they don’t know where to start?
JJ: The best way is going to be MyPLNU. So, they basically just have to search “Ministry with Mexico” in MyPLNU, [and] then our ministry is going to pop up. Then they can get more information about each of our trips that we have on a regular basis and some of the trips that we have on a more — like a longer kind — like a spring break build or a border pilgrimage that we have multiple times a year but yes, MyPLNU, “Ministry with Mexico,” and basically just go from there.
TP: What advice would you give to someone who wants to check it out, but there’s just something holding them back?
JJ: I think we, Point Loma [Nazarene University], have such an incredible and unique opportunity to engage with another country, another culture, … it’s something so special and unique to being in San Diego and a border town that I really would advise everyone to take advantage of that because the way that our perspectives grow, the way that we’re challenged in good, healthy ways by going on a trip, even if it’s just on a day trip.
We can be in Mexico in the morning and be back by dinner time, that’s pretty amazing. Not a lot of people have that opportunity. So, I just really hope that people don’t take for granted the fact that this is something that our school offers. That’s something that they can do and be a part of and I guarantee that if you go on one of these trips, you’re going to be formed in a certain way and you’re going to want to come back and continue to be a part of it. That’s just been the experience.
I’ve only been doing this for this semester. I’m actually pretty new to my position here, but all I’ve heard has been nothing but great things about the people who choose to be a part of these trips that we offer.
TP: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
JJ: We get to partner with God and be a part of what he’s doing through these organizations in Mexico, and Point Loma [Nazarene University] has the opportunity and the blessing to be a part of that, so don’t take it for granted.