My Great-grandma Jenny has always been a role model for me. Every Wednesday she heads over to Juarez, where she has her ministry Jehova Proveera Ministerio. As a ministry rather than a church, Jehova Proveera Ministerio not only teaches the Word, but also provides those in poverty with necessities like food and clothing. On occasion, treats might also be provided. On Christmas, for example, toys are given to the children, and there is a large feast.
“People are looking for hope. They need it,” my grandma claims. “But a lot of people want hand-me-outs from places that don’t teach the Word.”
For my grandma, scripture has always been her source of inspiration and direction in life. 34 years ago, when the ministry began, it was a series of Bible verses that convinced her that beginning the ministry was God’s will.
The idea to alleviate the less fortunate came from the common Biblical theme to help those in need.
“We went to church and were following the teachings of Jesus,” my grandma attributed.
At first my great-grandma and her husband Ray Tapia helped another ministry. During those years there were “more pure people. And they were hungry. They needed clothes.”
Seeing the tragic reality, my grandma prayed that “God would take us to Juarez,” and that “Jesus would let us know by scripture that it was okay to start the ministry.”
These verses led Grandma Jenny and Grandpa Ray to believe that God has given His consent, the first being found on a certificate my great-grandpa earned in a church group:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
-II Corinthians 5:18-20
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 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? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
When my grandparents set out to start the ministry, a woman from one of the ministries they worked with told them that they could have their “ministry here in the outdoors.”
Up went the chairs, picnic tables, and groups of volunteers. Eventually, a building with a large room for worship, a bathroom, kid’s room, and a kitchen, would be built.
Although finding enough money to build or buy supplies for the ministry can be difficult, and transporting goods across the border can be a hassle, my grandma says that “God has [always] supplied for us. People always donate.”
“One of the ministries that helped us was [the] YouthWorks Foundation [of Minnesota],” my grandma remembers. “[The] Youth stopped coming because of the shootings (in Juarez). Parents were concerned. But they (the youth volunteers) were the primary constructors.” In fact, it was the youth who built the ministry that stands today. Young people often told my grandma that they would volunteer to help educate others, but ended up being the ones who learned the true meaning of faith.
“They (individuals whom live in poverty) were happy even though they had nothing. The people were very grateful. It made us happy to see them come for the Word of God on their own.” Grandma Jenny testifies. She suggests that if you want to help a cause, you “need to go visit and see first-hand.”
Ever since she began the ministry, my grandma has “more peace” and can “see the potential in people and what they can do if they trust God.” As a teenager, she considered herself average.
“I didn’t finish high school because I wanted a job to buy nice clothes. I got married early,” my grandma laughs, regretting that she never completed her education. Education is something she values highly now, striving for each child in the ministry to have the chance to attend school.
There are about 50 children in all. Half in elementary, and half in junior high. The junior high students go to class in the morning and get out in time for lunch. Afterward, the elementary students go for their schooling, coming back later in the afternoon. Thus, every year, my grandma fundraises for uniforms and school supplies for each of these children.
On a typical day, the first thing my grandma and her four helpers (a cook and three other volunteers. Originally, my great-grandpa was the pastor, but after he died, a pastor comes and does the preaching and music.) do is discipleship and worship, which involves guitar and piano-based Christian music. Then, the children go to Bible study while the adults listen to the preaching. Afterward, the children are fed first, before or after school (depending on the time they go.). The adults are then fed and given a sack of beans, rice, and manseca (corn meal) each, for the remainder of the week.
“The Lord has been good to us. We love the people and they love Him. That’s what makes it work,”my grandma explains. That is the message she wants to instill in future generations. If you want to make a difference, you need motivation, and you’ll need to love God. For love conquers all.
My grandma has that kind of love and passion. While some people think that people join her ministry just to eat, my grandma sees it differently. What she sees is people who are not only physically, but spiritually hungry. When they are shown love through the way God’s people provide for them physically, they inevitably feel love for God Himself.