South Texas is one of the most bountiful areas of our country being rich in produce and Hispanic culture. The Rio Grande Valley in Hildalgo County is the center of this great agricultural belt and is home to several Hispanic congregations that have been started and supported by our McDermott family. With “The Valley” being our closest geographic mission point, our members have many opportunities to serve hundreds of local residents and participate in a variety of settings.
Hildalgo County, Texas continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of Texas as it has been for the past ten years. The Hispanic community makes up 88% of the population and about 90% of the land is comprised of farms and ranches. This county has also led Texas in the production of cabbage, onions, cantaloupes, carrots, and watermelons for many years. Despite the great farmland and produce production. It is also a very poor area of our country, being ranked first among U.S. counties for the greatest share of people on food stamps and 29% of the population living below the poverty line.
In 1984 a small group of Christians in the area began meeting in a colonia (rural shantytown) called Las Milpas. This was the beginning of what have become several established churches in other colonias. These churches began to grow and in 2005 members of the McDermott family made us aware of the opportunity to assist these newly forming congregations. Since 2005, McDermott Road has helped establish churches in Alton, Palmview, Iowa Road, and Alamo, as well as help the church in Las Milpas. With its proximity to Mexico, we now assist six congregations in Reynosa and Monterey, Mexico. Our influence has been helpful in encouraging and assisting up to nineteen congregations in the South Texas and Mexico area. This assistance has included partnering in the construction of church buildings, supporting local Hispanic preachers, and many mission trips involving our membership.
In April and October, our congregation sends an average of forty members to the Valley on short-term mission trips. Our Members engage in Vacation Bible Schools, hosts events for ladies, provide personnel for a mobile dental and eye clinic, and physically help to build new and conduct maintenance on homes and church buildings in the area. Our youth group also makes a regular trip to the Valley during the each summer. In August we provide needed school supplies. We fill and deliver an average of 250 backpacks for school age children returning to school. At Christmas we provide an “angel tree” gift for these same children.
With poverty levels being so high in this area, we trust that our focused effort to provide physical as well as spiritual support will benefit those on both sides of the border. We consistently pray for the growth of local leadership in these churches and that despite their poverty, our Hispanic brethren find their ultimate identity and destiny in the love of Christ and purposes of God.