Beyond Mere Talk: Kansas Pastor Coordinates Border Crisis Response

 In All Church of God, Central, CHOG

By Carl Stagner

“I watch too much news,” Clint McBroom admits. But the pastor of First Church of God in Newton, Kansas, isn’t willing to just let it go if there’s something he can do about the turmoil of the day. “I enjoy listening to what’s going on while working, and I’ve heard the stories coming from the border. I began to pay more attention to what was happening, watching the videos and hearing the stories of the kids coming across the border. It broke my heart.” Clint was simply not content to complain about the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border. Moving beyond mere talk, he decided to do something bold—something many might even dismiss as completely crazy.

“My first reaction was just drive down there,” Clint recalls.

Drive down there? Into the heart of the crisis? Wouldn’t it be more comfortable to post about it on social media? But simple obedience to the prompting of the Spirit often takes us far outside our comfort zones. “I couldn’t imagine a situation so bad that crossing the border in such a way was better than staying put,” Clint explains. “I thought about some of my own boys, who are close to the ages of those children crossing the border alone, and I could never imagine having to make that decision for them. I began to almost obsess over how I could help. It literally kept me up at night.”

Clint McBroom (center back row) stands with supporters in Kansas before leaving to the border.

Clint called his local friend Andy Ortiz. Andy was familiar with the area of the country sparking so much controversy and prompting mass media attention. Andy was immediately on board with the idea and, within a few hours, the pair had a plan. “We started taking donations on Friday and, by Monday, we realized this thing was really taking off.” All three local TV stations reached out for interview and soon the entire region knew of the efforts of the pastor and his friend. “By Wednesday, we realized we had more than our trailers could carry, and we needed a U-Haul,” Clint remembers. “The community response directly here in Newton was amazing! But just south of us in Wichita, there was a great response, as well. We had one gentleman drive an hour to bring us Goldfish crackers because he said he wanted to know kids were smiling during this difficult time of their life.”

Not everybody was so encouraging, though. Numerous comments on social media suggested the “illegals” shouldn’t receive any help. Naysayers accused Clint and Andy of “grandstanding.” Clint explains, “We heard a lot of, ‘What about the people here?’ Interestingly, Andy and I are very involved in local missions here in Newton.” Regardless of who these immigrants were or what they had done, Clint and Andy recognize that they’re image-bearers of God, too. Therefore, they say, “They still need the basics like food, clothing, and shelter, just like the rest of us.”

On the ground in Brownsville, Texas.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and documentation requirements, the fifteen-hour whirlwind trek south to Brownsville, Texas, did not result in a trip into Mexico. Thankfully, Clint and Andy were able to connect with a local organization that regularly goes into Matamoros, Mexico, for mission work. The ministry there was able to receive the donations collected in Kansas and disburse them where such supplies would be needed most. The next day, Clint says, “We were back on the road that afternoon around 2:00 and arrived back in Newton at 3:30 in the morning.”

Clint isn’t sure when they will return, but is definitely open to the possibilities. Meanwhile, he’s thoroughly blessed upon reflection of the mid-April experience. “God reminded me of how good we have it here and how blessed we are,” he says. “A year ago, I decided to start focusing on missions more in my own life, and this blessed me by giving me a chance to do something. I also realized that there are serious issues all around us, regardless of your politics. We don’t have to agree or disagree to decide to do good. We do good because we are called to do good. We weren’t called to feed, clothe, or shelter only those we agree with. God calls us to do it for all. We have the opportunity right here where we are to do good. I encourage everyone to find somewhere right where they are to make a positive impact in their community.”

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