Laredo pastor & wife shelter immigrants in their own home

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Add Lorenzo and Oralia Ortiz to the list of saints sacrificially demonstrating the love of Jesus in the immigration crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Despite intense pressure, the Ortizes have persisted in following their call to minister to immigrants from Central America amassing at the border, noted Jorge Zapata, director of Fellowship Southwest’s Immigrant Relief Ministry and associate coordinator of CBF Texas.

The Ortizes live in Laredo, Texas, one of the U.S. ports of entry where ICE—U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—releases asylum seekers by the busloads every day. They’re homeless, with no place to go until they arrange transportation to reach sponsors, who may be scattered across the country.

“Pastor Ortiz is in great need,” Zapata reported, describing resistance by other local Christians to the ministry the Ortizes launched when the immigration crisis escalated. 

“They are taking from 75 to 100 people a day into their home, which now is a shelter for refugees,” Zapata said. Refugees stayed at a nearby church until the congregation decided it did not want to continue the ministry. But the Ortizes could not turn their backs on the refugees, each created in God’s image.

“Their utilities have tripled, and this will be a non-stop ministry,” Zapata said after visiting the Ortizes in their home. The burden of caring for so many people has created a significant financial strain. And even though they know God wants them to minister to the refugees, the work is an emotional burden, he added.

“The Ortizes and their ministry simultaneously inspire us and break our hearts,” said Marv Knox, coordinator of Fellowship Southwest. The FSW Immigrant Relief Ministry has released emergency funds to support the Ortizes, even as it seeks sustainable ongoing support.

To contribute to the FSW Immigrant Relief Ministry, click here.

If you or your church would like to provide ongoing support for the Ortizes or for the Immigrant Relief Ministry, contact Knox at mknox@cbf.net

Jay Pritchard