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Local church mission trip expands

NorthPark Church crosses borders and communities

Posted: January 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.

A team of volunteers works to finish roofing two homes in Benito Juarez, Mexico.

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A team of 100 volunteers from NorthPark Community Church spent the first few days of 2013 in Mexico serving others who needed it most. Every January, for the past five years, the team traveled to a small town outside of Ensenada to build houses for poor families.

The first year only 22 volunteers helped and last year the team had 65. This year, the team grew to 100 volunteers, including families from other church affiliations and states.

Volunteers included families from a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a family who lives in Colorado, friends of NorthPark members Jim and Susan Backer. While not members of NorthPark, they wanted to help the cause.

“It is really expanding beyond a NorthPark ministry,” said Bob Hudson, outreach pastor of NorthPark.

Volunteers built two houses in the small town Benito Juarez and another two in Colonia Oaxaca. Many Oaxacan Indians, from southern Mexico, travel to Baja California to become field workers. They migrate looking for work and hoping to find a way to feed their children.

“If we could build 100 houses down there, using people across a wide spectrum in our valley, I would gladly welcome it,” Hudson said. “Our larger purpose is to bless the community in Mexico and get them out of abject poverty.”

Life-changing experience

The four-day trip is described as a “life-changing” event by everyone who has attended. Volunteers offer accounts of their experiences, speaking about the poverty and the joy brought to families after they are given a home, many for the first time.

The Backers have attended the trip with their three children for the last four years. They continue to serve because they want their children to learn to help others and offer them a cross-cultural experience.

“It feels good to be a part of giving a family a home,” said Andrew Backer, Jim and Susan’s 13 year-old son.

One family was living in a camper shell which is meant to be fixed to the back of a pickup truck. The shell, with multiple holes, exposed the family to the elements and allowed rodents to enter and eat their food. The family was overjoyed when they received a home of their own.

“It is amazing to see how grateful they are,” Hudson said. “God is rescuing them from a difficult and dangerous situation, it is amazing to be a part of the process.”

Helping others

Darin Rapko and his family have attended for the last five years. Rapko calls the experience “profound” and said it has really changed him.

“We smelled garbage burning, saw trash everywhere and families with next to nothing, living in the shell of a school bus,” he said. “We need to help people that can’t help themselves.”

Volunteers help construct 320 square foot houses for the families. Children and adults help frame, drywall, install roofing and paint. Rapko shared how touching it was to watch his children play with the local children.

“Life is so hard there,” he said. “But seeing my kids holding and playing with other kids, it moved my heart. There was a language barrier, but the language of love is universal.”


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