Paying it Forward - Mexican Youth Builds Hope of Their Own

February 4, 2014 by Fabiola Johnson
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Pastor Adolfo has served in Tijuana for over 20 years. Through his partnership with Amor, he has replicated our model to build homes alongside families deeper in Mexico. This is his story:

Pastor Adolfo Escamilla Cornejo was born in Panuco, Veracruz. He came to Tijuana after finishing Seminary school on a one-year church planting assignment. 

"I had plans to return to Veracruz or go to Tabasco where everything is green. It rains all year long and it’s like paradise. But God had different plans for me and kept me in the dessert.”

Pastor Adolfo met his wife Reina at his church, where she was teaching Sunday school. They saw the great need that existed in the communities and decided to make Tijuana their home.

In 1994 Pastor Armando invited him to partner with Amor.

From the beginning I believed in the mission of providing housing, but then I noticed that lots of kids and young people were coming on mission trips and realized that this was more than building homes for the needy. It was about transformation. 

I could see the transformation that was taking place in their soul. I could see the cooperation and love being poured into our families. These kids were missionaries, who for the first time were face-to-face with the great need that existed outside their countries and felt empowered to do something about it. They knew they were making a difference and I could only imagine the impact they would continue to make for the rest of their lives. 

Several years ago I learned of the great need that existed in the farming community of San Quintin. Inspired by my work with Amor and other youth organizations that come to serve here, I reached out to the youth at my church and said: ‘Here in Tijuana, we no longer live like those in San Quintin, why? Because our brothers and sisters from Canada, Australia, United States and the UK reached out to us.’ Many of them were in elementary school when Amor built in their communities. Now some of them are in university or working. Many were able to build additions to those homes or even build block homes, and I wanted to empower them to pay it forward if you will. 


I told them: ‘Our pesos might be small compared to their dollars, but with the help of God we can do something.’ So two years ago, we made our first expedition to build homes in San Quintin. So we raised money to cover the materials, our food and transportation. 

It takes more than six hours to travel to these communities. These families live in shelters made with used plastic tarps; these tarps often have residue of pesticides on them, creating a very toxic environment that makes their children sick. All the blankets that I received from Project Hope were given to these families.

That summer we built three houses made of wood and other used materials. But it was an improvement in their lives. 

The Mexican church needs pastoral education. We have already opened churches in the communities to reach these families. But many pastors lack training. Yes, people need the Bible, but they need teachers prepared to show its relevance to their lives. 


These communities suffer high rates of domestic violence, promiscuity, teen pregnancy, vandalism, and drug addiction. These problems need to be tackled by the church, but the church often limits itself to witnessing and making disciples. 

Without education the deeper problems will not change. As I see it, the worst problem for people living in poverty is that little value is placed on the stewardship of their resources and talents. That is why we have poverty. 

First we need to educate our pastors. I see the church playing a huge role in combating poverty. Then we can reach the people. As pastors, that should be our labor every day. 


In two years, the youth at Cristo Vive has been able to build eight homes, demonstrating that even with our small pesos we can also build homes for families. 

If all pastors took our youth outside the church to help we could do much good. I see the Ministry in San Quintin as an extension of Amor Ministries. 

Last summer we had more than 200 children come to our VBS program in San Quintin. I would like to open a Breakfast hall (to feed children on their way to school) and continue growing the ministry there. I have the human resources, and my hope is to find the right partnerships to continue growing this part of the ministry.


Topics: Stories from the Field, Pastor Stories


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