Editor's note: Associate Conference Minister Andy Gustafson is on sabbatical, traveling across the country. He will be visiting United Church of Christ Justice and Witness immersion centers and mission sites and the UCC General Synod and blogging about what he sees. His posts about those sites will be posted here on macucc.org. His full travel blog is here : http://travelblogs.mapquest.com/32860/changing-lives-tour.
Centro Romero is the heart and hands of the United Church of Christ reaching across the border into Tijuana, Mexico to help God’s children in need. I had the privilege of spending a morning with Carlos Correa and learning about the ministries the United Church of Christ is engaged in, and about the immersion programs of the center.
Programs initiated and supported by Centro Romero in Tijuana include the only HIV/AIDS clinic, a program for autistic children, and a sanctuary for young women and boys rescued from the sex trade.
Centro Romero also provides immersion experiences for church groups at a very low cost. These can be tailored to the specific interests of the group. There are opportunities to visit with and learn from people in Tijuana and to engage in theological reflections. Centro Romero also sponsors trips to other places in Latin America, such as Brazil, Cuba, Columbia, and a city in Mexico where 60% of the population are retired Americans (immigration goes both ways).
I came away not only with an appreciation for this important ministry, but also with a deeper understanding of the economic injustices occurring on our border. In the factories in Tijuana (maquiladoras) women work 9 hours a day for six days a week for $59. They wear Depends so they don’t need to lose income for taking a bathroom break. They are tested weekly to see if they are pregnant, and if they are, they are fired. There is a high cost in human suffering for the cheap goods which prop up the American lifestyle.
If you would like to engage in a transformational experience, or just learn more, please visit Centro Romero's website www.theromerocenter.org or call Carlos at (619) 428-8700.
The late Andy Gustasfon served as the Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development from 2004 to 2014.