Mercy Without Borders helping thousands of migrant arrivals in Reynosa, Mexico

Hill Country couple expands existing ministry in response

COMAL COUNTY, Texas – Roland and Carolyn Ashby’s home in the Hill Country is a long way from the migrant camps along the Rio Grande in Reynosa, Mexico.

“You don’t get across that river unless you pay the cartel,” Roland Ashby said. “That’s why a lot of people are piling up on that side of the river.”

He said they’ve run out of money, on top of their uncertainty over what to do now that Title 42 has expired.

In response, the Ashbys have expanded their existing Strategic Alliance Ministries by creating Mercy Without Borders.

“We’re just doing what we feel like Jesus would do,” Roland Ashby said.

He said they’ve fed up to 4,500 migrants twice daily, started three schools and three churches, and try to provide for their medical needs.

“We need doctors on our team and that costs money,” he said. “But God is faithful.”

Carolyn Ashby said they also try to tend to their spiritual needs.

“I can pray for them,” she said. “I can do that whether they ask me to or not.”

Strategic Alliance Ministries already had its “Homes for the Homeless” ministry in Reynosa for several years, building homes for the poorest of the poor living next to the city’s garbage dump.

The situation on the border is still evolving, they said, but what hasn’t changed is what inspired them to do what they’ve been doing.

Roland Ashby said, “Being from the world that we live in, I felt like God said, ‘You can do something.’”

His wife of 53 years said she came to realize, “I needed the poor as much as they needed me.”

She said their ministry has given her the opportunity to exercise the compassion in her heart that she’s felt since childhood.

“It’s not easy, but it’s real simple, feeding people, loving people, hugging people,” Carolyn Ashby said. “There’s nothing that feels like the love those people give to us.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Alexis Montalbo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.