Osvaldo and Vanessa Lerma have served as Texas Baptists River Ministry missionaries in the Rio Grande Valley for a combined 25 years. From the colonias in Mission to the beaches of South Padre Island, the Lermas coordinate ongoing ministry on both sides of the border. Vanessa works primarily in McAllen, Harlingen and Mission, while Osvaldo covers the Brownsville region. They easily put 100-200 miles on their cars each day as they work with different ministry partners across their territory.
Building trust and deepening relationships with local pastors is a key-component of ministry, according to Osvaldo. He checks in each month with many area pastors and asks what needs they have in their congregation. After hearing expressed needs–ranging from spiritual and emotional to physical–Osvaldo seeks to provide help and connect pastors with resources.
Vanessa expressed gratitude to Texas Baptists churches around the state who have invested in River Ministry and partnered together for greater impact.
“Mission teams have been a blessing for many years to our local churches and within our communities,” Vanessa said. “The biggest blessing is seeing the transformation in families and seeing God’s love through Bible studies, donations, training, equipping and empowering them. It has been key in our families, as you share God’s love, you see this hope in their lives.”
By meeting immediate needs through medical and dental care, or through a feeding ministry, Vanessa has seen the help turn into glimpses of hope for individuals and many lives have been changed. The Lermas invite Texas Baptists churches to continue partnership with ministry in the Rio Grande Valley.
“When outside churches come, you strengthen the work the local church is already doing,” Osvaldo said.