The Power of a Cross

By Mariellyn Dunlap Grace

“Are you sure this is the place?” Pastor Hector Aguirre’s wife Berta asked in disbelief.

With no water or electricity, the location of Templo Aleluya, Piedras Negras’ newest Methodist congregation, was not exactly ideal. How would they even get people to come? As Pastor Hector began visiting his church’s new neighbors, a pattern emerged. Living in tiny shacks beside the railroad tracks, these people were hungry. So Pastor Hector and his family prayed for enough food to satisfy the hunger of everyone who came to church.

“One day, we had no food, but we came across some bags on the side of the road…and they were full of bread!” Pastor Hector recalls. “There was enough for every person in the church. We found out [that day] that God was in charge of the food!”

In addition to providing basic necessities for their families, the people living in this impoverished area of Piedras Negras long to give their children a chance to escape from life in the colonia. Education is one of the most important steps toward that end, yet these families cannot afford to pay for school fees, books, or uniforms.

Acknowledging this need, Templo Aleluya raised the funds to build an elementary school on their property. Today, the building stands empty, ready to be filled with the sounds of children’s learning and laughter. For now, the cost of paying the teachers’ salaries is all that stands between the children of the colonia and a chance at a new life.

Flavio, caretaker of the Templo Aleluya church grounds, knows what it means to be given a second chance at life. After he was released prison, Pastor Hector invited Flavio and his family to move to the Templo Aleluya grounds. Now each day, Flavio spends hours traveling to and from the colonia to bring children and adults to devotions and worship services.

“Most of the children come from families where the dad can’t work because he is uneducated or unskilled,” Flavio explains. “But we can break this cycle of poverty and give kids a good education. We can carry this generation in good hands.”

Flavio’s other passion lies in woodworking: he creates beautiful, intricately-designed wooden crosses to sell to mission teams and churches in the U.S. All of the money goes toward the church and school: “We are God’s tools. I do this for the children to be blessed, so they aren’t hungry anymore…so they will have faith and hope.”

By all appearances, the people of Templo Aleluya have anything but abundant life. They have little in the way of possessions or wealth, yet each day they sing and dance with a joy that can come only from above. And thanks to Templo Aleluya, they can rejoice that their children are being fed at least one good meal each day…and that perhaps one day soon, their children will receive a free education, releasing them from the cycle of poverty in which they were raised.

To support the Templo Aleluya elementary school by purchasing one of Flavio’s crosses, take a look at their online catalog, then send an email with your order to Aleluya.ministries [at]