First Church began its missionary partnership with Guillermo (Willie) Berman in 2012. Willie is a commissioned missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, serving in his home country of Mexico as the Mexican Border Mission Coordinator.
Willie is the Director of a Mexican organization called “Manos Juntas” (Hands Together). His missionary task is to partner United Methodist volunteers from the United States with mission needs and projects in Mexico. Willie comments, “When we partner, everyone gets the benefit of being part of a more holistic ministry for the community.”
From its headquarters in Rio Bravo, just across the border from McAllen, Manos Juntas manages programs that affect the lives of thousands of people every year. A hot lunch program feeds 70 children every day. “Manitas Juntas” (Little Hands Together) helps children find their missionary calling by participating in activities with partner mission teams in tasks such as assisting the elderly, cleaning parks, painting public schools, and organizing friendship parties at orphanages. A scholarship fund assists students so they don’t drop from High School and College. A new building in Nuevo Progreso will be used as an auditorium for 300 people to do movies, plays, concerts and educational conferences for the community. The roof is being finished this month and they hope to be open next November.
With Mission Medical and Construction teams from the US Churches, Manos Juntas offers a series of medical clinics and serves 6,000 patients per year, and the construction program helps families get homes and congregations get worship spaces, build schools or classrooms, and constructs or repairs community facilities. Manos Juntas is also teaching people to learn a life skill with sewing classes, welding classes, carpentry classes and how to make piñatas. Give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, teach him to fish you will feed him for a lifetime… Manos Juntas is also helping people getting the fishing rod providing tools and a place for them to become self-sufficient. Currently Manos Juntas has 13 employees and 10 more part time jobs on different partnership programs.
The “Vamos Tamaulipas Community Center”, coordinated by his wife Veronica, offers pre-school and elementary school education and long-term services to help families break the cycle of poverty. In 2015 they coordinated the work of 48 mission teams and they are expecting to finish this year with 52 mission teams working in México. A program called 365 Partner asks for donations of $365 dollars per year, this is one dollar a day and will help support all of the programs above.
Empowerment, relationships and self-sufficiency are the three core values for this ministry. When a new program is designed, there is a component to become self sustained.
Willie Berman believes that his role as a missionary is “to be in the middle of the Church and the volunteers, to help all of them understand what their roles are…when we partner with God on his mission on the Mexican border, He blesses all the efforts of the people involved and the Methodist Church of México gets stronger.” “We use all of our programs as the excuse to show the love of Christ to all”.
Your Gifts and support to Manos Juntas Ministry (advance # 3020527) may be dropped in the offering plate anytime during September or mailed to or brought to the church office. Willie’s support comes from Global Ministries (advance # 3019612).