Violence in Mexico Keeps Missionaries Close to Home

Youth group will stay in North Texas instead of heading to

By Randy McIlwain
|  Thursday, Mar 10, 2011  |  Updated 12:15 AM CDT
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A <a title=Plano youth group will be working in Dallas this spring break instead of heading to Mexico." />

Randy McIlwain, NBCDFW.com

A Plano youth group will be working in Dallas this spring break instead of heading to Mexico.

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A Plano church that has spent years working in Mexico has refocused its missionaries because of drug wars there.

Bruce Dicus, a youth pastor, did not miss a missionary trip to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in 17 years until two years ago.

"I miss going there," he said. "Serving God with your hands is one aspect."

As spring break approaches, Dicus is preparing the Cross Bend Christian Church's youth group for its next mission -- a trip to Dallas to do some repairs on a the building of a local charity as well as work serving food to homeless people in soup kitchens.

The kids are enthusiastic about helping, but they long to go to the community across the border from El Paso.

"I'm disappointed for the people there," 18-year-old Cody Humes said. "They're stuck down there."

The Texas Department of Safety is advising students on spring break to avoid northern Mexico and some resort cities because of drug cartel violence and other crime problems.

But Dicus said he is trying to stress to young missionaries that you don't need to cross international borders to find need.

Danielle Lambert said the last two years have been eye-opening.

"I've been to Alabama; Galveston; Canadian, Texas; and I've been to Oklahoma," she said.

In their travels, the teenagers have built homes for Haitian refugees, helped storm-ravaged communities clean up and mentored inner-city youth.

"They may feel like they're unwanted, not necessary," Lambert said. "I like to make people feel happy to be here."

Dicus said the congregation hopes a trip to Juárez will be possible one day soon, and that its youth group can experience another culture abroad and start its own traditions of spreading a message of faith across international borders.

"It would be great to go back," he said. "It would mean the problems that exist are no longer there."

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