Sunday, August 27, 2006

God's Love in Action: Houston's "Border Angel"

"Paper Houses" is what he calls his organization. If you've ever been to the poor areas of Mexico, you'll know exactly what he's talking about: the large number of families who live in once-discarded cardboard boxes, now fashioned into very crude houses. Paper houses is right. I don't expect the homes survive rainstorms very well.

While it's easy to get caught up in the political angles of the problem -- how much responsibility each should the governments of the U.S. and Mexico take for the welfare of the citizens of Mexico? -- the fact remains that the most obvious division of responsibility there leaves vast numbers of people living in really stunning levels of poverty, living in cardboard houses and wearing pieces of old tires for shoes. Given that the problem has resisted all political solutions, Bob Decker (25-year veteran of the Houston Police Department) has started helping the only way he can. He spends most of his off-duty time in the shantytowns along the border, channels his spare money to food kitchens and medical care for the people there. He is a self-starter: saw the need and did something about it. Nothing was going to stop him.

When I see his dedication, honestly I'm ashamed of myself for not doing more. When he asks himself, "What can one person do?", he answers himself, "Let's find out."

The phrase "Border Angel" is a nod to a write-up that Mr. Decker was given in the September 2006 edition of People Espanol, where the article "Angel en la Frontera" (pp. 200-205) is dedicated to Mr. Decker's Houston-based organization.

Previous in the God's love in action series:
Society of St. Andrew's Gleaning Network


codepoke said...


Weekend Fisher said...

Myself, I'm amazed by how much that one man has been able to do. I'm also impressed by his ethics. He refuses to smuggle in used clothing from the U.S. I'm not saying there are groups who smuggle clothing to Mexico and time their border crossings to the shift changes of the guard at the borders (cough), but like the man says on his web page, he knows lots of people do it, but he's not going to break Mexican law. I have to admire that.

Bob from San Antonio said...

Thank you for the kind words. However, anyone can accomplish as much. It is a simple matter of doing.

Faith, without action is useless. Take comfort in the fact that God has a wonderful sense of humor and can even take someone like me and help me to be a little more like what He intended when he created me.

Bob Decker, Paper Houses Across the Border.