Biola’s Tijuana Ministry collaborates with Niños de la Promesa

A small group of Biolans minister to orphans in Mexico through the Tijuana ministry.


Biola’s Tijuana Ministry works alongside the orphanage Niños de la Promesa, “Children of Promise,” located just just outside the city. The location is home to more than 70 children. | Photo courtesy of Tyler Soria

Ethan Froelich, Writer

Biola’s Tijuana Ministry works alongside the orphanage Niños de la Promesa, “Children
of Promise,” located just just outside the city. The location is home to more than 70 children. | Photo courtesy of Tyler Soria

It is 6:45 on a Saturday morning May 7. While the bulk of Biola students sleep soundly, 15 to 20 students groggily make their way to Sutherland parking lot for the 3-hour trek to Tijuana, Mexico. Students ride to the border in volunteers’ cars and from there, they catch local transportation from the borderline to the orphanage on the outskirts of Tijuana.

Biolans travel to Tijuana

The drive to the border is a slow transition from affluence to poverty. Once outside La Mirada, the cars pass by wealthy beach cities and slowly descend south towards the border. The cities slowly become seedier, more run-down –– then, you cross the border into Tijuana. Mazes of streets take them along the road that nearly scrapes the border wall. With one wrong turn, they could be lost in Tijuana, home to 1.5 million and vicious territorial drug wars. This is what a few brave Biola students sign up for every other Saturday morning.

Freshman Tyler Soria, the Tijuana Ministry logistics leader, said the reason Biola students go is to demonstrate the love of Christ to Tijuana and the children of Niños de la Promesa, “Children of Promise,” an orphanage just outside the city. It is home to approximately 70 children of ages ranging from three to 14. Niños de la Promesa is a Christian orphanage run by an American couple, Connie and Tyler Youngkin, that admits anyone the government brings them, or that the Youngkins find themselves. The orphanage is supported from within the U.S. by Children of Promise International and Strong Tower Ministries.

Team able to provide gifts for every child

Last year during Christmas, the TJ ministry took on the daunting task of providing gifts for every child at the orphanage. After knocking on many doors in many dorms to ask for help with the goal, the ministry was able to see every child open their own personal gift. Students also brought toothbrushes and toothpaste to the children during the semester and were able to paint the children’s bedrooms.

“Yet the biggest way the students help is by the love that we are able to show the children by playing with them and showing them attention,” Soria said. “This is something they don’t always get and when you see the smiles that light up their faces when you just smile, say hello or give them piggy-back rides, it’s apparent that they love the attention.”

Junior Lacey Moe frequents the orphanage with the Tijuana Ministry. “What I love the most about going is just playing with the kids,” Moe said.

Moe recounts her favorite memories of the ministry: tie-dyeing and watching Santiago, one of her best friends at the orphanage, ride his bike.

Violence and drugs challenge orphanage

A constant challenge for the orphanage is the number of children who choose to leave and cannot come back. Moe said the public schools the children attend play a large part in convincing them to leave the orphanage.

“Once they see the relative freedom other children have compared to them, they want to leave the safety and comfort of the orphanage’s beachfront walls and make their own rules,” Moe said.

Children who leave the orphanage are told that once they leave, they can never come back. This policy serves as a way of making sure that the Youngkin’s orphanage does not become merely a place where kids come for food and housing and then leave. Most of the kids who leave are thrown back into the whirlwind of violence and drug-related crime that plagues the city.

More student help needed

“The biggest challenge we face as a ministry is that we don’t have a large amount of student involvement,” Soria said.

He recognizes that college students find it hard to factor ministry into their schedules and give up an entire Saturday. Yet, in order to run successfully, the ministry needs more support from students, both through donations of simple goods –– like toilet paper, toothpaste and toothbrushes –– and also through students committing to visit the orphanage and interact with the kids.

If the border line is not long, the students will return from their journey and arrive back in La Mirada around 7 p.m. The last time they visited was on Saturday, May 7. The exhausted students realized that they have visited the orphanage for the last time this semester. The ministry will start up again in August, after summer break. Before that happens, Soria and the ministry leaders hope a few things will happen.

“Hopefully more students will get involved, and be able to be a part of the ministry, which really helps students grow and learn how to serve others,” Soria said.

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