Hope Star from Hope, Arkansas on September 25, 1974 · Page 9
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Hope Star from Hope, Arkansas · Page 9

Hope, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, September 25, 1974
Page 9
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Wednesday, September 25, 19*4 .) STAK Page Nine Center offers oasis for migrants They travel in station wagons and pick-up trucks With cam' pers on the back and they number approximately two million, they will drive over 1,000 miles to find work. They will travel in groups of two or groups as large as 46 or 50. The majority of them come from the extreme southern portion of Texas and they come through Hope on their way to work in the north or on the trip back to Texas. They are Mexican- American migrants. Located on Highway 67 South is the state's 24-hour rest stop built for migrant workers. Its purpose is to provide the migrant with an inexpensive place to say. Situated across the highway is another center with a similar purpose. That purpose according to a leaflet distributed by the center is: To be a Spiritual Oasis where the weary traverler may find both physical and spiritual refreshment for his thirsty soul. On the front of the pale green, prefabricated building is written the name of the mission in two languages. Centre Misionero de Migrantes. Translated from Spanish to English, it simply reads Migrant Mission-Center. Reverend Bob Gross, director of the Mission, says, "We are here to give the migrants first aid, koolaid, and spiritual aid and sometimes it comes in about that order." The Mission was dedicated in May, 1972, and is sponsored jointly by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Arkansas Baptist State Convention and the Hope Baptist Association, which is composed of approximately 40 Baptist Churches in this area. The building which houses the Mission was built by the Arkansas State Baptist Convention and two acres adjoining the Mission are leased to provide an area for recreational activities. "Since our beginning, we have served approximately 7,000 migrants at the Mission," Gross said in a recent interview. "What we offer these pe_oplej. js..< a . .place for, free, recreation, refreshments, Christian literature and other spiritual aid. And when needed, we offer whatever help we can when a migrant family is faced with an emergency." While the recreational program is not an extensive program, the Mission offers playground equipment for the younger migrants, a large area for football, baseball and basketball, and indoor games such as checkers and table tennis. "We hope to have a backstop for a baseball field built soon, and we are planning to have our parking area blacktopped to give the workers a good place to play basketball," Gross remarked. The Mission has a small coffee bar at which the visitors to the center are offered koolaid, coffee and cookies. A small kitchen is located there to provide meals for the staff on late-working nights. The spiritual aspect of the Mission is conducted in a low- key approach. "Most of the migrants are of the Catholic religion. What we try to do is present God's plan of salvation and encourage the workers to be faithful to the church of their choice," Gross said. The Mission does offer free Christian literature to the workers and provides a place for spiritual counseling. The type of services conducted at the Mission depend on the number of migrants who come over to Center.' "If enough people come to Center, we hold regular services, but if there are only a few, then we sit down at the tables with them and have informal discussions," Gross remarked. As to their help in emergencies, the Mission does what it can to help the migrant overcome their problems. Gross relates this incident. "Recently, two women were injured in a minor wreck in Hope, and one of them complained of back injuries. We took them to the hospital, and with all the services, the bill came to $114. We paid it out of the Migrant Mission Fund. But we asked them to pay back at least half of the bill if at all possible. This helps them to keep their dignity and self- respect as well as making it possible for us to help others." :.,, ivA"These people5are:proud ai " courteous people, and they work hard. In one instance, a migrant had a heart attack ana was placed in the intensive care unit for over a week. Alter he recovered, he was told that he would not have to pay the bill. But the mail paid off the entire sum by paying $50 a month until it was paid off." "His reasoning was that he Was thankful for the help, and that if any'other Migrant ever needed help, the money would be there to help tHem, "We couldn't possibly afford to pay for all the migrants' needs, but if the situation is .critical enough, we will do what we can to help," Gross added. According to Gross, the Mission's staff consists of himself, Danny Pritchett of Albertville, Alambama, a U.S. n worker who is a college graduate and is an apprentice to a missionary, and the volunteers who give of their free time to help the Mission in its work. "Most of our volunteers are from Calvary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church," Gross said. As to the relationship of the Mission to the state center located directly across Highway 67, Gross says with a trace of humour in his voice, "We don't have a wall of separation of church and state but we do have a highway of separation of church and state. This is because we both have the same goal in mind." As director of the Center, the forty-six year-old Gross spent the better portion of his adult life in preparation for his role as a missionary. He is a native of Archie, Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor of science in education. In between his preparations to enter the ministry, he has taught on the grade school level and high school" level. Of this work he says, "It was good experience since a majority of the migrants are young people." He has attended William Jewel College, Liberty, Missouri, Central Baptist Seminary, Kansas City, Kansas and the Mid Western Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, from which he RO MISIO 1 • • Reverend Bob Gross stands in front of the Migrant Mission degree'"''" Prior to his arrival at the Migrant Mission Center, Gross was director of a Baptist Neighbor hood Center in Albuqurque, New Mexico for 10 years. Gross reads a Bible story to an attentive group of migrant children. Text and photos by Roger Head Four children take advantage of the table tennis in the Center. •**•> Volleyball is offered to the travelers as a form of recreation. Table games are apart of the Center's activities,

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