|The Mexican couple was touched by the overwhelming needs of the community. “Most folks here were poor subsistence farmers. God gave me a dream that I had to build a church. We worked for eight months, day and night. We knew God was going to do something special, but nobody had a clue about what was really going to happen.” That year, Templo Embajadores de Jesús, or Ambassadors of Jesus Church, was born. Banda held services on Sunday, then hit the rugged roads the rest of the week going house-to-house, ministering to physical and spiritual needs.
‘We knew God was going to do something special, but nobody had a clue about what was really going to happen’
In 2016, the church’s focus drastically changed when thousands of Haitians, escaping poverty and back-to-back natural disasters, began to carve a dangerous 7,000-mile path through Latin America to the U.S. Many landed on the church’s doorsteps, less than 30 minutes from the San Ysidro border. “Within months, 22,000 Haitians had arrived in the city of Tijuana.” The church became a place of refuge. “I did not know, nor did I ever imagine, that there would be so many people in the church.”
Since then, Banda provided a refuge to migrants from all parts of the world. “It started with migrants coming from Haiti, Africa, Pakistan, and the Middle East. Today, we mainly have people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and some from Mexico. We estimate about 35,000 people have come through the church. We feed them 3 times a day. We try to help them with all their needs. At nighttime, the entire church becomes one big giant dorm where everyone sets up their beds on the floor.”