A dream team of evangelical superstars is rolling up their shirtsleeves to care for unaccompanied-minor children now seeking safe harbor in the United States – including some separated from their parents.
The group visited the sprawling 215-acre campus of the Youth for Tomorrow center Friday in Bristow, Virginia. It is a residential treatment center, or group home, caring for hundreds of unaccompanied minor children. The children are often sent to Bristow after being apprehended at the southern border, and the facility is one of the main care centers partnering with Health and Human Services to take care of the kids.
About 85 percent of the children who cross the border arrive unaccompanied by a parent. Generally, they are delivered by traffickers. Analysts say many of the children, most of whom are from Central America, faced a stark choice at home: They would have to either join the criminal gangs that run rampant in their native lands, or be targeted for violence. To escape violence and poverty, they fled to the United States.
The evangelical leaders toured the facility, then chipped right in to help. They served lunch, distribute clothing, and hand out supplies that were furnished through a $15,000 donation from the Plano, Texas-based Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Youth for Tomorrow is a program founded by former Washington Redskins coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs. The faith-based Christian organization provides medical care, education, counseling, emotional and psychological support, as well as food, clothing, and recreation. It helps unite children with family members and sponsors, and an on-site chapel hosts multiple weekly worship services.
Among the activities: Liberty University's soccer coach organized a clinic for the children. Duffle bags of toiletries, school supplies, and backpacks were handed out. The ministers even brought along a massive inflatable water park to given the children a much-needed respite from weightier concerns.
Among the participants were members of President Donald Trump's high-powered council of evangelical advisers, including Pastor Jack Graham, Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Rev. Johnnie Moore, Pastor Paula White, and Bishop Harry Jackson Jr.
The quality of the center in Virginia stands in sharp contrast to the "children in cages" image so many media outlets have presented. When each child arrives, he or she is seen by a clinician, given a psychological evaluation, and assigned a caseworker. They are also enrolled in classes and provided a school uniform.
"I'm blown away by the level of professional care of the staff at Youth for Tomorrow," says Rev. Graham, Prestonwood's pastor. "For them, caring for these children is a calling, not a job. We need to remember so many of the children have suffered trauma and abuse on their journey to our border, and they need us to show them love and compassion."
The evangelical council has expressed its opposition to separating children from their parents at the border, a policy that began under previous administrations and was halted by executive order June 20.
Rev. Johnnie Moore, a global champion of religious liberty who was recently appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, tells Newsmax that Trump's evangelical council has "clearly and publicly" expressed its opposition to separating children from parents at the border.
"We agree with the administration in that the only solution is comprehensive immigration reform," he adds, "which begins with a secure border which disincentives human trafficking and incentivizes people to seek asylum through legal means and legal points of entry. Comprehensive immigration reform would also address the bureaucratic challenges that make the process difficult for those who need it the most."
"What we saw today deserves to be celebrated, not criticized," Moore tells Newsmax. "The Trump administration, faith and community leaders have been working hand-in-hand, day-in and day-out, to provide compassionate care to these children. It is the best of America, and it was a beautiful privilege to serve them today. It is up to our political leaders to decide who can get into our country, but it's the responsibility of the church to serve those who do."
Evangelist Paula White, the senior pastor of Apopka, Florida-based New Destiny Christian Center, tells Newsmax that strong border security remains the key to ending the horrific practice of trafficking in children.
"Here's a fact: The Trump administration's commitment to strong borders is also a commitment to putting a stop to the human trafficking epidemic at our southern border," White said. "You wouldn't believe the stories of these children whose traffickers have exploited our open borders in order to fuel their mafia activity."
Often hailed as Trump's spiritual adviser, White says, while Christian love should be guiding light in nurturing the children who have already arrived, tough love should be practiced at the border to prevent further trafficking.
"The most compassionate thing we can do is enforce our immigration laws, strengthen the border, and prevent the smuggling of both people and drugs into our country," she says.
As the group was serving lunch they received an unexpected phone call – from first daughter Ivanka Trump.
After congratulating and thanking them for their efforts, Trump delivered an encouraging message: "If you need anything, call me. I'm only a phone call away."
In addition to serving food, the evangelical leaders helped set up playground equipment, passed out soccer balls, and then rushed off to their next destination – a similar facility in Miami where they ministered to more displaced children.
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