Unity El Paso minister Diana Isaac cried softly as she talked about the worship center she helped establish in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico—one of the top 10 most violent and dangerous cities in the world outside of war zones, according to several travel advisory think tanks.
The tears Diana sheds, however, are not of sadness or remorse, only joy. Three years ago, Diana and fellow Unity El Paso minister, Leiris Morillo, saw beyond the danger and envisioned a city that needed a message of peace, prayer, and change.
“We answered a call to serve. We have a light, and our main purpose is to bring that light to Juárez,” Leiris said.
Giving birth to the Unity movement in Juárez was not pain free. Leiris and Diana have made many personal and financial sacrifices to bring a weekly moment of tranquility to the people in this struggling city. Initially, seven people led the charge to begin holding services in Juárez. Fearing the violence, many at Unity El Paso voiced concerns about their lead and associate minister traveling across the border.
Diana and Leiris conducted their first service in Juárez on August 15, 2009. Fifty worshippers attended that first gathering. Since then, the weekly services have held steady at 12 to 15 followers and grown to include monthly fiestas where Unity followers and their guests come together in fellowship.
“The people in our sister city love our presence there, and they really practice many of the Unity principles,” Diana said. “We often take large amounts of free Unity books and materials to the people of Juárez. They are hungry for the materials that Unity has to offer.”
Building and sustaining these relationships requires a huge time commitment. Although El Paso and Juárez are sister cities connected by four bridges, it oftentimes takes up to three hours to go through customs in Juárez. The two meet such time constraints with devout faith.
“It’s such a blessing. God has brought us to a whole new level of service,” said Diana. “Our calling to serve and bring the light is above any state issuance or travel advisory.”
Despite going into one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Leiris and Diana are never afraid. They prepare themselves through prayer before coming and going, and they bless everyone along the way. Diana, who is from Colombia, and Leiris, who was born in the Dominican Republic, explain that they became accustomed to drug cartel violence in their own cultures growing up.
“Are we making a difference? I don’t know, but we are bringing change by giving the people who come a new energy and seeing a difference in their lives,” said Leiris. “We shine a light on the goodness and things are beginning to shift. We see more people out walking on the streets and feeling a little bit safer.”
“The excitement of that first service is still there each time we come to the center in Juárez,” Diana said. “When we go, we bring truth concepts and they get it. I get emotional because, for me, it’s like a baby. It is a pure joy to serve in this capacity and be embraced by people,” she added. “They are so grateful when we come. I never thought I’d be involved in something as great as this. You never know where God is going to take you.”
Like the song they sing at every Unity service, “Amor Por Juárez (Send Love to Juarez),” Diana and Leiris are dedicated to bringing love and peace to a city desperately in need of unity.