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San Antonio man donates home to migrants with legal permission to stay in the U.S.

"Faith without deeds is dead. If you're really faithful, show it by how you live your life."

SAN ANTONIO — Far from the threat of her cartel-connected ex-husband in Honduras, Fernanda is trying to build a new life in San Antonio.

“My ex-partner told me that if I went with another person, he would go end my life and since I have a little girl with him, he was going to take her,” she told KENS 5.

Fernanda asked us to hide her face and change her name, so she could feel safer sharing her story.

“I was afraid for my daughters that they would lose their mother,” she said.

Fernanda’s been in the U.S. since this spring. She said an attorney helped her get a legal permission to stay. She said she recently got a work permit and is excited to see what’s next.

The one thing her family is not worried about is housing. Fernanda, her new husband and two daughters live in one part of a duplex for free.  

“I consider this my home now, even though the house is not mine,” Fernanda laughed.

The duplex belongs to Rafael Marfil. He’s never met Fernanda before. He said he was called to share what he had.

“Through prayerful consideration, it was placed on my heart that I could do something, I could help someone,” Marlfil said.

Marfil has a day job and also owns some properties he rents out.

“As a landlord, I'm programmed to 'how do I make money?' I'm not programmed 'how do I give space away,'” he said.

This spring, Marfil said he was talking to John Garland, a friend and pastor of the San Antonio Mennonite Church. Garland and his church work with asylum seekers.

“We were talking and he's like, ‘Gosh, I have this need.’ And so, I'm like, ‘you've got a need. And I've been blessed with the opportunities and so how can I help?’”

Marfil said the previous renter of this half of the duplex had just moved out after not paying for six months.

“My wife and I made a decision together to really honor our faith and provide the space,” Marfil said. “He [God] placed a question on my heart and the question was, ‘did you go without?’ And so, as I think about that answer was, ‘no, I didn't go without because you've kept me.”

Marfil said he freshened up the place and Fernanda moved in later in the spring.

“Just to say, ‘I care,’ or just to say, ‘I pray,’ when you can do more is our responsibility,” Marfil said. “If you truly believe that, then your actions ought to reflect that.”

Marfil said the space is Fernanda’s for as long as she needs it. She plays host to other migrant families needing a temporary place to stay. It's a source of great joy to a woman building a new life where she feels safe and happy.

“I feel happy doing what was once done for me,” Fernando said smiling. “I feel happy receiving other families.”

Fernanda didn’t have anyone staying with her when she spoke with KENS 5. She said families came for a short period of time before moving on to their next destination.