Response to comments in Spanish:
Fellow brother in Mexico ” it amazes me that you guys just mention this, the Church (especially in the north) is going through tough persecution; its a very big struggle but we definitely need your prayers; it is known that in many churches; the mafia comes after services to pick up their own “tithes and offerings” ..and so under the threat of murder or attacks many of them have lost relatives, businesses or even homes. Jesus is Lord.”
Dear Brother in Christ: Our office in Mexico was the first to inform the International VOM offices about the danger of drug cartel violence several years ago when no one anywhere wanted to listen. In the first presentation of the Director of Voice of the Martyrs in Mexico, October of 2008, the situation was specifically mentioned and we have discreetly mentioned the developing danger to evangelical believers and their pastors in varied Social Blogs, VOM Networks, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
We have seen all of this coming for more than 20 years. We have received reports since 2009 of evangelists fleeing, ministries thinking about leaving Mexico, and the increase of extortions in several states. HOWEVER, in each case where we received information, we were asked not to publish their information, but to lift them in prayer. We actually have another Director in Chihuahua, who is fully aware of the situation, and lives it as part of his daily experience.
Our interest has especially been in seeing the development of relations between the Mexican drug cartels and their Colombian connections… where hundreds of pastors, evangelists and believers have been killed for speaking out and continuing their labor in spite of the threats for years. Voice of the Martyrs publishes, encourages and reports not just people being threatened or in conflict… but those who no matter what the cost, follow and witness of Christ. You may contact the VOM USA office in Bartlesville Ok and ask them to send you the magazines touching on the situation in Colombia and reading about their manner of dealing with the threats.
We have seen the situation grow, bit by bit over the past 20 years, because churches and pastors didn’t take seriously the threat that was facing them. Keeping quiet… hoping it would go away, because it was too uncomfortable and truly dangerous to face those who were corrupting their society.
I myself have spoken out and done ministry in the nearby prison, not measuring my words… both of hope but also of conviction. I have neighbors who have been kidnapped, tortured, mutilated, and had their body parts strewn in different places. The first two young men decapitated in Mexico were young boys, neighbors when the Lord called me to Mexico. They also had heard the Gospel, but weren’t drawn to follow it.
The locals, young men between 12- 18 in my old neighborhood rejected the Gospel we shared with them when they were small kids… and had been left by their parents to grow up in the street, becoming child drug pushers… and then some of them on to become brutal killers.
In Mazatlan, many “good decent people” figured that the carnage would never reach them for being a tourist area… with even the municipal government publishing that tourism wouldn’t be affected by the violence… until now the daily carnage that even appears in broad daylight in the tourist “Golden Zone” is seen as part of everyday life. May the Lord watch over, guide, and protect the new mayor who has a heart for change and his people.
A well known legal advisor to many of the Religious Associations and Ministries such as Evangelical Rehab Centers attacked in Chihuahua has published complaints and warnings to alert the Body of Christ and authorities because of his close relactionship with them and contacts in the government; also Oscar Moha, journalist / spokesman for the persecuted church in Mexico City has published articles regularly for years on the subject.
We have not been given permission by any of our contacts to cite their cases. They quietly continue their work for the Lord, but with discretion.
We see a correlation between the assault on the northern / Border states and the armed conflicts in Chiapas both related to drug / arms / and a power play to take control of or to exert political authority over the country itself. It now no longer appears to be a money oriented business… but focused on power and political control.
Evangelicals or others with a strong Biblical value system do not fit in with the goals of these varied groups, be it Marxist Zapatista rebels, drug cartels, radical anarquists of whatever stripe.
But the true church is salt and light in a dark and danngerous world. And we are meant to be just that. The danger you face in the northern and border states is understood by your brothers and sisters in North Korea, China, Pakistan, Egypt, Cuba, Colombia especially, Sudan, Somalia and all the others who are not tolerated for the faith and values they share at all costs.
Forgive me, but what is probably the saddest point in the situation being faced in your area is that the church wasn’t prepared. Many of the churches have been blessed by their relations and support from churches and ministries in the USA… they have been the recipient of many blessings and ministry programs by those Americans who wanted to help in foreign missions and found it so practical and convenient sistering churches and ministries in Mexico close to the border.
Hermanos en Cristo Mexicanos y Americanos colaborando a su lado… no son olvidados.
Brothers and sisters in Christ… in the northern & border states and colaborating with them… you are not alone. You are prayed for by Christians around the world and have been represented in the VOM Voces Mexicanas DVD that came out last September 2010, and in our reports… but for your safety we have tried to be discreet and not draw attention to your danger publically.
Do not give up! Use the persecuted church testimonies as your example… your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do whatever they can to keep the church alive and ministering in the worst of situations… The Lord is by your side, the same as He is with them.
For those who speak Spanish… VOM Mexico is hoping to provide you also with the material that will encourage or guide you.
You not only are not alone, nor forgotten. Please keep your brothers and sisters in prayer in the central and southern parts of Mexico. The violence is spreading and the masacres are now being reported all around the republic, with small children as collateral damage being killed.
Also remember the Evangelical Heroes of the Faith in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Hidalgo… who have lived and exerienced the violence against them for decades… without the Body of Christ paying much attention to them for being Indigenas. The Zapatista Movement is not dead, but still very much alive and draws to it those who have always persecuted the evangelicals as carriers of a rival faith. There have been many reports published of dfferent groups collaborating with the various cartesl present in the southern states.
Remembering that Greater is He who is us… Romans 8: Mas Que Vencedores / More Than Conquerors, in this you can put your trust, doing what He has called you to do, be what He has ennabled you to become… Reflection of Christ to others.