Voice of the Martyrs in Mexico opens new Training & Distribution Center

1VDLM / VOM in Mexico has moved it’s Sinaloa support office to a new building in the same neighborhood, but with better accomodations, security, and more economical. We are looking forward to the development of our northern Mexico team, serving the northern and central states of Mexico as a bridge between those who are actually experiencing religious persecution in the flesh in Mexico and the Body of Christ who should be sensitive and respond to their needs both in prayer and physically, … opening up opportunities to serve the persecuted body of Christ on both a national and international level.

Our team consists of Janeth, Adrianna, and Jorge being trained and mentored by Founder and General Ministry Director Linda Picard, and subject to the Administration and Board members in the Chiapas ASAP Base, which supplies both immediate and secondary attention to the persecuted Body of Christ in Mexico.

DSCF5354The office is equipped to receive volunteer groups and small groups for training sessions, distribute literature and materials for VOM sponsored and related activities, and to present VOM activities for Children, Youth, Women, Leadership, and general conferences relating to Biblical & persecution themes. Tuesday we will receive formally our first volunteer group in the new office, Women in the Breach / Hearts of Fire from the ICCVU (Villa Union Congregational Women’s group) with a brief introduction to our program and goals, and then proceed to the work at hand in fabricating crafts and materials for conferences and activities around the republic.

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Work is also progressing in the preparation of several VOM themes as monthly magazines, Jorge’s work to reach out to pastors and leaders, keeping them informed,  and involving their churches, alliances or ministry groups in the work.

VOM Mexico has in the past 2 years becomes the principal source of information about religious persecution in Mexico, specifically based on its field work and the relationships of trust formed through it’s immediate attention to threated groups and families, it’s programs of support and follow up, and the coordination of aid through the work of Luis Herrera.

Please feel free to contact us directly to learn more about religious persecution in Mexico itself or to learn more about supporting this ministry and it’s outreach and projects. Persecution in Mexico is rarely reported and is often least understood for its complexity… sadly because most presume that Mexico being “Christian” precludes the presence of such barbarities as massive expulsions of Evangelical Indigenas and non Indigenas, preaching the Gospel, group prayer, building churches, children denied their rights to an an education, government aid being denied, or fees and participation required of Protestant Christians for Roman Catholic and Tribal Traditionalist fiestas and celebrations.

We, working here in Mexico have a better understanding of the complications and problems faced, and the fact that the government and human rights organizations are not interested in responding.

Prayer Points:

  • Accomodation of Sinaloa C / D Center & the training of its staff
  • Preparation and Printing of VOM Monthly Magazines
  • Development of VOM ministerial and leadership relationships in the northern and central parts of Mexico
  • Development of sensitivity and interest in those who are actually persecuted for their faith in the regions attended by our new VOM Center.
  • Development of a deeper consciousness of the actual situation in Mexico, and an attitude of mutual respect between Catholics and Evangelicals.
  • DSCF5351Jorge, Director; Janeth, Office Manager; Salome, Maintenance; Adrianna, Crafts

 

 

 

November 2014: IDOP Around Mexico

This year we made a greater effort from our social network sites to promote IDOP: the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We had saw a reach extended to various nations in Latina America from Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and around Mexico, including in the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and Sonora to name a few. We are finding more and more Latinos are interested in Extreme Missions and the persecution in restricted or hostile areas. Many are paying close attention to reports about atrocities perpetrated against our Christian brethren, and the constant attacks against Christians in Nigeria, Pakistan, Siria and Irak in particular… and they want to know if what they are hearing is true or exaggerated… and how to respond. DSCF5324                            Villa Union Sinaloa… DSCF5346                            Mazatlan, Sinaloa DSCF4827                         Temas de IDOP 2014: Ten Misericordia sobre ellos Señor.

Enfoque en Siria; Las Jovencitas raptadas de Chibok, Nigeria; Irak; las familias de los jovenes deChibok; los niños y familias refugiados de Siria y Irak; Los encarcelados como Asia Bibi y Pastor Saeed; los que se sientan abandonados; Petra y los demas de Los LLanos en Chiapas; y los que no puedan adorar a Dios en iglesias, … por donde sean. DSC_0236Chiapas Mexico con Director Luis Herrera, Coordinadora Niños Valientes Lolita Hernandez y niños voluntarios. DSC_0168Eduardo Lopez de Buena Vista Grupo compartiendo en Iglesia Nazarena de Tuxtla Gutierrez. idop 3Equipo Voz de los Martires y afectados comparten sus propios testimonios en Tuxtla. idop 10 Prayer Points:

  • Concern and discernment on part of Latin American churches for their brethren who suffer for the sause of Christ.
  • Prayer and physical support for those brethren through organizations like VOM and missions.
  • For strenghth and grace of Spirit for those who personally experiment persecution for sharing and exercising their faith, to maintain their confidence and hope no matter what the cost, and in so doing win those to Christ who would persecute them.

Christian Organisations Call for International Pressure on Mexico Regarding Religious Freedom

  19/11/2014

Credit: Coordination of Christian Organizations of Chiapas

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) joins Impulso 18, Open Doors-Mexico and Voice of the Martyrs-Mexico in calling on the international community to hold Mexico to account on religious freedom issues.

The joint call follows last week’s national conference on freedom of religion and belief in Mexico City, which included testimony from victims of religious freedom violations and contributions from experts on the topic.

The conference coincided with a peaceful protest by communities who have been forcibly displaced because of their religious beliefs, and which began on 31 October in front of the government palace in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of the state of Chiapas. The protesters, including children and the elderly, are calling on the state government to address their cases as a matter of urgency. At least one of the affected communities has been displaced for more than five years.

Representatives from the protesting communities participated in the conference in Mexico City, organized by Mexican religious freedom organisation Impulso 18 and CSW. Fidel Lopez Hernandez of the Buenavista Bahuitz community, a group of 44 men, women and children who has been displaced since 23 July 2012, told those present at the conference that the government had shown little interest in resolving the case. No one from the town has been held to account for the arbitrary detention, physical violence and sexual assault which accompanied the forced expulsion of the Protestants.

Luis Herrera, Director of Voice of the Martyrs-Mexico, said, “Because of the way in which the different states in Mexico deal with cases of religious intolerance, we call on the different levels of government to pay special attention to find an immediate solution to these religious conflicts, especially considering the length of time some of these cases have gone on. This includes the State of Chiapas, which leads in terms of numbers of cases due to a reluctance to make significant decisions to tackle the root of the problem. We call on the government to develop the appropriate policies and to appoint capable civil servants, who will promote a message of tolerance in all communities for a healthy co-existence.”

Humberto Bayon, Director of Open Doors-Mexico said, “As coordinator of Open Doors in Mexico, the conference to which our entire team and representatives were kindly invited opened to us up a wider perspective on the issue of religious intolerance. While our organisation focuses mainly on our ‘family of faith’ (Galatians 6:10), it was refreshing to learn from the speakers and academics that one should not be tolerant of intolerance. For our team, learning how to use the mechanisms for appeal in international institutions like the United Nations and the European Union was the most worthwhile of that which we received during these days together.”

Dr Jorge Lee Galindo, President of Impulso 18, said, “Systematic religious freedom violations at all levels have been endemic in Mexico for centuries. Some of the most egregious are the forced expulsions of members of minority faiths, often accompanied by violence and the violation of other rights, including access to water and to an education, which occur mostly in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Puebla. Rather than seeking to uphold the constitutional rights of these citizens, the government has tended to pursue extra-legal agreements that often result in the continued violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. There is little political will in Mexico, on the state or federal levels, to properly address and resolve these cases; therefore we believe that international pressure and focused attention on the issue is key.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “It is unacceptable that in a modern and diverse democracy like Mexico these types of serious religious freedom violations continue to take place on a regular basis, affecting thousands of men, women and children, with no adequate response from the Mexican government at any level. We call on members of the international community, including the European Union and the United States, to actively monitor the religious freedom situation in Mexico and to hold the government to account under its obligations in the treaties to which it is party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Cultural, Social and Economic Rights – as a matter of urgency. Communities like that of Buenavista Bahuitz cannot afford to wait any longer for their rights to be upheld.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Law of Uses and Customs, which is in effect in many parts of the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Puebla and Guerrero, gives significant autonomy to indigenous communities. It is meant to be exercised in line with the fundamental human rights protections in the Mexican Constitution and international treaties to which Mexico is party; however, this is rarely enforced. Local leaders frequently try to enforce community uniformity in terms of religious practice and belief, compelling members of the community to participate in the religious activities of the majority or face punishment. Violations range in severity, but in the absence of government intervention, and because of a failure to hold the perpetrators to account, they all too often escalate to the point of destruction of property, arbitrary detention, forced displacement and violence.
  2. For more information see CSW’s report on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Mexico.

PS: Voice of the Martyrs Mexico works in the field and is the direct source for the majority of cases in Mexico. Work is done through the following programs:

  • Immediate Attention and Mediation
  • Women in the Breach and Family Workshops Vocational Training / Projects
  • Locos por Jesus Youth
  • Kids of Courage
  • Blessings and Humanitarian Aid

We are a Mexican national office of VOM which means we are self sustaining, receiving donations and offerings fronorganizations and the Body of Christ. It is no small accomplishment to do so in Latin America. You may make donations to the above programs through deposits to:

Name: MINISTERIOS VDLM VOM MEXICO, A.C.

Acct #: 0196498256 

Bank: BBVA BANCOMER S.A.

Swift: BCMRMXMMPYM    

ABA: 21000021

CLABE: 012130001964982561  

Number and Name of branch / Sucursal: 4439 – SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS

Feedback on March of Evangelicals in Chiapas / Oct 31st

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One day after the Evangelicals marched on the capital of Chiapas, we are just beginning to hear and see what the effect was. Would you believe that in the early morning hours, at least 2 well known Evangelicals published favorable interviews lauding the state government for the advances it has made in the area of religious intolerance and actual persecution? Now, honestly, how does that look?  You have to ask:

  • Are these Evangelicals deceived by their own good relationships and what they have seen by government officials?
  • Are these Evangelicals bought and paid for by the state government or self interested political figures?
  • What would make or drive an Evangelical to be used this way when over 1000 people, principally Indigenas actually personally affected marched and expressed their pain in front of the government offices?
  • Would they have the courage to present themselves and face those brothers in Christ that they have betrayed by denying them, as Christ was denied by Peter?  How many times in the past have they denied their brethren?
  • What type of government would prefer to lie and manipulate Evangelical leaders than actually do what needs to be done to resolve the active cases, and change the system so that religious tolerance could actually take place?
  • What type of government advises its functionaries not to respond to a march of 1000 peaceful and humble people with real grievances of neglect, sabotaging their cases, and accusing them of protecting their own vested interests?
  • What type of government tells people that there were only 300 marchers that were there, and doesn’t let their own Secretary of State or the Governor know what is happening?
  • What type of governor allows his cabinet and functionaries to do what they wish without accountability?
  • Where were the rest of the Body of Christ, while some of their leaders marched with the persecuted church?
  • Where were the rest of the Pastors and leaders of the Evangelical community?
  • Why in the capital of the state do people not know that there are 70 cases of religious persecution and over 1400 people affected, not all Indigenas, but also various mestizo (Mexican) congregations expelled or persecuted? (Yashtinin and Matamoros to name 2).

DSCF4999The group from Buena Vista, waiting more than 3 years for a resolution other than packing up and allowing themselves to be re-located, is planting itself in the park in front of the government offices. They have already had several services with preaching and worship there! Pastor Josue, leader of one of the largest denominations in the state, returned to spend the night, encouraging them throughout the night. Other groups are stopping by to visit them, some bringing blankets, sweaters, cooked food, and also to leave them with words of encouragment. Other affected groups  are scheduling days or nights to spend with the Buena Vista group… because they are becoming one, as they are meant to be, despite language and cultural differences between one group and another.

  • How is it that the state government has for so long and so badly underestimated the endurance and strength of the humble Evangelicals, even when their leadership betrays them?
  • How is it that the state government preferred and decided to divide and conquer, by offering commissions, benefits, money, material possesions and political positions to Evangelicals , and thought they could always depend on following this same pattern of corruption and abuse?
  • How is it that the government functionaries haven’t realized that their neglect of duty, favoritism, and corruption will someday come to an end, and they will be judged both here and later on by a judge who can not be deceived or bought and paid for?
  • How is it that Evangelical leaders do not fear the Lord, who sees their actions, and knows their hearts?
  • Repent… those of you who are truly part of the Body of Christ, while you can! And while it can make a difference! You are being lifted in prayer along with the persecutors…

DSCF5013People passing by are reading the banners, asking questions, and beginning to read the Bible with them. Several government officials have stopped by to convince them to pick up and go home, trusting the government to do it’s job. The persecuted no longer trust their government, nor it’s officials, with the exception of a few. The Religious affairs office, and the regional directors are pretty much discredited in their eyes, for their personal experience dealing with them for at least several years.

If the state government is not up to it’s job, then they are willing to take their testimonies to a national and international level. They now know in their hearts that their trust is in the Lord… not in any government official or agency. They are drawing closer together, being strenghthened as a body, growing in their faith.

Please continue to lift them in prayer… several will be testifying in Mexico City next week, in a national forum about religious persecution in Chiapas, and others on an international level. They continue to lift in prayer those who have persecuted them, the government that has failed them, and one another. I invite you to join them in prayer and lift your voice to share their concerns and needs as you prepare to celebrate IDOP in your church this year.

March of 1000+ Evangelicals in support of Persecuted Brethren in Chiapas Mexico

DSCF4996The Persecuted Church in Chiapas, supported by the presence and participation of more than 1000 persons, many from the varied persecuted groups themselves, Friday, October 31st in their march in the capital: Tuxtla Gutierrez. A Voice was heard for the almost 70 cases documented just in Chiapas alone. The march began at 9:30 am, with groups who began their making their way to the capital from different points around the state at 3 am and were accompanied for the day long event by local churches in Tuxtla and from San Cristobal.

DSCF5010The groups representing all those persecuted in the state stated that God’s heart is in Chiapas, and lifted their authorities to Him in prayer during the day, and asked them, especifically the governor, to do what is just, and respect their rights.

DSCF5058The governor was not present, and the groups refused to speak again with Religious Affairs and government officials who have patently ignored them, or actively blocked the resolution of cases since 2008.

DSCF4989The event was planned and organized over a month ago by Luis Herrera, President of Ministerios VDLM-VOM Mexico known as Voice of the Martyrs Mexico, his wife Maria Dolores Hernandez, as Coordinator of Kids of Courage VOM Mexico,( with Pastor Oscar of Matamoros) and the collaboration through Coordinacion Organizaciones Cristanas of the groups affected and a number of organizations, ministries and churches… including: Open Doors, the Council of Evangelical Churches in Chiapas, the Confraternity of Evangelical Churches in Chiapas, various Pastors Alliances in San Cristobal de las Casas where there are several cases , Huixtan where persecution is still common, Teopisca municipality where many persecuted were re located in the past 30 years, and Comitan, which has seen both cases of persecution and been a place of refuge for those fleeing aggressions.

DSCF4992Pastor Clever, one of the more faithful voices and forces in support of the perscuted brethren with several of the brothers from the group in Mariano Matamoros… community no Indigena, beseiged and threatened constantly by their local authorities. Also indespensable is Pastor Josue and his congregations around the state, busy in attending to the practical needs like feeding all gathered there, and the Buena Vista group with plans on camping out in front of the governor’s office until he finds time to talk with them.

The day was disheartening as far as waiting to see some vestige of interest on the government’s part, but blessed in fellowship and encouraging one another. it is unusual for different ethnic groups to unite, passing over language and cultural differences… In Christ we are all united, and the time spent together was a day of being concerned for one another and rejoicing as ONE Family in Christ.

No action taken sincerely, and looking to glorify our God is in vain. All knew that our God is moving and working in the Heavens that which needs attention here in their humble lives.

DSCF4976Humberto (Director OD) with the group from Buena Vista.

 

Prayer Alert: New Case in Pantelho, Chiapas

chiapasIn reference to: Voz de los Martires en Mexico

What is the reason for the increase in cases in Chiapas? Even though government sources say ” it isn’t so” ?

In the township of Sepelton, in the municipality of Pantelho,  15 Evangelical families had their water cut for not participating in the Catholic religious festival to celebrate the patron saint of the community. The local authorities claimed that the Evangelicals themselves were “in agreement” to have their water cut, however they neglected to explain that the authorities had given them the choice of paying and participating in the Catholic festival, or having their water cut. 
It’s now been 20 days without water; will we see them going from gov’t office to gov’t office to find someone who will attend to their case? Or will they actually tell them, as so many have heard, that it is their own fault for not participating in the Catholic festival even though they are NOT Catholic Or even worse, will the government deny that there is a case, or call it anything but religious persecution?  such as a familiy, land, or political problem?
We hope that this information will come forth in the next few days, but at least for now, We can thank God for the rainy season that the Evangelicals are taking advantage of, to store water for their basic needs meantime.
Luis Herrera of VDLM-VOM Mexico, known in mediation circles as Coordinacion Organizaciones Cristianas (Coordination of Cristian Organizations) explains: Coordinacion Organizaciones Cristianas  It is a cyclical theme, every year when the Catholic Patron Saint’s Festivals come around, the pressure towards Evangelical groups is right around the corner as well.
*LJP of VDLM-VOM : Until the roots of the problem are attended to, and the community authorities and key figures of the Roman Catholic church recognize the innate and Constitutional rights of freedom to choose and exercise one’s faith… this will keep on repeating itself. Unfortunately, the Mexican government- on all levels- is not interested in protecting the rights of Evangelical Christians who have little economical or political influence.

 

Jesus Freaks / Locos por Jesus Dramas: We will cut off your feet!

DSC_0179Youth from San Cristobal de las Casas church groups attended their first Locos por Jesus / Jesus Freaks meeting, and were presented with the task of presenting an improvised drama from the VOM Jesus Freaks book. This group, along with their pastor, took on the testimony of a youth who was threatened with having his feet cut off if he continued with his evangelizing efforts in the region.

DSC_0188Each group was allowed to scavenge in the VOM Base looking for anything to use as part of their costumes or accesories. How did they do?

DSC_0189We did’t have a bike to lend them, but otherwise they did fairly well.

DSC_0246The youth in the story braved bad weather, difficult terrain, and the threats of muslim radicals that told him he would have to stop coming into their regions or they would stop him: by cutting off his feet! You will have to look it up in the book to see how it ended… Through enacting the drama, the youth involved and their pastor gained a better idea of what it must have been like for the young man who actually lived the experience in person.

These young people probably have a better idea than most what it would be like since many of their parents or friends have been through similar experiences in Chiapas. For those who may have distanced themselves, and become comfortable where they are at, it was a lesson in not fogetting others who are persecuted for their faith.