Prayer Alert: Persecuted Evangelical Groups Marching in Chiapas October 31st

DSC_0040Photos from April 2014: March of Bible Heroes in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas; The children and teens of families persecuted for their faith and expelled from their communities had been invited to participate in a Childrens Day activity in the capital, and were prepared to express their thoughts and needs to government officials.  Some of the kids are members of groups that VOMC taped in December of 2009, for the Mexican Voices video.

DSC_0052 The Evangelical members of the communities of Chilil, Yashtinin and Buena Vista were present, marching in the Children’s Parade,  with the idea of sharing something of their testimonies and afterwards to speak with someone from the governor’s office about their situation.

Many of them have lost their schooling for several years… while they have also had to learn to speak Spanish and to accomodate themselves to a new urban culture.

DSC_0065 The government officials rejected abruptly the idea of receiving the children and youth, although they themselves are well known for their tendency for photo ops with kids in their publicity and campaigning: when it is convenient for them. One of the officials even commented that they could accuse the Evangelicals of manipulating the kids for their own agenda. 

Where is the so called respect or concern for the Children’s Declaration of Rights  when kids want to speak for themselves instead of waiting for politicians do it for them?

DSC_0082 Many of the young participants are now youth, and have been training as Sunday School Teachers or for VBS teachers in VOM Mexico’s program CAP / ED this past year.

They have proven themselves to be very capable, and having learned to speak Spanish are able to express their own needs!

DSC_0084 With this same voice and capacity they are able to share and teach the Word of God, sing to and praise the Lord, cry out about the injustices in their communities, and question the apathy of the government when it concerns the religious rights of Evangelical Indigenas.

This Friday the 31st of October, they will not be marching alone… they will be accompanied by their families, their churches, Pastors from the Chiapas Alliances, and their friends in Christ. 

Remembering the Day of the Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed his theses to the doors of the Roman Catholic Cathedral almost 500 years ago, Evangelicals in Chiapas will march peacefully and respectfully, to draw the attention of a government which has in general not shown them much consideration or respect. And where the majority church has received preference where it should not.  And if the governor and his officials continue to ignore their cries, they will raise their voices on a  national level, and through their brothers and sisters in Christ on the international level in Mexico City next week, through those who are their voices where they have not been heard before.

They know that Almighty God hears them, and that He has no favorities, is not concerned about winning their votes, nor receiving gifts. They know He is not deceived , that He can not be bought, but that He is just and looks on them with affection, humble as they are, and understands their petitions to just return to their homes, to live and share their faith as it is their right.

The groups are carrying 12 municipal banners representing regions where religious persecution is still prevalent. And the Buena Vista group has decided to stay and camp out in front of the Governor’s mansion until he can give them a return date, or show reasonable progress in a supervised return to their community. Their decision is based on increased agressions suffered in the past few weeks from their community authorities and the obvious interference and colusion of government officials with them.

Please keep all in your prayers: the persecuted, the government officials and the community authorities themselves.

 

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Chiapas: where most documented cases of religious persecution in Mexico occur

28Religious persecution has long been documented in the southern state of Chiapas, with concentrations being in the municipalities of Chamula, Zinacantan, San Cristobal de las Casas, Huixtan, Las Margaritas, Comitan, La Trinitaria, Altamirano, and Ocosingo with cases also being reported in Carranza, Palenque, and Tila amongst others.

chilil sisiter dool mini                        (Chilil Huixtan)

Typically the cases occur in Indigena communities but not always. Two cases, one in Yashtinin, and the other in Matamoros are not Indigenous communities.

DSCF4526                     (Matamoros, Carranza)

The problems usually occur when former Catholic members leave their local church to exercise their newfound Evangelical faith, and begin rejecting former practices and beliefs… and also what their communitiy requires of them that specifically relates to religious practices: either traditionalist or Catholic.

Men accused of attempted homicide in San Gregorio. 2 are imprisoned, and 4 others in hiding while their cases is presented by Esdras Alonso.                     (San Gregorio y San Antonio / Zitim in Huixtan)

Most know there will be a price to pay, and that they will be persecuted for the life changing decision they have taken on. Tribal or community identity is tied to tribal animistic rituals and the Catholicism mixed with them, or what is called folklore / popular Catholicism, and also to the attempts by the Catholic arch-diocese and paroquial authorities and catequists to bring Indigena communities into line with traditional Roman Catholic teaching.

LA Florecilla (2)                     (La Florecilla in San Cristobal de las Casas)

There are now up to 70 documented cases in Chiapas, not resolved or attended to,   and others that were left with loose ends.

chiapas

 

 

Blast from the Past 2013 and Update 2014: New Evangelical Alliance in Huixtan Holds 1st ever March in Huixtan, Chiapas

New Evangelical alliance in Huixtan Hold 1st ever March in Huixtan, Chiapas

2013. A new alliance of some 12 protestant church groups held their first ever Evangelical march and crusade in Huixtan Chiapas last weekend. Pastor Severino here, was expelled over 20 years ago from his community, and his church destroyed. The man responsible asked for his forgiveness several months ago, and opened the door for the work to begin again. Please keep these brothers and their congregations in prayer… for wisdom and discernment in sharing the Good News in such a way that gains souls and mutual respect, and not more violence against them.

UPDATE 2013-2014:  both directors of VOM Mexico began attending the Huixtan Alliance monthly meetings, and in this manner both forged relationships with many of the municipal pastors and their congregations, and for 2013 developed community projects using our Family Workshop Leader Veronica, and complemented with the Kids of Courage Leader Lolita, making our monthly community visits a team VOM project. Communities visited on a regular basis were Lopez Mateo, Chempil, San Antonio, San Gregorio, and Zitim.

The Alliance progressed with a few bumps in the road during the year… habits of intolerance and impunity are hard to let go of. This past year the Alliance asked for permission for their second march and Evangelistic campaign in the center of town, which was granted begrudgingly. All appeared to go well, although there was an atmospshere of tenseness. We learned that the second day, the parish priest went to see the Religious Affairs Director in the city, armed with petitions from the Catholic Church, and some of their prominent citizens to insist that the permission be cancelled since the Catholic authorities deemed the Evangelistic Campaign an afront, and claimed it wouldn’t be responsible for the violence it was sure to cause. Thankfully, the government official in the office at the time, denied the exisitence of any legitimate authority aside from those elected and lectured the priest and his people about the constitutional rights of religious freedom. It was a first, and a very welcome step. The government official deserves recognition for doing the job designated, inspite of pressure from superiors in Religious Affairs, but given the situation and the risk it would represent, we would ask you to keep this person in prayer for continued courage and blessing.

The cases in the municipality still have not been resolved and the fact that the EZLN is again moving its autonomous communities to protest various government programs means that the situation remains delicate, until the problem is treated at it’s roots. The autonomous communities use their afiliation with the EZLN (Zapatista Movement) for their convenience in excluding Evangelicals from their communities.

The unresolved cases are Chilil with 30+ persons, expelled since November of 2009, and covered in Greg Mussulman’s book: “Closer to the Fire”, and the communities of San Gregorio and Zitim which we work with through a Reconciliation Project for women with the donation of sewing machines from the VOMC office.

 

 

Blast from the Past VOM Mexico: Los LLanos Group Living in Exile Still

SEEN HERE ARE THE MAJORITY OF INDIGENA EVANGELICAL BELIEVERS WHO WERE EXPELLED FROM THEIR COMMUNITIES OF LOS LLANOS AND SAN GREGORIO IN CHIAPAS, MEXICO AFTER THEY WERE ATTACKED BY NEIGHBORS , THEIR HOUSES DESTROYED, WATER AND LIGHTS CUT, AND DISPOSSESSED OF ALL THEIR BELONGINGS, LAND, ANIMALS, AND CROPS.

AUTHORITIES IN LOS LLANOS ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF SAN CRISTOBAL, AND SAN GREGORIO IN HUIXTAN WHO OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR AFILIATION WITH THE ZAPATISTA MOVEMENT AND THEIR POLITICAL WING, LA OTRA CAMPAÑA, BELIEVE THAT THEIR INDIGENOUS CUSTOMS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER THE MEXICAN CONSTITUTION, AND THAT ALL THEIR INHABITANTS MUST NOT ONLY SUPPORT THE MORE THAN A DOZEN TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS BUT ALSO PARTICIPATE IN THE PAGAN RITUALS COMBINED WITH CATHOLIC RITES, THE ALCOHOLIC DRINKING AND IN GIVING OFFERINGS TO THEIR GODS AND SAINTS, AND IN PAYING A CUOTA FOR EACH MALE 14 YEARS OLD AND UP.

THIS IS A HARDSHIP FOR EVANGELICALS WHO ARE NO LONGER PRACTICERS OF THE MAJORITY FAITH, AND WANT TO EXERCISE AND LIVE THEIR OWN.

THE GOVERNMENT ON ALL LEVELS HAS FAILED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE EXISTS, MUCH LESS RESPOND TO THE LEGITIMATE COMPLAINTS OF BELIEVERS THREATENED, DENIED LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL BENEFITS, WHO HAVE THEIR CHILDREN DENIED A PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION, LOSE THE TENANCY OF THEIR LANDS , THE BENEFIT OF THE CROPS THEY SOWED, THEIR CATTLE OR SHEEP, HOUSES, HAVE THEIR CHURCHES TORN DOWN OR BURNED,  OR ARE FACING EXPULSION… AND EVEN DEATH, AS HAD 4 CHRISTIANS  WHO WERE  EXECUTED IN THE PAST 6 MONTHS.

EVEN AFTER FORMAL COMPLAINTS ARE MADE TO THE NATIONAL COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT RESPONDED, AND DOES ALL POSSIBLE TO AVOID HAVING TO COMPLY WITH THE NCHR RECOMMEDATIONS… TAKING AS LONG AS MINIMALLY 18 MONTHS AND MORE, IF EVER TO RESPOND. THE SITUATION HAS NOT CHANGED…

THE ROOTS OF INTOLERANCE AND HATRED ARE THE SAME, WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND MAJORITY CHURCH IGNORING, FACILITATING OR EVEN PROMOTING THE SITUATION.

REGRETTABLY THE VOICE OF THE EVANGELICALS IS DROWNED OUT BY RADICAL SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS, AND THOSE WHO MATTER MORE AS BLOCKS OF VOTES TO THE POLITICIANS.

SOME EVANGELICAL ALLIANCES AND LEADERSHIP HAVE TRIED TO GAIN THE GOVERNMENT’S FAVOR, INFLUENCE OR RESOURCES , BY KEEPING A LOW PROFILE, OR EVEN BY DENYING THAT INTOLERANCE EXISTS… SEVERAL GROUPS HAVE ACTUALLY PUBLISHED OR STATED FORMALLY THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS RESOLVED ALL CASES, IN A TIMELY FASHION, AND THAT RELIGIOUS PERSECUCTION NO LONGER EXISTS… JUST FAMILY DISAGREEMENTS.

THIS IS BOTH A DISSERVICE TO THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST WHO SUFFER IN THE NAME OF CHRIST, AND MUST BE AN OFFENSE IN THE SIGHT OF OUR LORD HIMSELF…

PLEASE KEEP MEXICO AND HER PERSECUTED BROTHERS IN YOUR PRAYERS AS THE COMING ELECTIONS AND JOCKEYING BETWEEN POLITICAL PARTIES, EVANGELICAL MINISTRIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS PROMOTE THEIR PROPAGANDA AT COST TO THE EVANGELICALS STUCK IN THE MIDDLE.