For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church and I invite you to join me.
While the problems Mexico faces with corruption and violence are well known, most people don’t think of it as a country where Christians are persecuted. However, Mexico is number 38 on Open Doors Watch List and is designated a country of moderate persecution.
From Open Doors:
Mexico’s appearance (first time in three years) on the World Watch List is explained mainly by the progression of organized crime in the country and the recording of more violent incidents targeting Christians. Criminal organizations and drug cartels have targeted Christians because they view churches as revenue centers (extortions) and because churches support programs for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics. Local communities in the southern states of Mexico are led by the indigenous traditional law of “uses and customs” to force all community members into a homogenous lifestyle. As soon as community members accept a different religion, the law of “uses and customs” becomes the noose that threatens their very existence.
Voice of the Martyrs highlights one pastor being persecuted for his faith.
Local authorities in Chiapas, Mexico, recently issued an official warning to Pastor Antonio Cruz Rodas, ordering him to stop evangelizing in the area. Pastor Rodas has also received death threats.
Authorities issued the pastor a document reading, “Today we strongly state total prohibition of access to people that profess any religion different than the one in our community.”
Most people in the area practice “folk Catholicism,” a syncretistic blend of Catholicism and indigenous practices. Pastor Rodas says he is not afraid of being killed, and VOM contacts have asked that we pray for his continued ministry in this hostile area. Three families in the area have come to faith in Christ, and the pastor has planted two churches in communities similar to this one.
- For the reduction of organized crime and for the government to use all of its resources to bring criminals to justice
- For the indigenous people in the municipality of Chiapas who have been driven out of their homes and are targets of discrimination
- Praise God for the release of several Christians from prison who have served approximately 17 years on false charges in the Acteal case
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