An incredibly powerful story today, from our missionary in Mexico, Diana Garrett (names and specific locations have been changed for security reasons):
Last week we met the brothers of the persecuted Church in rural Mexico. Among those we went to visit, was a family that fled their community this year. I don’t think that I’ve seen so much poverty and malnutrition in children since I worked in the Nicaraguan refugee camp in 1984. One of the children has such severe malnutrition, that he seems to be two months instead of two years old. Several more have severe health problems, but can not afford to see the doctor. They are forced to pay rent that’s way too high, for a little house made of tin and wood.
And yet, amid all this, they shine because of their faith in Jesus Christ. A few months ago, the authorities of the indigenous community poured gasoline around a rustic wooden jail where the mother of the family was being held with her 11 year old son. They went through a whole box of matches trying to light the gasoline, but not one of them lit … God saved their lives. You can read the whole story, told by Fernando, the father in the publication below.
Apply what Scripture tells us in Hebrews 13: 3
Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Just like this story, we met another dozen in our five days in the area. And like them, there are hundreds of cases in seven other states of the Mexican Republic where Christians are facing tremendous persecution. In 2016, Mexico qualified in 38th place of the 50 countries where it is more dangerous to be a Christian. We need to get out of our indifference and remember the suffering, as if we were suffering with them.
Here is Fernando’s Story:
Firm in the faith and a manifestation of God’s love.
On August 16 2008, we became Christians. Because we, as a family, were following the word of God, our community became outraged. From that day, they have consistently worked together to pressure us, trying to make us leave. They convened 5 council meetings in a row, planning to remove all of our belongings and assets from the community. We told them that we will not leave the word of God because we know the living God; my wife and my children decided that we would not leave this path, and we would fight.
They changed the communal leadership in our district, which led to more formal meetings; each time with the intention of running us out, and stealing our possessions. In that same year, I even went to the Agrarian Land Management office to seek legal protection for our home. It was there that they began asking me to pay fines of $5000 pesos for each year when the Catholic holiday was celebrated, for the almost 8 and a half years that we have been in the Lord.
In this year, 2016, we finally left, expelled from our community.
There were several events which led up to this.
During a Catholic holiday, everybody in the community paid their money, all while giving us warnings, and trying to force me to cooperate in the celebrations. For safety, my wife and children decided to stay indoors. I believed that they would kill me if they found me, and so I left to a nearby community. Because I wasn’t there, they first imprisoned my 22 year old son for 24 hours, then my 14 year old son for 24 hours, then my 18 year old son for 24 hours, and finally my wife and 11 year old son, demanding a payment of a $6000 pesos for their release. I was struggling to find the money to pay them, and when my son tried to take it to the municipal agent, he didn’t release them; but only questioned our beliefs in God.
When the time had run out, and the fine had not been paid, they poured 20 liters of gasoline on the wooden prison, intending to burn my wife and son in the morning (about 4am). They used an entire a box of matches trying to light the gasoline, but it did not light, it was a Miracle of God!
My little boy started screaming and my wife said, “Son, don’t be afraid, do not be worried, let’s pray to God,” and it was then that the matches did not light. The ground was dry, because there had been no rain, and only for the blessing of God, it did not burn.
We left our community, but with all the money paid for fines each year, we now have very little money, and it’s difficult to rent a house.
As for me, I have been imprisoned 5 times for different lengths of time, with various fees being demanded for my release. I have been imprisoned for refusing to cut the electricity to our church, and falsely imprisoned when I was blamed for the effects of a lightning strike which damaged several wires and a transformer.
We left the community because we could no longer keep paying the fines every year. Right now they are telling us to return, but only if we return to the Catholic church, and if I serve 4 days in jail, paying a $3000 pesos fine. So, even though we are suffering greatly here, with barely enough for expenses, and very little food to eat, we cannot return.
Our sufferings are many. We are looking for work. My children have almost no clothes because we were cleaned out paying fines. We left to follow God. Our home in the community has been torn down. We brought our chickens and four horses with us, but they have since died. Paying rent and finding food to eat is very difficult. My 2 year old grandson has a problem in his abdomen. They operated, but he still cannot walk.
We left our community on June 19th.
We have decided to sell our rights to our parcel of land in the district, but they are only going to give us $30,000 pesos for our more than 22 hectares. With that money, we will meet some of our basic needs. We are a family of 16 people, including children.
For people who have hurt us, we only ask God to forgive them.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to this family, you can do so by donating to Diana Garrett, and attaching a note to your donation HERE.