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Persecution Watch: Prayer for Colombia, Mexico and Cuba

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 in a conference prayer call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch. 

The Lord put the persecuted countries in the West on my heart; namely, Colombia, Mexico, and Cuba.

The vast majority of people in Mexico and Colombia claim to be Christians. However, many blend paganistic religions with Christianity.

Christians in many parts of Mexico and Colombia are persecuted by rebel groups who exploit the people. True Christians will not go along with their evil schemes and are persecuted for it.

The people in Cuba are persecuted by the atheistic government. 65 percent of the population identifies as Christian.

Pray for Colombia and Mexico:

  • We cannot serve two masters; pray for those claiming and thinking to be Christians but are not.  
  • Pray for the NGOs and others who distribute Bibles.
  • Pray that God’s Word would reach all people groups, such as the Tzalzl and Chol people in Mexico.
  • Pray for pastors in the “red zones” of Colombia and Mexico; they would stand their ground, be encouraged, be protected from guerrillas and drug and arms dealers.
  • Give church leaders wisdom, knowledge and understanding on how to deal with rebel and criminal groups who make their living with illegal activity.
  • Pray for those sharing the gospel in guerrilla-controlled areas; for displaced pastors sharing gospel in new communities.
  • Pray for widows and children of murdered pastors, restoration, provision, and peace.
  • Pray for teachers reaching out to children from minority ethnic groups.
  • Pray for Christian converts in villages where an indigenous faith is practiced, against confiscation of property, imprisonment, physical harm.
  • Pray that believers kicked out of their communities would remain strong in their faith. 
  • Pray for a strong government without corruption who allow criminal groups to continue; pray for Christians in government.

Cuba: (if time permits)

  • Pray God’s Word would go throughout Cuba, even the most extreme areas, and people would have a hunger for it.
  • Pray for Christian leaders who are being harassed, threatened with prison; pray they would not give in to threats.  (Acts 4)
  • Pray for pastors pressured to provide the government with information regarding church leaders.
  • Pray that church leaders would have wisdom in speaking and sharing the Word.
  • Pray for parents who were arrested for trying to remove children from communist indoctrination at school.
  • Pray for thousands of churches at risk of being demolished and for the ones that have already been demolished.

Pray for the Harvest!

Valerie, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Photo: Colombia, San Agustin, Iglesia Church by Makalu

Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in Mexico

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday October 7, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Mexico: Population: 133.8 million, Christians 128.2 (96 %)

Technically speaking, Mexico’s Constitution offers freedom of religion at least on paper, but Christians on the ground report federal authorities are unable or unwilling to uphold these promised protections.

The increasing presence of criminal groups and their struggle for territorial control create an environment where Christians—and particularly Christian leaders—face the constant risk of being targeted for violence. Christians are perceived as a threat to criminal activities because they oppose corruption and drug use, or because they explicitly reject any demands or requests of criminal organizations. Christians who are outspoken about the hope of Jesus in the face of drug trafficking and violence are often targeted by gangs to remove any obstacle in their quest for control.

In the indigenous communities, anyone who decides to abandon the community’s religious beliefs or syncretistic practices often faces rejection and punishment in the form of fines, incarceration or forced displacement.

Finally, there has been an increase in violent and discriminatory acts against Christians by people who believe Christians are bigoted, xenophobic, or opposed to women’s rights. Churches have been attacked and graffitied by protestors, and reports on the ground suggest openness to Christian ethics in the public sphere is decreasing, even though Mexico is supposed to value pluralism.

“There have been missionaries that have gone up to the mountain areas and have come back down regretting it. The closer you get to what people in those areas call ‘hot spots,’ life becomes much more difficult. You risk your life and the lives of your loved ones. While I was there, I heard so many sad stories.

Mexico shot up the 2021 World Watch List after being outside of the top 50 entirely last year. This is likely due to the rise in illegal activity that directly challenges Christians and Christian teaching. Drug traffickers and gangs retaliate against and target Christian leaders for opposing their criminal activities, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, their control over parts of Mexico has strengthened. Similarly, indigenous communities that oppose Christian converts have strengthened their autonomy during the coronavirus crisis, leading to increased difficulty for these followers of Jesus. And finally, Mexican society seems to be increasing its commitment to secularism instead of pluralism. Often, Christian viewpoints are not welcome in the public sphere.

Criminal networks have spread throughout Mexico. Although there are still two main cartels in Mexico, there are others—at least 17 criminal groups—that have a significant presence in the country. That doesn’t include the new or fragmented groups, who also persecute Christians because they perceive Christians as threats to their group’s interests. Persecution against Christians inside indigenous communities occurs particularly in the southern part of the country. And the rejection of Christian viewpoints in the public square is increasingly an issue throughout Mexico.

  • Pray the Lord will convict Government leaders to be proactive and willing to protect Christians from persecution, especially because of their moral beliefs.
  • Pray for Christian leaders who risk so much to serve their church communities in places where they are the targets of organized criminals. Ask God to spare them from violence and to care for their entire family and church in dealing with the violence and trauma.
  • Pray for Christians who convert out of their community’s belief system. Pray for a softening of hearts among local leaders, and that Christians would be safe and able to be a light for Christ’s hope in the middle of a dark situation.
  • Pray that the Lord’s hand of protection is on His believers who in spite of the hostile climate share the Gospel.
  • Pray that the Lord will use the Bible to powerfully strengthen and encourage and nourish the lives of believers.
  • Pray to the Lord to give the government the ability to control and subdue the drug Lords and traffickers
  • Pray for Christians struggling to see how they fit into Mexican society. Ask God to give them compassion and courage, as they risk their lives and livelihood to walk in faith.
  • Pray that Missionaries and NGO servants are given wisdom and protection in covert ministry work.
  • Pray that the believers sense God’s presence and mature in faith.
  • Pray that Christians can love and forgive their persecutors.
  • Pray that the Lord will prompt unbelievers to be confronted with convicting messages.  
  • Pray that The Lord will open the doors wide to evangelism and that the church will be the light on the Hill to the people who walk in darkness.

Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord: 

  • Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
  • Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
  • Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
  • For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?

Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.

We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Christian Family Takes Refuge in Mountains after Expulsion from their Home in Mexico

Pastor Mario Choj visits Pérez family in Mitontic, Chiapas, Mexico. (Morning Star News photo courtesy of Federico Sarao)

“To follow Christ is beautiful. It doesn’t matter if we have to live in suffering, persecution and contempt from our village. Everyone in the family says that to live close to God is a blessing, and we delight in the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.”

(Morning Star News) – Miguel Pérez Díaz, his eight children and 87-year-old father have been living in a mountainside shack since May, when local officials expelled them from their village in Chiapas state, Mexico.

Relatives, friends and neighbors in Tajlovijho, a village in the municipality of San Andrés Larráinzar in southern Mexico, had been harassing them for leaving indigenous religious practices for Christianity, sources said.

“The first action they took against them was to cut their potable water service,” pastor Mario Choj told Morning Star News. “Then they made them leave the humble home they owned.”

Leaving the “traditionalist” blend of Roman Catholic and indigenous rituals and beliefs, the Pérez family put their faith in Christ four years ago and began a small fellowship in their home, said Pastor Choj, who leads an Assemblies of God Church called Jesús Es el Camino.

The family loaded the few belongings their neighbors allowed them to take and headed up the mountains to a village called Mitontic, where they survive by collecting the morning dew from a nylon sheet and rain water that falls from the metal roof of the shanty they built, the pastor said. They store the water in empty soda bottles and other containers.

Shack where the Pérez family has taken refuge in Mitontic, Chiapas, Mexico. (Morning Star News photo courtesy of Federico Sarao)

Despite taking refuge far from their home, they are obligated to pay Tajlovijho officials 500 pesos (US$26) each month to keep authorities from taking possession of their house and remaining belongings, sources said.

Pastor Choj said Pérez told him the family is ready to suffer for Christ.

“To follow Christ is beautiful,” Pérez said, according to the pastor. “It doesn’t matter if we have to live in suffering, persecution and contempt from our village. Everyone in the family says that to live close to God is a blessing, and we delight in the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.”

Their case is one of thousands in which indigenous Mexican families that have been driven from their homes and lost all their belongings “only because they have accepted that Jesus is the only hope that we Mexicans have to be free of sin and eternal punishment,” Pastor Choj said.

The “traditionalist” religious mix practiced by the area’s predominantly ethnic Tzotzil, who are of Mayan origin, includes drunken festivals honoring pagan idols that evangelical Christians eschew. In a misuse of Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” law designed to protect indigenous culture, local caciques (political “bosses”) cite local regulations requiring villagers to contribute fees toward and participate in the festivals.

Christian attorneys note that this misuse of Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” laws violates the guarantee of religious freedom in Article 24 of Mexico’s constitution.

Similar cases of persecution have happened in Oaxaca, Durango and other states outside of Chiapas. In July residents of Huejutla, Hidalgo state, cut water service to two Christian families for refusing to participate in “Catholic festivals of the community,” according to online outlet Animal Político.

Denying any religious motive, officials with the Ministry of Interior blamed the two evangelical families “because they did not fulfill their duties” to villagers and did not “participate in their ‘uses and customs,’” the news cite reported.

In Chiapas, Pérez and his family, including wife Guadalupe Hernández and father Miguel Pérez Núñez, came to faith in Christ after reading an evangelistic pamphlet printed and distributed by Cruzada Mexican, a ministry also known as Every Home for Christ-México, Pastor Choj said. Volunteers leave the pamphlets, New Testaments and other Christian literature, some of them translated into indigenous languages, at area Protestant churches.

“The Pérez family previously lived happy and faithful, but they did not know what trials were coming to their peaceful life,” Pastor Choj said. “But they pray that more Christians would spread the Word of God, as many still need to know the love that is available only from Jesus Christ. They also pray for all the families expelled from their own houses and lands.”

Mexico ranks 39th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

Christian Jailed in Chiapas, Mexico Told to Leave Area in Exchange for Freedom

 

Chiapas state, Mexico

Chiapas state, Mexico

(Morning Star News) – A Christian in Chiapas state, Mexico was summarily jailed for three days the evening of Jan. 7 for refusing to deny his faith and contribute to Traditionalist Catholic festivals, according to an advocacy group.

Local authorities who practice the Traditionalist Catholic blend of indigenous pagan and Roman Catholic rituals also threatened Juan Gabriel Lopez Perez, 28, that he would not be released unless he sold his house and left the area within 20 days, the Coordination of Christian Organizations (COC) said in a statement. When Lopez Perez fell ill two days into his 72-hour sentence and was temporarily released to obtain medical care, his wife was obliged to serve the time in jail in his place, according to the organization.

Authorities in Rancheria El Encanto, Municipality of Las Margaritas, had given Lopez Perez the option of paying a 5,000-peso (US$240) fine or 72 hours in jail. After refusing to pay the fine, he was sent to jail at 7 p.m. for declining to sign a document denying his evangelical faith and agreeing to contribute to the Traditionalist Catholic festivals, which frequently involve drunkenness.

“On Jan. 9, the health condition of the prisoner were getting worse from the climatic conditions, so that in spite of requests for medical attention, it was not possible until night, when it was proposed that another person go to jail in his place, as a doctor had diagnosed the onset of bronchitis,” the COC statement read. “His wife, Eduvina Lopez Santiz, went into the jail at that time.” (more…)

MEXICO – Kidnapped Priest who Condemned Crime and Corruption Found Alive and Tortured

 

mexico

(Agenzia Fides) – Diocesan priest José Luis Sánchez Ruiz, who had been kidnapped on Friday, November 11, was released yesterday with “obvious signs of torture”, according to a statement from the Diocese of San Andres Tuxtla (Veracruz, Mexico) signed by His Exc. Mgr. Fidencio Lopez Plaza.

In the statement, sent to Fides, the Bishop thanked the authorities for their interest and informs that the community awaits the conclusions of the prosecutor to clarify the facts. Mgr. Lopez Plaza also thanks for the “heartfelt sympathy and prayers of all the faithful, as well as the Mexican Episcopal Conference, and in particular the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Veracruz”.

According to the local press, Father Sánchez Ruiz, the parish priest of Los 12 Apóstoles Catemaco, in the days before the kidnapping had received threats, surely for his harsh criticism against corruption and crime in the town of Catemaco. Citizens had more than once expressed the lack of security and the arrogance of organized crime. Fides on several occasions reported that the Mexican states of Veracruz, Guerrero and Michoacán are the most violent regions even for priests. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 14/11/2016)

Mexica: Two priests kidnapped and killed in Veracruz state

primopiano_2462

Poza Rica (Agenzia Fides) – In a statement the Mexican diocese of Papantla confirmed the violent death of two priests: Fr. Alejo Nabor Jiménez Juárez and José Alfredo Suárez de la Cruz. According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, a first report of the Office of the Attorney General of Veracruz state indicates that the two priests were kidnapped last Sunday evening, September 18, from the parish of Nuestra Senora de Fatima, in the extreme outskirts of the city of Poza Rica, in the northern part of the Veracruz state. Their lifeless bodies were found yesterday morning, Monday, September 19, at the side of the road that connects Papantla to Poza Rica. A collaborator of the priests, who worked as a sacristan and driver, was also kidnapped, and fortunately was found alive. The area was the scene of violent clashes between drug cartels for years, but it is still not clear why the two priests were killed.

“We are dismayed by this news and we pray for their eternal rest – writes Mgr. José Trinidad Zapata Ortiz, Bishop of Papantla, in the statement for the tragic death of the two priests -. Once more we see that violence and insecurity have taken root in our society”. The Bishop hopes that the loss of the two priests will help bring long-awaited peace and priestly vocations to continue the evangelizing mission of the Church. “We condemn all forms of violence and pray for the conversion of those who forget that we are brothers and cause suffering and death – writes Mgr. Zapata Ortiz -. The path of violence and crime generates even more violence. God does not want death, neither violence nor injustice. God wants life, God wants everyone to live in justice, dignity and peace”. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 20/09/2016)

Four Christians In Mexico Jailed and Beaten

evangelical-mexico

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling on the Mexican government to prosecute local officials responsible for the unjust imprisonment and torture of four protestant Christians from 5-8 November in the western state of Oaxaca.

Reverend Leopoldo Alonso, leader of the Independent Pentecostal Christian Church in San Juan Ozolotepec, and three members of his church, Manuel Martínez Silva, Miguel Silva Reyes and Plácido Aragón, were imprisoned on 5 November on the orders of the municipal president, who had ordered the destruction of the Pentecostal church on 4 November.

The four men were freed on 8 November after government officials, accompanied by state police, travelled to the municipality to intervene.  Voice of the Persecuted viewed photos of the men who were admitted to the local hospital that clearly showed signs that they had been severely beaten.

Threats against the Protestants were first reported in May when church members made a public declaration calling for state government intervention in reaction to threats from the municipal president, Pedro Cruz González. The church members said that Cruz González had threatened to burn them and throw their bodies into a canyon if they did not renounce their faith. When government officials failed to respond, the situation escalated. In July, a member of the church, Vicente Aragon Hernandez, was imprisoned by Cruz Gonzalez. Municipal leaders indicated that this was punishment for speaking out publicly about the situation in San Juan Ozolotepec. In the face of continued inaction on the part of the state government, the situation took a violent turn when Cruz Gonzalez made a public order to ‘demolish the temple, lynch, imprison and torture’ the members of the Pentecostal church.

The National Commission for Human Rights has opened a complaint into the San Juan Ozolotepec case and issued a statement indicating that cases of religious intolerance are on the rise in Mexico, particularly in rural areas and regions with a significant indigenous population.

Dr Jorge Lee Galindo, an expert on freedom of religion and conscience in Mexico who is currently hosting a CSW delegation there, told CSW that incidents of religious intolerance continue to occur in parts of Mexico, in part because of a culture of impunity. “The government, on the occasions when it decides to act, often intervenes only to calm the situation, but rarely takes legal action against those responsible for these violations. Local authorities see that there are no real consequences for acts of violence and exclusion targeting religious minorities and these cases escalate and spread.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “It is imperative that the Mexican government take swift legal action against those responsible for this horrific crime. If the state government is unable or unwilling to uphold the law, the federal government must intervene. Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Mexican Constitution and enshrined in international law to which Mexico is party; it is past time for all of Mexico’s citizens to enjoy the fundamental right to choose and practice their own faith.”

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