Nov 3, 2009

Christians Still Die And there IS Religious Persecution in Mexico

On October 13th, I had the honor and privilege of presenting information about Religious Persecution in Mexico at the VOM/USA office in Oklahoma, for the first time representing our own office, VOM en Mexico. Actually getting there was the battle... on the way to the border in San Luis Colorado, where I planned on visiting my daughter Jaimee and grandson Lonney Ray (pictured here with the Lion), my wallet will all my money and documents was stolen... just before I arrived. I found out when we went to Mac Donalds and ordered, only to find that my wallet was gone! Passport, Maine ID, credit card, prison visitation ID, checks, immigration permission... EVERTHING. No money... no phone to contact people... no way to get on a plane from Yuma to Tulsa without passport or picture ID. Now if you know me, you have heard about my wild travel by bus stories of things that have happened to me that shouldn't. I have actually some VOM fame in Oklahoma that I shouldn't deserve. Why, when anyone mentions traveling by bus, does everyone who knows me or has heard of me, start laughing? It's a toss up of being known for my "strong" personality (who: sweet and kind little ole me?) or the infamous bus trips I've experienced. And actually, without apologies, I'll say that now British owned Greyhound bus service in the States could learn alot from the luxury, and reasonably priced buslines in Mexico and Central America, where one can ride in comfort, and be treated politely! Since I couldn't get to OK on time, I set about doing what I needed todo to get my report written and sent in, with the help of a young man I'd never met before, who was visiting at La Sombra Baptist Church in San Luis, Sonora, Mexico. And on Sunday morning, after church, this "strange" young man told me that the Lord had told him that I should get to that conference. So when nothing else was feasible, he offered to drive me in his car and pay the costs for the 30 hour straight trip to Bartlesville. Well, at that rate, Jaime asked if she could tag along, and bring her son, Lonney. So off we went, on a journey made a bit longer by my grandson's tendency to carsickness, but with Allan and his fiancee, Hayley showing patience and kindness all the way. We arrived at 1:30 am... and were received with typical VOM love and graciousness. I believe that the information from our office was rather different, and that many heard for the first time, or at least explained in a clearer manner, what is the actual situation relating to religious discrimination and persecution in Mexico, now even recognized by the US State Department last week. I'd say that the higher indices of persecution are a result of several issues... and not until the August Supreme Court release of 20 Acteal Massacre Prisoners, due to increased resentment or hatred for evangelical believers by those of the majority church. Those two causes would be: 1. increased activism in reporting cases as they happen, and 2. workshops taught since 2007, teaching the indigena believers that they have guarenteed religious liberty under Article 24 of the Mexican constitution. That due to people like Oscar Moha, journalist/human rights defender in Mexico City and Esdras Alonso, leader & human rights defender in Chiapas. We would attribute the persecution in general to: the 1. disinterest of the Mexican federal government to promote religious equality and to stand by the laws that guarantee it, and the 2.position of the majority church as a favored body, loathe to give up its political and spiritual influence, and the increasing loss of its followers to the evangelical movement, and 3. indigena groups or traditional rural communities who believe they are legitimately defending the Religious, Traditional,Economic and Cultural Identity of their communities... VOM en Mexico has been able, through the documentation and strong advocacy efforts of Oscar Moha to call attention to these issues... both inside and outside Mexico. Now to work more closely with those who have been on the front line, suffering for their evangelical faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Above in the photo, you will see my grandson, who has already made his first missionary trip to Chiapas, and feels a connection with it's indigena peoples. He says his best friend is Brother Tom White. He certainly is in good comapny! God bless, Tom White and all the others like him, who love and sacrifice to be a Voice for those who don't have one!

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