Mexico (MNN) — There's been broad news coverage detailing
the effects that drug-related violence is having on Mexican society. Cover
stories feature the graphic photos, and articles outline gory details of the
latest attack by drug cartels.
The resulting effect is that an observer from the outside
gets the impression that Mexico is falling apart and that a visit to the country
would result in death, great bodily harm, or something equally disastrous.
Border-state governors from Arizona and Texas insist the cartels
are hitting their states hard, using terminology like "war zone" to describe
the mayhem created by drug bosses.
However, there's another side to the picture. In stark contrast, Customs and
Border Protection along with Homeland Security say their measures are working
and the border has never been safer. Their claims are backed by a recent study
that violent crime in cities within 50-miles of the border is consistently
lower than state and national averages.
Juan Carlos Millán, Buckner Mexico program director, agrees
with that. "I have never seen
people fighting with guns, and I have been four or five times in Juarez, per
year. And in Oaxaca, I have been many times, and in Guerrero…and we haven't
seen problems like that."
That's not to say that it doesn't exist, Millán notes. "Nothing is 100% sure on safety. But we
received five groups this year, and all of them are really happy because we had
no contact with this problem (violence)."
Millán says they take the safety of short-term team members seriously. "We know there is a really
bad situation in some places. Some moments are really difficult, and you have to
be careful." When a team visits,
their safety is paramount. However,
this year, the reputation of the region scared
a lot of people off. "Many people
don't want to come to Mexico. The people who live in Mexico, like me and our
team, know that God is in control. We have to be serious and careful."
The question of violence came up again when looking at the
disruption to other ministries. Millan
explains that the opposition they encounter doesn't come from the place you'd
expect. "In Mexico's Republic,
nobody knows Buckner because Buckner began to work three years ago. Now, they
understand sometimes it's a little difficult, as you may know. The Catholic
people are 99% in Mexico, so sometimes they reject the Christians."
During the last quarter of 2007, more doors for ministry
opportunities opened in the cities of Oaxaca, Mexico City, Arcelia and Juárez.
Buckner officially formed its NGO in April 2008 under the name "Familia y
Ninos Buckner Mexico A.C."
Today, Buckner has foster care programs, feeding ministries,
and humanitarian aid programs. They're
a ministry dedicated to the restoration and healing through the hope of Christ. They
also just started a hydroponics program to address the food shortages. It opens a lot of doors. "When we work with them to get fruit for
the poor people, many people are growing in the knowledge of Jesus