Believers afraid as violence spreads to more Mexican cities

By February 3, 2012

Mexico (MNN) — Early this week, police in northern Mexico announced the capture of a Zeta drug lord responsible for some 75 deaths. In a separate case this week, 119 other suspects were also charged for drug trafficking (among other things), according to the Law Enforcement Examiner.

With all of these arrests in hand, is the drug war actually being won?

Todd Szalkowski with
E3 Partners (E3) just returned from Reynosa, Mexico and says the violence may actually be getting worse.

"[In Reynosa], I heard stories of the increased violence across Mexico in places where we hadn't seen it before: Veracruz, Mexico City, Guadalajara. Places that had not been impacted the way that the border had been impacted had seen some of the atrocious, gang-style executions that had occurred along the border now happening in these cities," says Szalkowski.

As evidence of the increased hostility elsewhere, Szalkowski adds, "Women of the church in Reynosa had been invited to a conference in Guadalajara and were afraid to go. These women live in one of the most dangerous cities on earth and were afraid to go to Guadalajara for a women's conference."

The violence is affecting believers' day-to-day lives in a number of ways. Although innocent bystanders are not affected as much, says Szalkowski, nearly every family, it seems, has some ties to drug cartels.

"Just about every family has someone who is impacted directly by drug cartels. Either they're in a cartel in some form or fashion, or a lookout, or being forced to be a lookout. It's just so widespread," explains Szalkowski.

This makes E3's ministry difficult. For one thing, people are disappearing.

"We'll see people disappear, and we're not sure whether or not they've disappeared because they have been executed, or whether they flee simply to try to hide from the influences they no longer want to be a part of," notes Szalkowski.

As if that's not bad enough, the violence makes it hard for E3 to track their own ministry work. E3 knows the only way to end the violence in Mexico is for people to grasp the Gospel. The ministry has planted several "I Am Second" groups–essentially small home churches–across Mexico. The groups naturally duplicate themselves, but Szalkowski says they still only know of a few dozen groups in existence; there are probably more.

"What we're finding is that some people are actually afraid to report to us that groups have been started and to give us names and locations of those groups, for fear of being targeted."

Prayer is a must in this situation. Pray for boldness as Christians attempt to share their faith. Pray that they would feel God's presence. Pray that Christians would not be targeted but would be seen as peace-bearers. Pray that Mexico would turn to Christ in this time of turmoil.

E3 continues to train leaders in Mexico, especially within "I Am Second" groups. To help cover the costs of training, give to the Mexico Border Project.

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