Mexico (MNN) — Five heads were found by Mexican police in the
city of Torreon over the weekend.
Delivered with the heads were threatening messages that led
authorities to believe this was yet another outbreak of drug gang violence. The
grisly findings suggest a feud between local gangs, which could increase the
scope of the violence.
Since 2007, when President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on
the cartels, more than 46,000 people have died. Spanish American Mission President Doug Bytwerk says the upheaval had an
initial impact four years ago. "We slowed up our efforts in sending crews
from the United States to build [in Mexico]. We have church planters that
continue to do the work of leading people to Christ, planting churches in
homes, and then, as those churches get up to a critical mass, we'll send a crew
down there to build a building for them."
On January 6, Spanish American Mission sent a team of five to the
area to help finish the 600-seat Ministry Center in Gomez Palacio, not far from
Torreon. Bytwerk quickly added that the
killings did not involve anyone on their team. Everyone is safe.
The war doesn't involve their team because "this is the drug
world. It doesn't mean it's safe," Bytwerk
points out, "but it does mean that
if you're staying away from that part of the city, you're staying away from
those people, and if you're not involved in the drug world, you're fairly
However, "There are those who have been killed who have been
in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pray that our guys are not there at the
wrong place when that type of thing breaks out. Pray that God protects them,
that they're able to continue on with their project."
Tony Gomez, SAM's field chairman, noted a recent incident that hit
close to home. In his most recent communication he shared:
"There was a recent shooting
around the Gomez church, and the bad guys left their guns in a church van,
knowing that the police would not look there. The church people knew not to
touch the guns. The bad guys came back for the guns and did no harm to the
church or to the church people."
There's an interesting twist to the story: the work of the evangelists, church leaders,
and church planters has earned believers a reputation in the area. Bytwerk explains, "The cartel people know
our mission; they know what we're doing. They know Tony Gomez, who is our field
chairman down there. They respect him, (so) pray that they continue to respect
him and leave him alone."
At this point, the concrete block walls of the Ministry Center
have been completed by the Mexicans. Twelve feet high, these block walls will
form the lower portion of the sheet steel walls of the sanctuary that, in total,
will be 30 feet high. The team there now will be erecting steel walls to completely enclose the
Given the tremors threatening to erupt into a blood bath, Bytwerk says, "Pray that they'll continue
to see us as a group that is not interested in what they're doing. We're
interested in the proclamation of the Gospel, the building of churches. We're
not into politics, we're not into government issues in any way, and we're not
into the drug world."