It seems strange to write about persecution of Christians in Mexico. Statistics says that the country on the Southern border of the US is 95% Christian. However, high levels of organised crime and corruption, along with communities with strong indigenous religious beliefs mean that some Christians face high levels of persecution. Those who stand up to criminal gangs or convert from an indigenous religion face violence, pressure and intimidation.
Marcelino converted to Christianity after growing up following a local belief system.
He has been in prison twice. Last October he was sent to prison for the second time – he stayed there for a week. His crime, according to the local authorities, was to “believe in Jesus Christ and disregard the beliefs of his community”.
He was kicked out of his local town after his release from prison and faced daily harassment and threats. After Marcelino and his family left their community, his wife noticed that eight of her horses were missing. She suspected they had been stolen by residents of their own town.
Marcelino’s story became known to Open Doors workers in Mexico, and they helped to hire a local lawyer with the aim of ending the threats and abuse. After reviewing the case it was decided that the best course of action was to sue those who have harassed and persecuted Marcelino.
In the hearing that followed those that had been sued agreed to a compromise, but they asked the judge if Marcelino could attend a local assembly in a nearby town to seal the agreement.
The lawyer hired advised Marcelino to attend the assembly with his pastor. Once there, they were both arrested and held in prison for two days. Marcelino was asked to sign a document in which he would agree to drop the legal action against those who had assaulted him and meet all the legal costs they had incurred.
Immediately after, Marcelino’s lawyer filed a complaint and insisted in maintaining the legal action against those who had harassed Marcelino and his family. The lawyer also announced his client was suing the local authorities for cattle theft.
As the case continues, Marcelino has moved from the house he had been living in with his family in order to prevent any further issues.
Mexico is ranked at number 39 on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List. There are high levels of organised crime and corruption in Mexico. Christians who stand against this, particularly by taking part in rehabilitation programs or refusing to engage in illegal activities, are seen as a threat by criminal gangs.
Around 21 per cent of Mexico’s population is made up of indigenous groups, and these groups have a certain amount of autonomy. Some of these groups follow a form of Christianity mixed with traditional customs. If a member of the group decides to follow another form of Christianity, like Marcelino and his family have, and no longer wish to take part in traditional customs, this is seen as a huge betrayal.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the bravery of our sisters and brothers in Mexico. May You turn the hearts of those involved in organised crime to You, that they may know Your love. Protect and provide for all believers who find themselves displaced for their faith, and strengthen the churches, that they may continue to share Your love in their communities. Be with Marcelino and his family. Protect and comfort them, and let them know your love and peace. Let justice be done and for the legal case to highlight the abuses against Marcelino and his family. I that Marcelino and his local community would be reconciled and that many would come to know you through him. Amen.
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