Around the world, many believers are persecuted—imprisoned, even killed—for their faith. Since Jesus laid down His life more than 2 millennia ago, 43 million of His followers have been martyred.
Right now 200 million people face persecution for believing in Jesus; 60 percent are children, according to Christians in Crisis International Ministry, a prayer advocacy group for persecuted believers.
As Christians worldwide gather November 6 and 13 for the International Days of Prayers for the Persecuted Church, evangelicals in rural Mexico are suffering increasing attacks on their faith.
A Problem of Power
“In both cases, it is a problem of power and a struggle for influence and control,” says Bob Fugate, an Alliance international worker in Mexico. He serves with his wife, Cheryl, in Guadalajara, which is far from southern Mexico, where the persecution has occurred.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Mexican evangelicals have faced starvation, expulsion from their homes and villages, and burning of churches.
“Thousands [of believers] have been displaced and left homeless, simply because they belonged to a religious minority and refused to make financial contributions to religious festivals they did not believe in,” ICC Advocacy Director Isaac Six said in an April 2016 article in The Christian Post.
Believer Brutally Beaten, Burned
“I personally can vouch for some of the persecution of indigenous peoples,” Bob says. When he traveled to Mexico’s western mountains, he interviewed four indigenous believers who were exiled from their tribal homes because of their newfound faith in Jesus. One man was brutally beaten, his feet doused with gasoline and then lit on fire.
Bob also was part of a group of five who were put on trial for entering a remote mountain village where believers were facing persecution. “We were charged with unauthorized entrance and being Christians,” Bob reports. “We were not detained or hurt, but we were ordered to leave town before sunrise and not come back; other villages were ordered not to assist us.”
Priests Tortured and Killed
Another aspect of persecution involves the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Catholic priests by drug cartels, according to Bob. During the last 10 years, he says, the Catholic Church in Mexico has lost 11 priests in retaliation for their human rights advocacy.
“Often these rural priests are in the forefront of defending local people’s human rights and are outspoken critics of the lack of government or police action, and they pay with their lives,” Bob added. “Since July, three more priests have been murdered.”
- For freedom to teach the Bible and proclaim Jesus Christ without the threat of persecution
- For God to call Mexican believers and pastors to disciple small, rural Christian groups and protection for those who minister in these areas
- For comfort, practical assistance, and financial provision for groups of exiled believers whose homes were burned and who have no one to advocate for them
- For help for the small Alliance missionary staff in Mexico facing many needs
- For peace in southern Mexico and an end to the religious violence
November 6 and 13 have been designated as International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.