Lauro, Leopoldo and Silvia told their stories to a group of young Baptist missionaries who had come from all over Mexico to receive training from the National Baptist Youth Union. Lauro had never met Leopoldo and Silvia, but their stories were strikingly similar.
In 2015, Lauro and his family were ordered to leave the small town of La Chachalaca due to their belonging to a different faith than the local church’s blend of indigenous paganism and pop-Catholicism. Prior to leaving the village, Lauro had been imprisoned four times in less than a year. Lauro and his family were forced to move hours away to the village of Ayontzintepec where they have started a family business with the help of Open Doors.
In 2013 Leopoldo and his wife Silvia were faithfully serving at their Pentecostal church in San Juan Ozolotepec when Leopoldo was whisked away from his house by a group of 450 people and taken to the main square where he said, “They threatened to lynch me or kill me in any other way.”
According to his testimony, people shouted angrily at him, beat him and tore his clothes off in the middle of the town´s main square. Bruised and half naked, he was taken to the municipal jail where he was imprisoned for three days. Eventually, several policemen and local government officials came to his cell and asked him to sign a letter agreeing to “voluntarily” leave the town as soon as possible. Because of his many bruises, including swollen and bleeding hands, he could not sign the document but soon after left his community for Oaxaca City where he now lives with his family.
Silvia´s testimony was brief but very powerful, focusing on the experience of supporting and comforting her whole family throughout her husband Leopoldo´s ordeal. Her story described how God had taken care of families suffering from religious persecution.
Lauro, Leopoldo and Silvia’s story doesn’t have an immediate resolution. The physical and relational wounds will take time to heal, and adjusting to new lives in new communities is not easy; however, Lauro, Leopoldo and Silvia’s evening with the National Baptist Youth Union served two purposes. The Baptist missionaries were reminded why their work is desperately needed in a country where persecution of Christians is still very real And Lauro, Leopoldo and Silvia were able to receive what they needed most: a community of faith to take them in.
As these three Christians told their stories the missionaries listened attentively to each. When they had finished the group surrounded them with prayers and words of love, encouragement and compassion. After the meeting, they were approached by people they hardly knew who wanted to embrace them and asked for their details and needs for prayer. Lauro, Leopoldo and Silvia were stunned. Their experience of faith had been persecution and expulsion at the hands of the religious community. They had always fought their spiritual battle against injustice on their own.
One of the goals of Open Doors is to remind our brothers and sisters in tangible ways that they aren’t alone. All over the world, we are providing food, shelter, medicine, counseling and comfort to persecuted believers who often feel alone. Today please pray for the persecuted church, specifically in Mexico, and that God would bless Open Doors’ efforts there.