A group of Christians recently went to Chiapas, Mexico to encourage and pray with Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. During the trip, the group met with Pascuala whose ministry in the area has led many to Christ.
Pascuala gently took the hand of Carol, a member of the group, and placed it on one side of her face.
She guided the hand over her skin until Carol felt the hard pellets still lodged not only in her face, but also down her neck. Twenty-one pellets in all – grim reminders of blasts from a shotgun which struck Pascuala 50 years ago when she was a new Christian at 13 years old.
But they are also reminders of a miracle from God. How He turned those scars, physical and emotional, into a life of service in His kingdom in the southeastern state of Chiapas, Mexico.
For years Pascuala has been re-telling her riveting story to thousands who have stopped by her home or business. She has become an example to others of standing strong in faith, perseverance and fearlessness in a region where evil and persecution of Christians continues even today.
In 1965 she was shot and left for dead when she refused to deny her faith and follow the pagan traditions of the region. The home where she lived was burned down by caciques (local indigenous extremists). Two of her sisters were burned to death inside the house.
Pascuala, weak and bleeding from her gunshot wounds, ran naked down a road trying to escape the shooters. She finally found shelter. A day later she was taken to the hospital. It took her months to recover.
“How did I live through that terrible night? It was only through the grace of God,” she says today. “God had his hand on me.”
Pascuala, who was also abused as a girl, didn’t become bitter.
Through the years, Pascuala, short in stature but big in compassion, has made an impact throughout the area and beyond.
She has a heart for women who have been widowed or made homeless due to persecution. One of her ministries has been to teach them crafting skills so they might support themselves. She still holds Bible studies and has founded 16 churches along with her husband Manuel over the last 50 years. Pascuala and her husband have delivered Bibles into some of the most dangerous areas in Chiapas for years.
“We have been stopped by Zapatistas (a Mexican indigenous armed revolutionary group based in Chiapas) a few times while delivering Bibles,” she says. “They ask us if we have weapons in the boxes, hoping to seize them. We tell them we do. So they open up the boxes and see Bibles. And then they let us go.” The Bible-delivery ministry has slowed recently due to the ill health of Manuel.
Her children have encouraged her to have the bullets taken out of her face and neck, but she says no way! “A few years ago I went to the hospital to have an X-ray of my face and neck where the pellets are lodged,” she recalls. “But the X-ray machine didn’t work at first. When they (radiologists) finally got it working, they had a clear view of the pellets. They asked me if I had been in a war. “I told my family I am not going to have those bullets taken out. They have never given me any pain over the years. That is a gift from God.”
“Continue to pray for Christians here; there are still many who suffer for their faith,” she states. “I am thankful for the missionaries and Christian workers who come here and help us in our ministry.”