April 15 was a joyful and historic moment for a group of indigenous Mexican Christians.
Five years ago they were forced to leave their community in Chiapas, Mexico because they came to faith in Jesus Christ. Five years later, the Christians of the Bawitz community have reached an agreement with the community and the government which allowed them to return.
The local community had been persecuting this group, consisting of 12 families, by denying them electricity and water. Persecution became worse when the community forced the families to flee. For five years they lived in another town, but they never stopped fighting for their rights. As a result, the Christians were finally able to go home.
Life is not the same as it used to be. The group has a lot of work to do. The homes and places the Christians left five years ago were abandoned. Land has to be made ready for planting, homes need repair work and perhaps the most difficult work to be done is relationships between people. Hate was what brought displacement and division.
For these Christians, their return is a milestone and it has brought them joy. “We have confidence that, despite all the pending uncertainties about our return, God is faithful and He will continue to help us and our community to get along well so we might work together in peace,” says one of the Christians.
The case of the 12 displaced families is not a unique story. In Chiapas, a poor region in southern Mexico, indigenous Christians are often displaced by their communities. Some of these communities combine Roman Catholicism and mysticism based on ancient beliefs. People who leave this traditional faith are seen as traitors and face persecution.
Open Doors supports several groups of displaced Christians who are struggling to survive.
Mexico is ranked No. 38 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.