March 28, 2018 | Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chiapas, Mexico, is helping victims of religious intolerance after four families were forced out of their homes by locals in the San Miguel Chiptip Community in Chiapas.
Agustin Alvarez, a baptized member and three other men were expelled from their communities on Mar. 15 after attending an evangelistic campaign in another community. Their wives and children were forced to stay in the Chiptip, according to Pastor Ignacio Navarro, president of the church in Chiapas.
“These families have been learning about Bible truths, so this angered some,” said Navarro. After nine days of appealing to the locals, the men were reunited with their families and are currently staying with family members elsewhere.
“We have been working with municipal leaders and the state government office to appeal for religious liberty laws to be enforced,” said Pastor Ignacio Navarro, president of the church in Chiapas. “These families’ homes were destroyed. They have nothing to go back to.”
It is not the first time that Alvarez and his family were forced to leave their community in Chiptip. Four years ago, after he and his family joined the Adventist Church, they were ostracized and had to move to a nearby community. Alvarez and his family continued to share the message of the gospel.
“The local conference and union are making the necessary provisions to assist these families in restoring their lives,” said Navarro. It is not clear whether their homes will be rebuilt again or the families will have to relocate, said Navarro, but church leaders are looking out for them and providing physical and spiritual nourishment.
Adventist World Church President Ted N.C. Wilson, who was in Chiapas last weekend to re-launch the youth-led One Year in Mission, encouraged the families.
“You are truly giants for Jesus because you have accepted the full truth and you are willing to die for the truth,” said Pastor Wilson. “My heart rejoices to see you, to see your faithfulness to God’s Word.”
Pastor Wilson said the world church, headquartered in Washington D.C., have kept them in prayer ever since news was brought to him by Inter-American Division President Pastor Israel Leito.
The families were brought to the Polyforum Convention Center in Tuxtla Gutiérrez while the church’s state-wide youth impact celebration was being held on Sabbath, Mar. 24. More than 4,000 Adventist leaders and young people welcomed the families and applauded their faithfulness.
“We want these brethren to know that they have the world church behind them, that they have a great family of more than 20 million people and we welcome them to the church,” said Navarro.
Families received Bibles, gifts, and were prayed for during program.
The Adventist World Church and Inter-American Division have already made funds available to rebuild the lives of these families, said Pastor Leito.
Because of the testament of these families, three more families in the Chiptip community stand in support of them and are interested in learning more about their beliefs, Pastor Navarro said.
The church will continue to monitor the families and seek resolutions to work to uphold religious freedom rights in the region.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chiapas, Mexico, has more than 230,000 members worshiping in 3,087 churches and congregations. The church oversees eight conferences and missions, operates one university, and 51 primary and secondary schools.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chiapas, Mexico, visit umch.org.mx