Mexican Drug Violence, Mistaken Identity, Claim Two Adventist Lives
Brother and sister are murdered in Ciudad Juarez
BY LIBNA STEVENS, Inter-American Division
Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Ciudad Juarez are concerned about the safety of their church members following the recent murder of two young Adventists. The killings are believed to be a case of mistaken identity in a border city at the center of an ongoing war between drug cartels.
Jose Ines Martinez, 18, and his sister Maribel Martinez, 26, both active members of the Zaragoza Adventist Church, were found shot to death in their vehicle on September 12. Both were among 17 victims killed in Juarez within a 24-hour period, according to a local news report.
The two siblings were killed as they waited for their sister to return from a visit to a nearby clinic.
TROUBLE SPOT: Cuidad Juarez in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua has been rocked by violence between two warring drug cartels. The violence took the lives of two Adventist Church members in what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity. [Photo: IAD]
“We believe that this was another case of mistaken identity,” said Jose Luis Jimenez, president of the church in the North Mission office. Jimenez said a witness overheard the shooters say they had shot the wrong people as they stood by the vehicle immediately after the shooting.
Jose was an active master guide in the church's Pathfinders youth activity group and Maribel was active in witnessing and in small group ministries, Jimenez said. Her husband and five children, ranging from ages six to 13, survive Maribel Martinez.
“We are saddened to have lost these two young people,” said Jimenez, who attended the memorial and funeral services last week. “This is the second time this year that our church in Zaragoza has been hit hard by violence.”
In May an Adventist pastor and his head deacon were killed while they sat in a vehicle after visiting members’ homes.
Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez in the last two years because of violence between warring drug cartels, the Associated Press reported. In an unprecedented move, the local newspaper earlier this week issued a front page editorial asking cartels for reporting guidelines after one of their photographers was killed, also in a case of mistaken identity.
“We know that we are living in difficult times, yet our members continue to be committed to the mission we have to accomplish, in serving God and supporting the work,” said Jimenez, who oversees 106 congregations from his mission office in Chihuahua. “We continue to warn our members to take precautionary measures toward safety by not staying in one place or in a vehicle for very long and not traveling at night.”
Church leaders at the North Mexican Union Conference headquarters in Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, continue to be concerned about the safety of their members in the region.
“We have prepared a document with recommendations for the safety of our members as they do missionary work and this will be voted in our upcoming committee meeting,” said Luis Arturo King, president of the church in North Mexico. “We know that the Lord is with His church and we are encouraged in what can be accomplished for the growth of God's work.”