March 29, 2018

In Mexico, Adventist Church Helps Believers Affected by Religious Intolerance

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

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 March 15, 2018, after attending an evangelistic series in another community. Their wives and children were forced to stay in the Chiptip, according to Ignacio Navarro, president of the Adventist Church in Chiapas.

“These families have been learning about Bible truths, so this angered some...”

“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 state government officials to appeal for religious liberty laws to be enforced,” said Navarro. “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 affected families.

“You are truly giants for Jesus because you have accepted the full truth and you are willing to die for the truth,” said Wilson. “My heart rejoices to see you, to see your faithfulness to God’s Word.”

Wilson said the world church, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, have kept them in prayer ever since the news was brought to him by Inter-American Division president Israel Leito.

The families were brought to the Polyforum Convention Center in Tuxtla Gutiérrez while the church celebrated the state-wide youth impact celebration on March 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 Leito.

Because of the testimony of these families, three more families in the Chiptip community stand in support of them and are interested in learning more about their beliefs, Navarro said.

The church will continue to monitor the families and seek resolutions to uphold religious freedom rights in the region, leaders said.