Local Missionaries in Mexico
Nearly three times the size of Texas, Mexico is comprised of rugged mountains, coastal plains, and desert. Its western coast runs along the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, a belt of active volcanoes and earthquake epicenters. On its eastern coast, Mexico shares the Yucatan Peninsula, which divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea, with the southern bordering countries of Guatemala and Belize.
Though Mexico has the 11th largest economy in the world, many Mexicans are underemployed, earn low wages, and have few opportunities to advance in their jobs. Despite this reality, thousands of migrants from Central America cross the border to find work in Mexico.
Mexico is a major drug-producing nation—it is the world’s third largest producer of opium—and drug-transit nation, as drugs are trafficked from South America into the United States.
Nearly 89% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic. Most practice a blend of Catholicism and animism. Christian Aid Mission assists indigenous ministries that are reaching the many tribal communities in Mexico that have no understanding of the gospel.
One such ministry works in Oaxaca State, the most ethnically diverse entity in the world. In one 36-square-mile area of the state, more than 200 languages and dialects are spoken. Half of the indigenous language-speaking people in Oaxaca do not speak Spanish. For centuries, Oaxaca has escaped all foreign influence, including the Spanish conquest, and is an exceptionally difficult mission field. Outsiders are treated with suspicion and even hostility.
The ministry helps train and place native missionaries in tribal communities as carpenters, bakers, literacy teachers, etc. Christian Aid Mission provided them with funding to open a carpentry shop so that missionaries could make connections with a tribal community by equipping poor villagers with an income-generating skill.
The native missionaries either know or learn the tribal languages to build relationships and share the gospel in villagers’ mother tongue. They then translate portions of Scripture from Spanish to the tribal language. The ministry has planted several churches among tribal groups and reports significant changes among these groups. In one of those groups, where women were frequently abused by their husbands, the ministry leader wrote, “The beating of women has dropped significantly. Best of all, the authorities are supporting our work.”
Another indigenous Mexican ministry is working to translate the Bible into the languages of 22 tribal groups. The leader of this ministry reports, “Through this type of ministry we have been able to see during the last 20 years that the ethnic peoples are redeemed for God, receive dignity, education, inclusion in different areas. It is wonderful to see the miracle of redemption in ethnic indigenous peoples and how they are dignified through the Word of God in their own languages.”
Sources: Joshua Project, CIA World Factbook, Etnopedia
How to Pray for
- Pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ would take root among ethnic tribal groups that have lived in darkness apart from the Savior for thousands of years.
- Pray for protection and provision for the native missionaries who are risking their safety and sacrificing their comfort to work among ethnic groups that are hostile toward outsiders.
- Pray for the new churches—the first ever churches—planted among ethnic groups, that they would grow and flourish and be grounded in the Word of God.
More stories from Mexico
Working among Mixtec and other indigenous peoples, local missionaries in Mexico face the challenge of helping women and children who have suffered abuse to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Not long after a young woman in central Mexico left her abusive husband and their two children, she got involved with another man who beat her – and introduced her to drugs.
Lorena tried to leave him, but she was addicted to the drugs only he could provide. Things got worse when she discovered she was pregnant.
“She was like in a dark tunnel with no end,” a ministry worker said. “Time passed, and Lorena went deeper and deeper into drugs.”
For an ethnic Mixtec woman like Donaji, nightmares were not just scary but predicted disaster in this world and the next.
The 40-year-old fruit-vendor in a remote village of western Mexico believed she was surrounded by gods of rain, trees, mountains, stones and forces in nature telling her she was doomed.
No amount of animal sacrifices could ward off the destruction of her soul that the dangers and deaths in her dreams portended.
Witchcraft was a way of life for an ethnic Mixtec father of six in a Mexican village who lost his two youngest children to mysterious illnesses.
Villagers who relied on his potions and rituals in their yearning to acquire fortune or favor believed that Roberto’s two young sons must have died in a war of spells between him and another specialist in witchcraft – and that his rival’s spell also doomed his other children to die.
It took a long, long time for Roberto to realize his perpetual drunken stupor would not take away the pain.