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Photo: Flickr / Joe Driscoll (cc)

Authorities in the village of Mariano Matamoros, Chiapas State, have illegally cut utilities to the homes of 30 Christian families, leaving them without a supply of water or proper sewage services. This incident is one of the many attacks against evangelicals in the area. The individuals responsible for harassing these families are known as "traditionalists," a group of Mexico's indigenous peoples who have erroneously combined their ancient Mayan rituals with Catholic ordinances.

Problems began in 2012, when traditionalists in the village began to physically harm the Christians, attempt conversions by force, and confiscate privately-owned property without legal grounds. In the midst of the ongoing violence, appeals were made to the Chiapas State government to protect the families' religious freedom.

Although the state government guaranteed the protection of these Christians' rights and the return of their illegally-confiscated land, these promises have not been enforced. As a result, a new decree was issued by the opposing village leaders, barring the evangelicals from selling or purchasing any land in the area. The situation for these families is not only distressing, but indicative of the state government's failure to protect the religious freedom of its citizens.

Similar promises of protection were made to seven other villages in the state, with a deadline to enact these guarantees set for April of 2014. However, once again the government has not come through. While one group of displaced families from the village of Buenavista Bahuitz was allowed to return home, the conditions of their return do not align with the previously made agreements to protect their freedom of beliefs. (An earlier report on the situation can be found here, as well as a 22-minute video clip.) All other communities have seen little to no change.

VOM Mexico's president, Luis Herrera, who also serves as Director of the Coordination of Christian Organizations in Chiapas State and legal representative for the families of Mariano Matamoros, has been notified by village authorities that they are planning to confiscate the families' private land. This would then leave the members of this Christian community homeless and displaced.

Please uphold all the Christian families who are facing persecution in various areas of Mexico's Chiapas State. Pray that they will not be deterred by the injustice, threats of violence or any other form of intimidation, but rather further strengthened and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord to move mightily in the hearts of the state's governing officials, granting them wisdom, mercy and a desire to intervene justly. May He also work in the hearts of the antagonizing village leaders, revealing to them spiritual truth and the reality of His life-changing presence so they will realize the error of their ways and come to a point of sincere repentance and salvation. (We are reminded in Acts 9:1-22 of Saul's dramatic conversion.)