Baptists help stop violence in border towncomment (0)
May 31, 2012
José Angel could have left Juarez, Mexico, behind. No more listening to regular reports of violence between rival drug cartels. No more worrying about whether he and his family were safe. He even had a job interview in the United States.
But coming back from that interview, Angel knew he couldn’t leave. More to the point, he believed God was calling him to stay.
In a city physically and emotionally affected by dark tales of violence in recent years, someone must be a beacon of light, Angel said.
“Our doctrine is good. Now is the time to live out what we believe, to live according to God with confidence,” he said.
As counselors, Angel and his wife began putting their skills to work. They listened to friends and family of victims of the violence. For example: an 8-year-old girl came home one day to find her mother had killed herself and must now raise her siblings.
The couple counsels 10 to 12 people a day, serving people who are shocked and confused and lacking hope. People need a relationship with Christ to rely on to carry them through such trying times, Angel said.
The Angels have taken to the offensive in this expansive border town. The Baptist General Convention of Texas has helped the Angels by providing the No Más Violencia curriculum.
Beyond fostering forces for peace, the Angels’ efforts have seen the forming of congregations where they have used the No Más Violencia materials. Young people begin by coming together to make a difference in their communities and in the process discover the hope of Christ — the only hope, Angel said, that can truly change Juarez.
“The light is in us and we are the light,” he said. “Darkness cannot stay where there is light.”
Statistics do indicate the environment is improving somewhat. Overall crime is down 40 percent in Juarez. Murders have dropped from more than 3,100 in 2010 to slightly more than 1,900 in 2011. Still the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Justice lists Juarez among the world’s most violent cities.
Angel remembers Texas groups working “arm-in-arm” with Mexican Baptists in their efforts to share the hope of Christ throughout Juarez. They helped motivate Mexican churches to focus on sharing the gospel. With Juarez struggling, the groups have stopped coming. He encouraged Christians in the U.S. to return, believing that together, Texas and Mexican Baptists can have a significant impact on the city.