There are 128.2 million Christians in Mexico – they make up the majority of the total population, which is 133.9 million.
Criminal networks have spread throughout Mexico, and their increasing struggle for territorial control creates an environment where Christians face the constant risk of being targeted for violence. Believers are perceived as a threat to criminal activities because they oppose corruption and drug use, or because they explicitly reject any demands or requests from criminal organisations.
In areas controlled by drug traffickers, members of criminal networks expose women to abuse. They are recruited as hired assassins or are forced to engage in relationships with cartel members. The families of women who convert to Christianity and desert criminal groups often face rape, death threats and constant surveillance as punishment.
Men in Mexico generally face more threats than women and a higher level of persecution since they are often the heads of families and leaders of churches. In the areas controlled by criminal groups or drug cartels, young men are exposed to indoctrination and forced recruitment. Those who refuse to join a gang or take part in criminal activities are threatened, abducted or even killed.
Christian converts from indigenous communities in the south of the country are also likely to face persecution from their families and tribes for choosing to follow Jesus over any traditional faith.
“The closer you get to what people in those areas call ‘hot spots’, life becomes much more difficult. You risk your life and the lives of your loved ones. While I was there, I heard so many sad stories.” Pastor Genaro, church leader
Javier is a Christian leader from an indigenous background in Mexico. He was kicked out of his home, along with three other Christian leaders and their families, because he no longer followed his community’s traditional religion.
The state authorities have been aware of this case from the moment the incident occurred. But despite this, the dream of these families to return home is unlikely to become reality any time soon. Indigenous communities in Mexico find it easy to get away with persecuting those who leave their traditional faiths because they have a certain amount of autonomy from the central government. According to their own laws, converting to a religion that is different from the traditional faith is forbidden, and Christians who have converted can face rejection and punishment in the form of fines, imprisonment or forced displacement.
Thanks to your prayers and support, Open Doors has been able to hire lawyers to fight for the rights of these believers. This can be a very long path, and it isn’t always fruitful, but it helps to show these believers that they are not alone and that their global church family are willing to fight for them.
In late 2020, Open Doors partners were also able to help displaced Christians in several Mexican states with the purchase of land and construction of shelters - supporting these believers with homes and livelihoods after they have been expelled from their communities.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Mexico. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors strengthens persecuted believers in Mexico with biblical training, legal support, trauma care and socio-economic aid.
Mexico shot up the 2021 World Watch List after being outside of the top 50 entirely last year. This is likely due to the rise in illegal activity that directly challenges Christians and Christian teaching. Drug traffickers and gangs retaliate against and target Christian leaders for opposing their criminal activities, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, their control over parts of Mexico has strengthened.
*Name changed for security reasons
Lord Jesus, thank You for the faith of our persecuted church family in Mexico, and their boldness in speaking out against criminal organisations. Please protect them and help them to keep advocating for justice. Provide safe places and homes for believers who are expelled from their families and communities for choosing to follow You. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.