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Faith & Flourishing Amidst Violence in Oaxaca

A story of God’s provision for a tumultuous community in the mountains of Mexico.
Written on the Jones family, workers serving in Oaxaca, Mexico

For Beverly Basey-Jones, life in Oaxaca, Mexico has been a balance of worlds. The region is a collision of cultures, where Animism mixes with Catholicism, and deeply held local traditions of many isolated groups make it hard for the gospel to spread quickly. Alongside her husband, Stephen Jones, she helps to financially and emotionally support the work of grassroots churches in the area. 

“My husband and I have always felt strongly that our job is ultimately to support the local church in ways that encourage the members to take the lead with reaching their communities.” 

One such missionary is Sister Dalila, who pastors a small church in a mountainous community several hours drive from the capital city. Sister Dalila, soon to be Pastor Dalila, has been studying online for the last couple of years to become an ordained minister - a job that is not without significant challenges. 

Nestled in southern Mexico, Oaxaca is the poorest state in the country, with a high number of indigenous peoples, many of whom have still not heard the gospel. There is significant persecution against protestant and evangelical believers. Inter-community violence flares up from time-to-time in many of the isolated mountain communities.

Recently, Dalila’s village of 3,000 residents has been fraught with tragedy. An ongoing conflict over water escalated to violence on two separate occasions, both of which led to the assassinations of the Mayor and second in command. Others were killed, and many wounded, including members of her own church. The clashes led to the national guard being deployed, and access to the community restricted. Currently the position of president and second in command are being held by two of the church members. 

“We pray that the Lord can use this difficult situation to help others see and hear God through them.”

In November, Beverly and Stephen were able to lead a team of Mexicans on a three day trip to support Dalila’s work in meeting the needs of the community. 

“We brought a doctor and a children’s dentist to do free consultations for the local community, a lawyer who gave free consultations, a beautician to give free cuts, and we provided the children with activity packs.”

In a community without a dentist, medical care can have a significant impact on the local population. That Sunday, they screened the “Jesus Film” at the church, which led to the majority of the sharing of the gospel in one-on-one conversations, when the team was working with individuals.

As a way to support Dalila personally, the team also brought workers to put in an indoor bathroom in her house and safety bars on the windows, so that she could feel safer in her home. 

“As a single woman living alone on the grounds of the church, it concerned us that she was having to leave the house at night, in the dark - often in the rain - to use the bathroom. She was super excited about the bathroom, and a solar water heater so she could take hot showers! She was so very grateful that people were thinking about her well-being, praying for her, and doing something concrete to demonstrate Christ's love!”

For Beverly and John, this balance of worlds has led to stunning outcomes of discipleship and growth. Despite the violence, they’ve witnessed progress in many aspects of their church community. Recently, one of the young members of the mission trip felt inspired by the events of what he saw, and has been planning a “Festival of Service”, along with other young adults in their church. 

“Many times in ministry we find that there are ripple effects from the primary event that are just as, if not more, important than the goals of that primary event.”