Church Still Terrified After the Murder of Its 24-Year-Old Pastor

A soldier stands guard after a blockade set by members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel to repel security forces during an anti-fuel theft operation.
A soldier stands guard after a blockade set by members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel to repel security forces during an anti-fuel theft operation. (REUTERS/Edgard Garrido)

Priests are at grave risk in Mexico and Colombia, yet little attention is being paid to the recent scourge of violence against members of the clergy.

For example, reports Independent Catholic News, police aren't even investigating the December murder of Father Raul Cervera Millan in southern Mexico. Then, in Colombia, a church congregation is still terrified after the murder of its pastor, 24-year-old Leider Molina, who was killed just after preaching at his church last month, according to the World Watch Monitor.

These are just two tragic instances among many that occur worldwide. Save the Persecuted Christians, which advocates on behalf of 300 million Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, says if Christians are more aware of the attacks being carried out on priests and ministers, they can urge that criminals be held accountable.

"Many Americans have vacationed in Mexico yet aren't aware that priests there are targeted by gangs who kidnap them to collect big ransoms or kill them to end their leadership in communities the cartels hope to control," said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. "Millions of believers worldwide are guided, prayed for and baptized by priests and members of the clergy. But when these leaders are attacked, incredible fear is instilled into the hearts and minds of the faithful, and they can become afraid to gather as a church. The attackers know this."

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For endangered clergy in Mexico and Colombia, and other brave ministers worldwide, Save the Persecuted Christians seeks to bring awareness about targeted Christians through the "The People of the Cross" exhibit, a series of vertical traveling banners that details Christian persecution in various countries around the world.

The exhibit's panel on Mexico reports that, until recently, priests didn't even have the right to vote. As secular ideology flourishes and its populace elects socialist leaders, Mexico is increasingly hostile to religious expression.

"Often corrupt and violent, Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places for clergy," the Mexico panel reads. "Drug-gangs ruthlessly murder priests and pastors, and indigenous leaders attack converts to Christianity, often without fear of arrest."

Banners also feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; Nigeria and East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches are demolished. A majority of the countries highlighted in the banners are high on Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List, including Mexico (No. 39) and Colombia (No. 47).

"The People of the Cross" exhibit premiered in July 2018 at the U.S. Capitol as a side event to the first-ever U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Since then, it has toured the United States, reaching tens of thousands. "The People of the Cross" exhibit is available for churches, public venues and special events. To learn more about hosting "The People of the Cross," contact Save the Persecuted Christians or visit the website, where all the panels are available to view online.

The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by holding the persecutors accountable and creating costs for their crimes against humanity. To that end, it will disseminate actionable information about the magnitude of such crimes and bring to bear a movement of concerned Americans determined to hold persecutors accountable for such crimes and create real costs for perpetrating them against those who follow Jesus.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, which released its biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World in November, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world's Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.

Because most of these crimes are not covered in the media, Save the Persecuted Christians developed a dedicated news aggregator—ChristianPersecutionNews.comto capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.

With so much of the world's Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, such as clergy in Mexico and Colombia, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC's SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.

Listen to the podcast to hear Frank Gaffney, who launched STPC, discuss the organization and its vital work.

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