When hearing and reading the news reports of upticks in drug-related violence in Mexico we are reminded of how important it is to put things in context and to think about the larger picture. Mexico is a very big and diverse country and even along the border there are substantial differences between cities, communities and states. Our ministry area encompasses the border region from Yuma to San Diego or San Luis Rio Colorado to Tijuana, in Mexico.
The two largest cities are Mexicali and Tijuana. Mexicali, a city of over one million, has remained calm. Life continues much as normal. There simply has never been a marked increase in violence. Tijuana, on the other hand, has seen a real surge in violence over the past three years. That violence continues, including much bloodshed between police and drug-related gangs and between the drug families themselves, as they use all kinds of brutal tactics in their quest for control of the market. However, the current violence has taken on a less public nature. Indiscriminate killing and display of bodies, for example, are far less common than two years ago. In all of this, the churches and schools with whom we minister continue their normal activities, including evening and night activities, and community outreach. The violence has demanded extra precautions and heightened awareness on part of us all. Yet the overwhelming attitude of our Mexican partners is summed up in the words of one Tijuana pastor, "God has called us here to what has become a city of violence and we rest assured in Him as we continue to share and demonstrate the Good News of Jesus."
It's always good, and often enlightening, to hear what is on the hearts and minds of our Mexican colleagues in times as this. There has been some talk of the violence in Mexico, but that centers around what seems to be the current zones of heightened conflict, in the Mexican border states to the east of us. It is also interesting to note that the current topic of concern for Mexican church leaders with whom we serve, as expressed in fellowship and study times this summer, lies across the border in the United States, and in particular, with the disheartening and seemingly more hostile debate over immigration.