|Pastor Josué Ramírez Santiago|
(Photo Assist News)
At approximately 8:15 a.m. on April 10, a group of men armed with machine guns barged into the Christian Center El Shaddai where some 500 Christians were gathered for a worship service. The men fired guns into the air and grabbed Pastor Josué Ramírez Santiago.
The following day, the pastor's family received news that the criminals wanted a ransom of 20 million pesos (approximately $1.6 million CAD). Even if the family could raise such an immense sum, it is unlikely that payment would secure the pastor's safe return.
Local Christians have reported that organized crime syndicates and drug cartels often target Christians because they view churches as revenue centers.
"Some 100 Mexican or foreign pastors who lived in Ciudad Juarez have had to abandon the city because of the threats and demands for money," said Arturo Farela, director of the National Fraternity of Evangelical Churches. He also noted that many pastors and their families had been victims of extortion, threats, kidnapping and homicide.
Pray Pastor Josué will be released and safely returned home. Pray for protection for evangelical Christians suffering persecution. Pray for God's peace to reign in regions of Mexico currently embroiled in violence and crime. Pray God's people will be equipped and emboldened to serve their Lord faithfully, even amid great opposition.