Mexico (MNN) — Drug cartels are known for violence and death. However, their presence can also result in Gospel growth. Case-in-point: San Pedro, Mexico.
According to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, the Mexican drug war has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths since 2006. Current cartel violence in Mexico is driving many people, including kids, into the southern U.S.
But some Mexicans, like the residents of San Pedro, have no other option than to stay.
“It’s a very cartel-run community,” says Renee Lilly with Advancing Native Missions (ANM) as she describes San Pedro. “There’s a lot of violence, there’s a lot of drug use; there’s a lot of alcoholism and abuse.”
Yet, San Pedro is where the Lord led brothers Stephen and Philip to begin Seedtime and Harvest Ministries (SHM), an indigenous ministry supported by ANM. Stephen and his wife, Marcela, lead SHM’s ministry in San Pedro, while Philip and wife, Lucy, oversee a business-as-missions branch of SHM in Tepic, Mexico.
“Everything they do is to minister to that community (San Pedro) and to raise it to a different level in the Lord,” Lilly says.
Through Kid’s Clubs, farming, an ESL school, and soccer, SHM missionaries build one-on-one relationships with the people of San Pedro. And, “by doing it one-on-one, it’s growing into these huge positive effects for the community,” shares Lilly.
During a recent visit to San Pedro and Tepic, Lilly met a young nurse who had grown up in SHM’s children’s ministry.
“She suffered incredible abuse and molestation from her family members, but through the Kids’ Program she was able to be saved,” Lilly explains. “She was forgiving them [her abusers] so intensely that they came to the Lord. Now the entire family is serving God.”
Lilly says now that this young woman has her nursing degree, she wants to become a missionary to North Korea.
“It’s beautiful to see the entire discipleship process happening in one individual [and how] it’s actually affecting the nations,” Lilly adds.
While lives are being transformed one-by-one and family-by-family in San Pedro, prayer and funding are continual needs.
“There’s ongoing need for protection for [SHM staff] because it’s a very violent area,” shares Lilly. “But there’s also tremendous financial needs as well.”
One of SHM’s ministries in San Pedro is an “El Calor” soccer team, consisting of 20 young men between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.
”Many, many times they’ve fixed food and they said, ‘Lord Jesus, You’re going to have to multiply it, because we don’t have enough,'” Lilly says.