Cameron and I (Alan) joined my brother-in-law and his family for a brief trip across the border into the northern Mexico city of Ciudad Juarez. Beth and Dayton stayed behind as there just wasn’t room for everyone to go and Beth really needed some rest and Dayton was a willing volunteer to stay behind to help us all fit into the truck.
Ciudad Juarez is right across the narrow Rio Grande River along the New Mexico, Texas, Mexico border. The metropolitan part of the city is right across from El Paso, Texas. It is one of the most violent cities (per capita) in the world. The first three months of 2010 averaged 38 murders per day. The rate has fallen some since those bloody days. This past weekend the local news reported 17 murders on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. On Saturday, a section of downtown street (a street we drove on both Saturday and Sunday) was closed in El Paso because of a shootout on the Juarez side of the river. Bullets were falling on the El Paso side during this gun battle so a section of the street in the U.S. was closed due to safety concerns. One stray bullet apparently found its way through a glass door and into a wooden door frame in a building belonging to the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).
With that as a context, we drove to a more rural international crossing and basically approached the rural edge of Juarez from the south. We saw nothing alarming and the trip went well. We enjoyed a couple hours of sitting with the believers that Ken & Esme are ministering to and prayed with them. They are quite poor and have very little. They raise pigs to sell, chickens for eggs, and have very few other options for making any income. I don’t feel it is wise to share any photos with them in it or to mention them by name. The violence in Juarez comes in many forms and circulating a photo of them on the Internet could inadvertently make them a target in any number of ways. That might be a slight risk but it is best not to take that risk for them.
We heard a loud pop while we were chatting with them and Esme asked, “What was that?” One of our hosts said, “A gunshot.” We hoped it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. The trip was “routine” and there were no issues. We praised God for the safe experience and the opportunity to encourage the believers by our visit and prayer with them. It was definitely a highlight for us to be able to see this ministry in a very challenging part of Mexico.