The Other Mexico 

An Article for the October 2000 Deep Cove Crier
By Ken Bell

Mexico!  A country with stunning beaches, beautiful resort towns, full of tourists, and a very rich and colourful history. Mexico is gradually becoming more and more stable both politically and economically although it is still facing the problems associated with a democratic system.  It is one of the leading oil-producing countries in the world, and is diversifying its exports Mexico also supplies the rest of North America with most of its produce in the winter months.  It is a country which is trying to break out of its "third world" label to be seen as a developed nation on the wold stage.

There is, however, another Mexico that most visitors from North America miss.  Travel a couple hundred kilometres from the tourist areas and the other Mexico begins to show itself: a country of extreme poverty, exploitation, infringements on personal freedoms and religious persecution.

This year at St. Simon's, we took two missions trips to Mexico. An group of eight adults went down in March and a group of 34, composed mostly of youth, went down in August. We went to a medical clinic site called, Clinica La Esperanza, about 350 km south of the San Diego border. We worked with Mexican and American missionaries, whose purpose it is to bring medical services and the hope of Jesus Christ to the migrant workers, mostly Mexican Indians, who work in the fields.  These Indians live in conditions that we in Canada would not allow our dogs to live in.  They are exploited for their labour so that we can buy tomatoes in December for $1.99 a pound.  After all if they were paid a livable wage, tomatoes would cost four times that. They are not allowed into hospitals or schools, neither are they allowed to vote or get a passport to leave the country.  They are not "people"!

Our trips begin with excitement and hope, and varying levels of expectations and fears.  At some point on the trip though, everyone's heart is broken by the things that break the heart of Jesus and our lives are changed forever. It might be in seeing the way the people live, or in having a half-naked child run up to you, hug you and ask you for a piggy-back ride. It might be in seeing these people who have nothing pouring out their hearts to Jesus as they worship in church. It might be while you're shivering under the night sky, knowing that you don't have to sleep on a piece of cardboard that night. It might be in seeing the love of Jesus in the hearts of the servant missionaries, or in the way that the Gospel of Jesus Christ provides such hope and promise to these people who live in darkness. Whatever it is, your heart is broken when you feel Jesus weeping over those He loves, and you realize that He is also weeping for you.

The world can not provide a permanent answer to all the poor suffering people in the world today.  Even if we redistributed all the wealth evenly so that everyone had the same material things and same access to education, within a generation we would be right back to where we started.  The only thing that can make a difference for everyone in the world, for eternity is this; knowing Christ and Him crucified.  I know it sounds overly simplistic and it probably is, but our time on earth is like a blink of an eye in comparison to eternity and the issue we are really dealing with is a simple one; eternity with Jesus Christ or eternity without Jesus Christ.

It is not possible to say all that needs to be said about our experience in Mexico in a short newspaper article.  If you would like to hear more about it, members of our team would love to meet with you as an individual or a community group, or just answer your questions. There is so much more to say about what we saw, heard and experienced.   Please feel free to call Ken Bell at St. Simon's church 604-929-1625.

Ken Bell (Youth Pastor)
St. Simon's Anglican Church

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