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    Prayers, assistance sought after massacre of Chiapas Indians


    Following the shocking news of the latest massacre of 45 Indians many of whom were praying in a church in Chenalho, Chiapas, Mexico, on Dec. 22, an urgent appeal for prayer, blankets, farm tools, Scriptures and financial aid for the much-persecuted Christian Indians of that region of Southern Mexico, has been issued by a veteran missionary to Latin America.

    In the massacre, 21 women were killed, 9 men, 14 children, and a two-year-old child. The appeal was made by Dr. Dale Kietzman, founder and president of Latin American Indian Ministries of Orange, Calif., and a former Latin American and later US director of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

    Kietzman made the appeal after hearing heart-wrenching reports from Juan Vazquez Luna, 15, about the slaughter which took the lives of most of Luna’s family. In an interview with David Tamez, the Mexican-born executive director of Latin American Indian Ministries, he said, “I was praying inside a humble church when I heard the first shots …. I went out and saw many people carrying and shooting rifles. I ran along with the others toward the river and some of us hid ourselves in caves. After several hours we came out and saw many bodies lying along the river. I am lucky to be alive…my parents and four sisters were killed, and my other three brothers were wounded.”

    “Around 5,000 Indians have run away from their own communities to save their lives and in search for a better and safe refuge for their families,” said Tamez. “In 1997 we have seen one of the most difficult years for the Chiapas people because at least 500 people were killed in different villages for the ‘crime’ of embracing the Christian faith.”

    Kietzman said, “I will be visiting Chiapas the latter part of January to find out how we can best give encouragement and support to the survivors of this vicious, unprovoked attack. “We also want to offer support to other believers who are fearing for their lives in the region torn by political and religious strife. On the one hand you have the four-year military conflict between the Zapatista revolutionaries and the government. Add to that the struggle between the growing evangelical Christian populace (some say as high as 40 percent) and the traditionalists or Christo-pagan Catholics who have run evangelical Christians off their own farmlands and from their tribal communities, burning houses and killing men, women and children because of their refusal to continue in a pagan lifestyle. This has been going on for 30 years, unchecked by the authorities.”

    Kietzman has asked Christians around the world to come to the aid of these suffering Indians. “There is something all of us can do to help relieve the suffering of these brothers and sisters, in Jesus’ name. We can and must stand with the Suffering Saints on our own continent.” To contact Latin American Indian Ministries, write: PO Box 2050, Orange, CA 92859.

    Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times).

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