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A letter from Andres Garcia in Mexico

Spring 2014

Dear friends and family in Christ,

There is a reason for particular gladness for us to be writing our regular newsletter for you from Reynosa, Mexico. To all of you, we send our greetings, feeling deep in our hearts an overwhelming gratitude for God’s love and your faithful support throughout the many years of our mission service.

Andres and Gloria and two Presbyterian Mexican pastors, planing the work of Puentes de Cristo in Reynosa, Mexico (taken by Julie Gonzalez)

Gloria and I didn’t imagine the risk of being abducted that day. It was March 3, 8:30 in the morning. We took our handbags and walked the couple of miles to cross the International Bridge. It was rainy and cold, but the weather conditions didn’t stop us because we had to perform a training session for a group of 11 women in Reynosa.   Crossing the bridge, everything looked normal to us as the traffic of vehicles and people going to Mexico looked as it usually did on earlier occasions. Once we reached the Mexico side we walked toward the little park just across the street and waited for a taxi to stop. It took us a few minutes waving hands to taxi drivers passing by until one that was free stopped. We negotiated the rate of the service and once the deal was done we got in.

The taxi driver was an old man, and this detail gave us the confidence we didn’t rely on with young drivers.  The vehicle began to move and went through the stumbling, dirty, semi-paved streets toward the downtown of Reynosa city. The sudden turn the driver took was uncommon—toward and under the highway bridge, and in a matter of a couple of minutes the driver had us in an isolated spot beside a railroad. A glance at the surroundings made me realize that the scenario had nothing to do with the normal route we had taken before. I asked the driver why he drove under the highway bridge instead of over it. At this point he stopped by the large pillar of the bridge where another vehicle with tinted windows was waiting for him. Gloria and I were in the rear seat of the taxi, and she seemed intrigued when the driver opened his side window and called to one of the two men in the other car. That guy, dressed in dark jeans, leather jacket, and running shoes, with a walkie-talkie, came toward the taxi and stood beside my side window.  He knocked on the window and asked me to open it. At that close distance I saw his machine gun (cuerno de chivo: a remodeled-cut caliber assault weapon) under his jacket. Meanwhile he asked me: “Pa donde van, señor?” (Where are you heading, sir?), and then the driver replied for us: “Hey carnal, son dos personas mayores y van pa Las Cumbres” (Hey brother, they are two seniors and they are going to Las Cumbres). The man looked at me and then glanced at Gloria and her handbag and then said: “It is all right, you can go ahead!”  The driver got in the taxi, slamming its door quickly, and started to leave from under the bridge. At that moment I thought the man with the “cuerno de chivo” was a controller of the taxis co-operative; anyhow, I asked the driver if that guy was a controller or some sort of civil police in service to the taxi co-op. But then he said: “NO, that guy is a member of the Gulf Drug Cartel.” Then I asked him again: "Why did you bring us to him?" The taxi driver replied: “The drug cartel requires all taxis in service to report all customers we carry from the international bridge area.” He added also: “The drug cartel controls most of the things here in Mexico.”

Dressmakers receiving their diplomas after one-year training program at Lucio Blanco Community Center, Reynosa, Mexico. (taken by Clara Lopez)

That day Gloria and I accomplished our duties and made a safe return to Hidalgo. We did not think at that point about the implications of the danger we had faced that day—not until later when we told this story to our accounting manager and some others friends here in Hidalgo. They said: “Brother Andres, Sister Gloria, you have to be thankful to God for being safe and telling the story.…A cloud of angels surrounded you both and made the drug cartel guy think nothing but to let you go safe.…Hundreds of persons are kidnapped in Mexico, and their relatives have to pay ransom. If they don’t, their beloved one is simply added to the list of disappeared people or dead ones found at clandestine graveyards.”

People are learning to live in a culture characterized by criminal violence. That kind of social behavior is atypical and makes people used to living in an ill society. This is not good and it is why the church and other expressions of civil society need to play an active role, teaching people at the level of the local community the values and principles of the gospel that can help people change this social realm. That is what Puentes de Cristo is trying to do through its ministry in Reynosa. It is a small effort, but through faithful prayer and dedicated labor God can make miracles in the lives of individuals and communities. That is why we would like to ask you to pray for:

  1. The ministry of Presbyterian Border Region Outreach—that every one of the six ministry sites on the border may continue their work in faithfulness to Christ.
  2. For the various Mexico-U.S. border presbyteries, local churches, pastors and lay leaders, that they may see how important is their institutional and financial support for mission work in order to make a meaningful impact on the life of people and border towns.
  3. For the Garcias’ next mission interpretation visits. We need your companionship in prayer and financial support for the work of Puentes de Cristo.

Our term of service as PC(USA) mission co-workers is ending on June 30, this year. In the meantime Gloria and I will spend the next three months in mission Interpretation Assignment, and then we will go back to Hidalgo, I to continue serving as Puentes de Cristo’s General Director through December 31, 2015.

HOW YOU CAN BE A PARTNER IN OUR MINISTRY
Make the Garcias’ work a regular part of your prayers. Ask to be part of the Presbyterian Border Region Outreach (www.pcusa.org/border) mailing list so you will receive information about the work. Contribute financially to the support of PC(USA) mission work at Puentes de Cristo, http://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/MI910060/ one of the six validated mission sites of PC(USA) at Mexico-U.S. border.

To God be the praise, honor and glory.
Andres and Gloria Garcia

The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 37
Read more about Andrés and Gloria Garcia's ministry

Write to Andrés Garcia
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Individuals: Give online to MI910060 for Andrés and Gloria Garcia's sending and support
Congregations: Give to D501720 for Andrés and Gloria Garcia's sending and support

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