By BosNewsLife Americas Service
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (BosNewsLife)-- Some 25 evangelical Christians have refused to leave a troubled area in Mexico's western Jalisco state despite facing persecution in an area where members of the Wixárika tribe hold pagan rituals involving the use of a hallucinogenic drug and sacrifices offered to their 'gods', Christian leaders say.
Many other converted followers of Christ have faced alienation, eviction from their communities, and separation from their families for refusing to take part in the ancient tribal rituals, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
Omar Rodriguez, who leads a church in the Jalisco state capital of Guadalajara, said he supports persecuted Christians residing in the Tuxpan and Bolaño communities. "We are convicted that God gave us the Great Commission," he explained in reference to Christ's call in the Bible to evangelize the world.
"When He said to go out to the whole world, that includes our indigenous friends and compatriots who also have a need
to fill the emptiness in their hearts," Rodriguez added in published remarks.
The Christians are reportedly taking steps to build bridges. Newly elected tribal officials were recently invited to a believer's home where food was "graciously" provided, Christians said.
Local evangelicals reportedly said they hope these gestures will help to build good relations with the new officials and that another meeting took place with authorities on April 8 to discuss ways to ensure a more harmonious existence with non-Christian villagers.
Rodriguez called the meeting a "very important" step and "could be the start of something."
In a message to supporters advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada said there "are signs of hope that, in time, Christian Wixárikas will be able to live peacefully amongst their fellow tribal people, especially those who are in desperate need of deliverance from spiritual bondage through the power of Jesus who is risen indeed!".