By BosNewsLife Americas Service
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (BosNewsLife)– Christian missionaries in Mexico, including foreigners, face more security challenges after a married couple who had served for nearly three decades as Baptist church missionaries were killed, BosNewsLife learned late Friday, February 3.
Americans John Casias, 76, and Wanda Casias, 67, were found strangled Tuesday, January 31, with electrical cords when one or more intruders broke into their house in Santiago, Nuevo Leon.
Christians said the attacker stole a safe, televisions and mission group vehicles, along with other items. Mexican investigators told reporters that they suspect they knew their attacker because no doors or locks were forced.
Their children said they knew the dangers in the area, where they had worked for some 29 years.
The couple was murdered about one year after another missionary from the American State of Texas was killed in Mexico.
Sam and Nancy Davis were driving out of Mexico in January 2011 when gunmen tried to stop their truck about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Reynosa. When they refused to stop, the gunmen fired, killing Nancy Davis, Christians and officials said. The Davises, too, had done missionary work in Mexico for three decades.
Sam Davis has since gone into hiding, his mother, Francille Davis, told the Associated Press news agency this week. “They’re still wanting to kill him,” she said of the gunmen. Davis, who lives in South Texas, said she did not know where her son was, but did not think he had returned to Mexico as a missionary.
The area where the elderly couple was killed this week was known for attacks by drug cartels, including the murder of a mayor.
With violence increasing at least some mission groups have taken additional security measures with some starting to send volunteers to the same security training camps corporations and aid groups have used for years to prepare their employees for risky overseas assignments.
“For all of our new missionaries in recent years it is mandatory that they get security training commensurate with the risk level in that country,” said John David Smith, executive director of the Baptist Missionary Association of America Department of Mission, which has four families currently volunteering in Mexico according to its website.
His organization also has put in place other safety measures such as forbidding missionaries from driving in and out of Mexico, which would force them to travel through more dangerous border areas.
The latest developments have underscored tensions between devoted Christians and non-believers and traditional churches.
In Mexico’s Puebla state authorities have however intervened after Protestant Christians said they were threatened with expulsion and even death by Catholics.
Pressured by officials, Catholics in San Rafael Tlanalapan agreed however to allow evangelicals to construct a worship place in the town far from the Catholic church building, Christians said.
Mexican media reported that local Catholics claimed that a local priest incited them to make this threat, including crucifixion. Catholic extremists had threatened to destroy the homes of dozens of Christians.