Pascuala was shot, abused and forced to witness family members killed, but that has only resulted in compassion for the vulnerable and a zeal for Christ.
In the late 1970’s, after several thousand believers from the Mexican state of Chiapas were expelled from their homes and land, they founded their own community, Betania or ‘Bethany’. Pascuala was one of the beleivers who lost her home and started Betania. Though short in stature, Pascuala has abounding compassion, making an impact throughout Chiapas. On a recent trip to Mexico, Open Doors had the chance to visit her and see her ministry.
Pascuala gently takes the hand of Carol, a member of our group, and places it on one side of her face. Guiding her hand, Carol feels the hard pellets still lodged in her face and neck. Twenty-one pellets still under her skin from the blasts of a shotgun which struck Pascuala 50 years ago at just 13 years of age.
They are reminders of a miracle from God. How He turned those scars, physical and emotional, into a life of service for His kingdom in Chiapas, Mexico. She has become an example to others of standing strong in the faith, perseverance, and fearlessness in a region where violence and persecution of Christians continues still.
In 1965, caciques (an indigenous extremist group) came for her and her family knowing they were Christians. After refusing to deny Christ, the gunmen shot Pascuala in the face. Her attackers, thinking she was as good as dead, turned their attention to her home and setting it ablaze. Unable to help, Pascuala watched two of her sisters, still inside the house, succumb to the flames.
Weak, bleeding and naked, Pascuala found the strength to run from her attackers. Finding shelter some way down the road she did not go to hospital till the following day, taking months to eventually recover.
Without the slightest hint of bitterness this amazing women says, “How did I live through that terrible night? It was only through the grace of God. God had his hand on me.”
Apparently her children have encouraged her to have the bullets taken out of her face and neck, but she says no way! “A few years ago I went to the hospital to have an X-ray of my face and neck where the pellets are lodged. They (the doctors) asked me if I had been in a war,” she recalls. “I told my family I am not going to have those bullets taken out. They have never given me any pain over the years. That is a gift from God.”
Pascuala now runs several ministries and has a heart for women who have been widowed or made homeless due to persecution. One of her ministries is teaching women traditional crafts so they might support themselves. During our group’s time with Pascuala, she shows us her beautifully woven wristbands, bookmarks, and other hand-made items for purchase to aid the women’s outreach.
She still holds Bible studies and over the last 50 years has founded 16 churches with her husband Manuel. She also tells us about her experience delivering Bibles into the most dangerous parts of Chiapas.
“We have been stopped by Zapatistas (a violent revolutionary group) a few times while delivering Bibles,” she says. “They ask us if we have weapons in the boxes, hoping to seize them. We tell them we do. So they open up the boxes and see Bibles. And then they let us go.” The Bible-delivery ministry has slowed recently though, due to Manuel’s health.
After chatting for several hours we prepared to leave, stopping us Pascuala asked us to give a greeting to the churches in our respective cities.
“Continue to pray for Christians here; there are still many who suffer for their faith,” she said. “I am thankful for the missionaries and Christian workers who come here and help us in our ministry.”
Pray for the believers in Chiapas and other areas of Mexico, who are persecuted for their faith in Christ. Pray that they would trust in Jesus as their hope and salvation.
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