The racial conflict in Mexico is deeply embedded.
The indigenous tribes we minister to are so oppressed by the majority - mestizos* - that their voices are almost impossible to hear. That is why we target abandoned villages deep in the mountains of Mexico. We want to go to places that are hard to reach, to cultures that are closed off to outsiders, to hearts that are hardened by years of oppression galvanized into debilitating offense. It. Is. Hard. It takes years of consistency, love, honor, and courage to watch Jesus unwind 499 years of oppression. And He does. The power of God transforms their hearts, minds, lives, souls, histories.
But what do we do when mestizos come to us, seeking answers for their own lost and dying souls? We introduce them to Jesus. We bring them to church, which in our context is the home of an Aztec family: dirt floors, bamboo walls, tin roofs, no chairs. Poverty. Mestizos sit on wooden planks alongside Aztecs and worship Jesus. It is a miracle - and a powder keg of conflict. The differing worldviews, experiences, and histories inevitably clash, offense is born, and people fall away from the only true Source of Life because of it.
The socio-economic and racial gap between the tribal people and mestizos poses challenges that can at times seem insurmountable. When mestizos meet Jesus, our hearts rejoice, but our consciousness is wary with the knowledge that only Jesus - only Jesus - can erase hundreds of years of racism and violence and build a bridge of understanding and compassion between two hostile groups.
Does that mean we should keep mestizos from entering the doors of our churches? Does that mean that we stop trying to reach the indigenous, stop peeling back layers of anger to reach the hurting heart? It would certainly be easier to have a ministry either focused on mestizos or on the indigenous. But that is not the heart of Jesus. He died for them - why would we reject one group or keep them separated to avoid conflict? Conflict is the opportunity for transformation.
But it is hard. I can’t tell you how many times over the years my human heart has burned with anger at one group or the other for their insensitivity, or how many times I have had to check myself because I was taking on another person’s offense as my own. The only position I can take in that moment is laying on my face in prayer asking that the Creator, the Savior, would teach me to be an ambassador of His Kingdom, not my own. And then to pick myself up, to go sit in their homes, share a meal, talk and listen and exhort and correct and encourage towards righteousness. Not self-righteousness. The righteousness of Christ.
A few weeks ago, that powder keg of misunderstanding and tension reared its ugly head in our ministry in Mexico. The perspectives of an indigenous pastor and a mestizo pastor collided. I want to share the story because it is the only hope I have for how we are going to move forward in seeing unity forged among diverse racial and socio-economic groups. The agency of the Holy Spirit and the humility of His saints is the only way to move us forward.
Our indigenous pastor, Carlos**, has a 3rd grade education. He has been faithful to the gospel for 16 years in spite of intense persecution. Jesus revealed scripture to him in dreams as he sought to improve his ability to read. He prayed for his dead grandson and saw Jesus raise him to life. He has become legendary for his joyous smile as he discipled and taught others the scripture in an incredibly challenging environment.
Our mestizo pastor, Mario**, has a college education. He has been faithful to the gospel for 16 years, also in spite of intense persecution. God miraculously rescued him from terrorists, causing bullets fired at point-blank range not to hit him. He has recently chosen to give up his considerable influence in the community in order to dedicate himself to the ministry of the Gospel.
Misunderstanding and misinterpretation of “work ethic,” “arrogance,” and “effectiveness” caused Mario to dishonor Carlos. Mario’s heart is passionate to see the Gospel expand in the community - but his perception of his brother in Christ was flawed, because he could only see from his own experience. In response, Carlos allowed the narrative of his people - oppression and abuse - to cloud his judgment and perception of his brother’s heart, causing him to shut down communication and open up offense.
But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus stepped into the picture. He moved upon the hearts of his children - Carlos and Mario - to give them an opportunity to put aside their hurt and their pride. Other believers, with the boldness that comes from love, challenged them privately to reconsider the “justification” of their actions against one another. And they chose to humble themselves and extend love towards one another.
Mario sent us a Whatsapp message about what happened at a church gathering the following week:
"Brother… this (picture) is from just a moment ago... I was just telling my son that I hugged my brother Carlos, and from the moment I opened my arms, he came up, leaned against my chest, and said, “Come on, let’s talk.” And we went over to the place I showed you in the picture - over where we were talking. I feel like today was a true reconciliation. Thank you for confronting me.
Thank you for being an instrument of the Holy Spirit. Because yesterday after we spoke, I was supposed to share (from the scripture) here at the house… my wife shared something and with what you shared with me, I felt strongly reprimanded. The Holy Spirit touched my heart. And coming here today, there was my brother, Carlos! … and I tell you the truth, I opened my arms and he came to my arms, and we gave one another an embrace of love, of brotherhood. So, Brother, the Holy Spirit is speaking very strongly. We are going to do amazing things for the Kingdom of God."
This is the answer to division, to historical oppression, to violence and offense. Humility, love, honesty, and the agency of the Holy Spirit. JESUS.
It is hard work. It is exhausting. It is emotional. It is scary. But the ministry of reconciliation is ours.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
We must do what it takes to bridge the gaps in our own understanding, stand ready to humble ourselves for the sake of the oppressed, and lay our lives down to bring reconciliation to Christ and to one another.
Stay obedient. Minister reconciliation.
Britt and Audrey Hancock
Here is the Spanish transcript of the Whatsapp memo that we translated:
Hermano, querido hermano, esto es ahorita… Ahorita estoy contando a mi hijo* que lo abracé mi hermano, y desde el momento en que le abrí los brazos él se vino y se redujo en mi pecho, y le dije, «Vente, vamos a platicar». Y nos la pasamos allá donde le mostré la foto - allí donde nosotros estamos platicando. Siento que hoy, una reconciliación verdadera. Gracias por hablar conmigo…
Gracias por ser instrumento del Espíritu Santo. Porque ayer después de que hablamos, le tocó compartir aquí en la casa… Y mi esposa* compartió algo, con lo que compartió, me reprendió muy fuerte. El Espíritu Santo tocó mi corazón. Y hoy a llegar allí, allí estaba mi hermano, Carlos*. «¿Cómo estás?» …y la verdad me abrí los brazos, y él se vino a mis brazos y nos dimos un abrazo de amor, de hermandad. Entonces, hermano, el Espíritu Santo está hablando muy fuerte. Vamos a hacer cosas muy grandes para el reino de Dios.
** Names have been changed.
*The word mestizo has multiple meanings in certain circles. We have chosen to use it in the same manner as the Mexican nationals in the states where we work; to refer to the people group that were born from the union of Europeans from the Iberian Peninsula with the indeginous nations of what is now Mexico.
When the Lord first told Britt to go on this Prayer Journey, he saw an image of the tips of roots emerging from the ground. It broke concrete,foundations, and buildings - the objects made by man . He knew that the LORD wanted to call roots of righteousness to rise up and break the bonds of man - to grow again with new life.
Britt’s vision of the roots continued as we went to each capital. Many times as he prayed around the capitol buildings, he saw the roots there. He feels a growing inertia that God’s zeal has started to make things happen.
We began our Prayer Journey in Denver, Colorado, one mile above sea level. A homeless man named Pedro (Peter) asked us for money. Pedro means “rock” and Audrey was reminded that Jesus said that “upon this rock you will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” At the highest capital in our nation, we prayed for the Lord to be glorified. The capitol building had fences around it and boarded up windows. Evidence of the past riots. May injustice be broken and may there be liberty and justice for all.
Wyoming is the Cowboy State. Britt had a vision of a cowboy who got punched in the mouth and knocked down. He spit blood on the ground and got up and kept going. Undaunted. Not knocked off course. Not fighting back. We felt overwhelming peace in Cheyenne. May the people of this state be resolute to follow the ways of God. May they pursue the peace of God.
We felt love for the Native Americans in Pierre, South Dakota, and repented for how they were mistreated and abused. The state will not be known for the negative aspects of its history but for the new that is coming.
Britt saw roots that created a wall surrounding a deep pool of blue-green water. May this state be refreshed and know it is not forgotten. May the people of South Dakota look up in hope,know who they are called to be and walk in that identity. May they make decisions according to the heart of God. This is a new day.
Bismarck, North Dakota’s capitol is a high rise building. It’s the tallest building for miles. May this state be a solid pillar, an oak of righteousness. May the peace we felt in the parks around the building be on all the people.
Montana is the Treasure State with the motto of Oro y Plata (Silver and Gold). Acts 3:6 “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” We prayed for conflict to end, for the people of Montana to receive the treasures of God, and officials elected who will promote Kingdom values. This state exports influence.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 9, two weeks before we arrived, 100+ mph hurricane-force winds uprooted and broke branches off of the large trees on the beautiful capitol grounds and were being cleaned up while we were there. Locals say there has never been anything like it before. We prayed that God would remove unrighteous branches and uproot wickedness. This is an impressive capitol with beautiful walking trails. It is pristine, clean, and orderly where families can safely go. May this be reflective of righteousness on the inside of the.
While praying Britt saw roots that circled the buildings and obscured the buildings from view. The following morning (Sept. 22, 2020), a sound of crushing woke him up. It was a sound in the Spirit. Two buildings next to the State Capitol were being crushed by roots.
The capitol building in Boise, Idaho, is solid and beautiful on the outside and amazingly beautiful on the inside. This is the Gem State and has hidden treasure. Britt saw roots holding up the capitol building. There were new shoots and growth coming from old roots.
Britt was amazed at the statues around the capitol building that celebrated the roots of the Gospel there - a circuit riding preacher and a missionary. Salem means ‘peace’ in Hebrew. There is a peace here that needs to be tapped into. Strengthen the battle weary Christians across the state. Empower the churches to have an emboldened message of beauty in creative ways.
A man was washing graffiti off the capitol building. People here celebrate and fight for righteous ideas like equality and justice and love, yet twist how those should be expressed. A local couple joined us for prayer and one of them saw a vision of a rock formation that was twisted and little rocks fell off and a good chain pulled down wickedness. There was a good shifting and breaking.
Britt heard a sound in the roots. Irresistible sonic vibrations are going on underground all the time. They are like what caused the walls of Jericho to fall.
The internationally famous Underground Tour of Pendleton showcases the red light district hidden during the construction of the railroad. The largest organism in the state is a fungus that is underground and under the bark of trees that covers 2,000 acres. May any wicked thing underground be exposed. Portland - ‘port’ means ‘carry’ in Latin. May Portland be a city that carries the peace of God to this land and not have any more riots. Bless the churches in Portland to rise up in power and anointing.
We felt opposition yet hope in Washington. It was raining when we arrived, no surprise in Olympia! One of our team had a vision of a man in a prison cell shaking the bars and yelling, “Freedom!” She heard a clinking sound and saw that the state flag was wet and stuck around the pole. It wasn’t flying free. We went to the top of the stairs of the “Temple of Justice'' and prayed. While praying, the sun broke through the clouds, the wind blew, and the state flag began to fly. May the Son of God bring light and freedom to people’s hearts!
This state is famous for its godless laws. They provided abortions on request before the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade. Britt saw a vision of a lady with a crown on her head, dressed in an ancient Greek robe. Roots arose from the ground, knocked the crown off of her head, and swept her off her feet. As she fell, her head broke off like Dagon in the Bible. The worship of ideals such as democracy and justice can cause a toppling of the truth when people decide to follow their own moral truth rather than the truth of God.
Britt and Audrey got a negative COVID test and were able to go pray at the capitol in Juneau. They were only there for 13 hours, but know that placing their feet on the ground made a difference. They were met at the airport by a local pastor and his wife who drove them to the capitol and joined them in prayer. On the short drive we watched the sunset on the water and they said it was unusually clear weather. Juneau was a quiet town. Calm. Britt saw living roots that are tough and strong. Not woody but coils of green living roots. Lord, may the people of Alaska be strong in righteousness and not complacent. May they have clear vision from you.
We were grateful to find at least 3 other teams praying at the capitol. There were also protests and people with bullhorns. Families walked around the park. People prayed and sang. It was a battleground - and we felt like the light of Jesus was winning. It is a place that is diverse, strong, resistant, contested. It is an impacting state for good and for bad. Britt saw that it is the tip of the spear. It is our most prosperous state. Intertwined roots are in deep treasure that is yet to be mined. They thrive even in the desert. Lord, touch this state that it may shine your glory.
The Victorian capitol is hidden by a forest of trees in the middle of town. Trees planted by someone many years ago, thinking of providing shade for the future. The Lord has kept life here. We felt that there are things - good and bad - hidden from view. It can cause confusion. Britt saw an image of a hollow candy cane. The walls were not stable. It represented the founding of the state. No nutrition, not satisfying, and causes teeth to rot. It is only tasty for a moment.
The capitol grounds were empty of people. It felt desolate and a bit scary. But when you looked, you found life. It is the way of the desert. There is a spiritual anointing that is hard to immediately see because of its prickly-cactus nature. There are many Native Americans in the state. We prayed for the President and Vice President of the Navajo nation and all the other tribes. Many individuals are caught in addiction and despair. They are unstable. Lord, may these people find true healing and may a Great Awakening happen in their hearts and spread across the nation.
One of our team heard in his spirit a native chant and drums. Tribalism and witchcraft are in the roots and founding. It is one of the oldest settlements in the nation and there is old resistance. It seems to be a place of mental toughness, yet also panic and fear. There is offense in many, yet also great potential. Aristocratic patricians have dominated people and made them feel unworthy. A good wind of change is coming. Revival can start here.
The beautiful capitol building is in the shape of a cross. Seven oak trees are on the grounds and three people heard the Lord speak about oaks of righteousness. This land was meant for righteousness to prevail. Pride and greed are warring over the land. Roots in this state give a centering stability. There is a dry fountain by the flags to the tribal nations. There has been strife and division. May the people of Oklahoma tap into the river of living water and the well that never runs dry. May they not have false hope. May marriages be strong and people not be hurt and irritated. There have been riots and murders. May the blood of Jesus flow on the land and bring unity where there has been division. Prayer is working. Ears and hearts are turning.
God wants Texas to lead in righteousness and it will have the opportunity to lead differently. Roots were physically breaking up a sidewalk and one of our team prayed for the roots of God to burst out and for righteousness to prevail. There is a contention for righteousness. There have been six flags over Texas. It has been fought over. There is pride and self assurance and arrogance in being a Texan. Britt saw roots holding up the Lone Star and it shone brightly. 2 Peter 1:19.
Texas is at a crossroads. Jezebel is warring strongly against this state because God is bringing the nations to Texas and deploying missionaries throughout the world and creating divine relationships. It is a hub for what the Lord is doing. The University of Texas has a saying, “What begins here changes the world.” There is a flag that says, “Come and Take It”. Texans must have the confidence to stand firm in what is right, even when others try to take it away.
1 Timothy 2:1-2“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”
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