More often than not, children are the first ones to witness harassment and persecution against Christians in their own rural communities. They see it happening to friends and relatives, even to their own parents.
Rosi was 12 when she entered the local prison in the community of Yatzil 3 Lagunas in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico. She went there to visit her mother Rosario, who had been arrested, together with other Christians, for professing their faith in Jesus.
She was at home with her four siblings when her mother went out to get some groceries at the local market. There was nothing left in the fridge and her mother needed to get some food to feed her family. Sensing something could happen to her while away shopping, Rosario told her children what to do in case she didn´t return: “If I don’t come back, go to your aunt’s house and stay there,” she said.
Rosario’s worst nightmare came true almost as soon as she had left the house. Rosi saw a group of men grab her mother and take her away. “When I saw my mother being taken away, I took our house keys and we all went to my auntie´s home. We did what my mother told us,” Rosi recalled in a conversation with Open Doors.
“I was terrified but had to be strong and brave”
During her stay in their aunt’s house, Rosi and her brothers took turns to keep watch, pray for her mother’s release and perform short religious services. The night her grandfather took them all to see their mother is still fresh in her mind.
“When we arrived, we noticed that a group of residents from our community were filming us. My mother was there, surrounded by these armed people. They accused her of being a witch and of other false claims. She kept telling them it was not true, that they were penalizing her because of her Christian faith.”
One of Rosi’s brothers, Josue, was nine at the time. He shared with Open Doors what he recalled of the incident. “The people gathered there said they would also put us children behind bars. During the time we were hiding together with our aunt, we were hungry, thirsty and desperate to go to the toilet, but we couldn’t go out. Although I was terrified of all the people I could see from our window ̶̶ all armed with sticks, machetes and stones ̶ I just thought to myself that if my mom was being so strong, I also had to be strong and brave.”
“I was afraid they were going to kill my mother”
Another of Rosario’s children, seven-year-old Kevin, remembered he was very afraid of what could happen to his mother. “I was the youngest of all the siblings and, even though I didn’t cry, I was very afraid. I thought these people were going to kill my mother.”
During his conversation with Open Doors, Kevin recalled that he lacked an appetite and didn’t eat anything for days. He didn’t feel like playing either.
“I wasn’t the happy child I used to be. For a whole year after that incident, I wet the bed and I had to use nappies every night. I´m still ashamed of this but that’s how things were back then.”
Open Doors Mexico intervened
As soon as the case was known by OD, the organization intervened to provide legal assistance to those imprisoned. While conducting interviews, Open Doors Mexico realized Rosario´s children needed urgent help to overcome the trauma of seeing their mother being persecuted and imprisoned.
Rosario and others in her house, as well as 15 other families, took part in a workshop to heal traumatic experiences. The main focus of the workshop was to help women and children who have suffered abuse and violence in their own indigenous communities.
After the workshop, Rosi was able to forgive her mom’s aggressors but what she cannot bear yet is the idea of going back to the community in Chiapas she and her family once belonged to, Yatzil 3 Lagunas.