Is Baja a safe place for you and your family to minister in?
Here is a copy of a recent news letter from the CEO and founder of Baja Christian Ministries, Bob Sanders. BCM works primarily in the Tijuana area. Although Mexico Outreach works primarily in Mexicali and Ensenada, Bob Sander's perspective is still very helpful for us to hear.
Dear BCM Ministry Partner,
Is Baja a safe place for you and your family to minister in? This question is surfacing more and more. Probably you have heard the news stories, media reports, and advisories regarding travel safety in Mexico, including the Tijuana area. I want to address this concern from my perspective as the founder of Baja Christian Ministries (BCM), an organization whose ministry works in Mexico on an ongoing basis.
As a starter, let me say that I have personally been serving "safely" in Tijuana and other parts of Baja for more than 25 years, having founded two ministries, the second being BCM of 16 years that I presently lead. Over those many days and years we have brought hundreds, even thousands, of house building and ministry teams over the border, adding up to tens of thousands of people who have served with us particularly between Tijuana and Tecate. In all that time, we have not witnessed nor seen one case of violence of the type being reported in the news, not even one, thanks to God's amazing grace, guidance and protection! Our great God has graciously protected all of our hundreds of teams, staff members, partners, and families as He promised He would in Psalm 41:1-2:
"Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies."
In conjunction with this great promise of God, I would like to bring some balance to these "warnings and reports" which stir fear and stop some from going into this important mission field. Allow me to swing to the other side of the pendulum to give another perspective. No doubt there is some substance to this concern, yet I feel it has been blown out of proportion as to its actual danger. This may sound absurd to you, but I believe there is a greater chance and danger of being hit and killed by a reckless or drunk driver in the USA than there is of ever even seeing a gun fight in Tijuana or being in a bullet's pathway. Yet we get in our cars everyday without fear...
As a country we experienced riots in Watts, drive by shootings in LA, horrible mass murders at Columbine and other colleges, yet we don't see warnings saying, "Don't go there!" Some of us live less than an hour away from where crimes like these have taken place or are still happening. We didn't leave town and go to another state! I believe we have just as dangerous stuff happening in our own backyards yet we live amongst it proceeding with wisdom and caution. We need to do the same in Baja! We need to go and not hold back!
Also, the places we build houses are not in the areas of danger. Please read through the following article. If you read it's entirety, both the left and right column, and view the video at the bottom entitled, "Baja Security", I believe you will find a more balanced perspective of the situation rather than the sensational twist from the news media:
The media and news in my opinion has sensationalized this into a Baja lynching. Media has a great ability to make a mountain out of a molehill, a grasshopper look like a dinosaur and a spark of concern which should say proceed with caution... appear like an out of control, fearful, run for your lives, blazing forest fire of violence. Yes, there was a certain number of shootings and murders in Tijuana, but not a higher number than those in some of our large cities in the United States.
The greatest part of the problem in Tijuana has to do with "the war on drugs". It consists of Mexican government law enforcement, Mexican army, federal police and local police enforcement pressing out the drug cartels that are trafficking drugs from Mexico to the United States. This has been done in cooperation and largely supported by the United States government. Truth is, the Mexican government is seeing great success in this battle. The problem is that these victories result in the exploiting of the deaths of drug lords and of Mexican law enforcement officers which is viewed through fearful news reporting. Let me state though, that this battle is not against foreigners or foreign short term missionaries like us who are building homes for the poor and sharing Christ's love with them. My staff and our families feel safe traveling in Mexico, provided we use wisdom and precaution. I believe I would feel safer in the worst part of Tijuana at night than I would in worst part of Los Angeles at night.
The most crippling Baja reports have surfaced in the last 6-12 months. During this time many groups and hundreds of people from churches and organizations worldwide have still faithfully continued to serve with us in complete safety. This Christian service is so very needed in Baja right now! The harvest is waiting for us! The San Diego Christian newspaper, Good News Etc., featured a news story entitled "Mission Possible", written by a Adrienne A. Aguirre, from interviews of different Baja missionaries and leaders, including myself, which I wanted to share with you regarding this subject:
As we entire the land over the border, I believe it is necessary for us to overcome the giants of fear to realize our dream of reaching Baja for Christ! Let us pray and believe God... and proceed forward with faith and wisdom!
Please pass this along to concerned group members. Thank you and God bless you!
Founder/CEO of Baja Christian Ministries