On the 16th September Mexico celebrated it's 203rd Independence Day!
On the 15th September Mexico begins one of the most important dates in their calendar with the 'Grito' (shout) of Independence day. The 'grito' is where the President (and Mayors of each town around Mexico) shouts 'Viva' and the whole crowd shouts 'viva' back to him, and then he shouts 'viva México' and the whole crowd shouts viva México back etc! This is done in memory of the night when Hidalgo cried out to the native Mexicans and lower classes to rise up and take back the lands stolen from their forefathers. This was after 300 years of brutal Spanish rule where the poorer Mexicans were oppressed and exploited. (It's interesting that the Israelites too were slaves for 400 years before God rescued them from Egypt).
(Picture of the main city square where the palace is situated. Here the President delivers the 'Grito' on the night of the 15th September)
There are mixed emotions in Mexico on this historic day. For Mexico is still in turmoil and many are still being oppressed or exploited. Not least the street children. Although they too join in with the frivolities, they cannot say they are truly free. Most of them are still very much in bondage to the drugs, prostitution and exploitation they experience each day on the streets. I was recalling a story I heard of a girl who had been rescued by a street boy. She had been kept chained in a basement for several years and repeatedly raped. The street boy had stumbled across her and had somehow managed to free her. They escaped to another town and it was there they encountered God, they got married, and are now running a small house church together. We are in the process of starting up a branch here in Mexico of another OMS ministry called 'Hope 61' which aims to educate and raise awareness amongst churches of the reality of human trafficking and the sex trade here in Mexico. Slavery is still very much alive - not just here but all over the world, and it often goes unnoticed and unhindered, sadly even by the church.
There is also much oppression that still goes on even at government level, and the 43 students that were killed last year (in complicity with the Mayor of the town), and more recently the killing of journalist Rubén Espinosa (the 14th journalist to be killed in Veracruz) and of human rights activist Nadia Vera and 3 other women show that there is still much injustice and corruption in this country.
We pray for true freedom for people here - for freedom from all the chains that bind them. For freedom in Christ, for He is truly the one who can set people free from the physical, emotional and spiritual oppression that we see everyday here.
So in a spirit of remembrance, but also of prayer for the people to recognise their ongoing need for freedom, we joined with Nisha and Anya's school to shout with them 'Viva México'. Below are some pictures of Nisha and Anya with their teachers. Anya is dressed in the typical costume of Veracruz (the town mentioned above), and both of them did a special dance for the occasion which they thoroughly enjoyed and gave us plenty of previews of! Of course Charlie had to dress up a bit as well for the occasion!