Aurelio pastored a church with Gustavo as his assistant at a time of great threat to Christians in Mexico from the Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN). This armed revolutionary organisation from Chiapas, a poverty stricken southern state of Mexico, went public in 1994 with the goal of overthrowing the Mexican government. Many local caciques (village leaders) issued death threats against evangelicals who refused to join the organisation.
On 5 October 1995, Aurelio and Gustavo were shot dead by five armed assailants in an incident that fitted the pattern of ongoing persecution of Christians in Mexico. In the previous year another church leader, Miguel Santiz, had been murdered in an attack along with his wife.
In addition to assassinations such as these, numerous evangelicals have been imprisoned under false allegations and, in 2003, a mob burned down the Wings of the Eagle Church in Los Pozos. These are but a handful of examples in a catalogue of persecution in Mexico’s recent history.
When the day that [Mr Valiant-for-Truth] must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the river side, into which, as he went, he said,
“Death, where is thy sting?” And as he went down deeper, he said, “Grave where is thy victory?” So he passed over and the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.
John Bunyan (1628-88), The Pilgrim’s Progress
Originally published in Heroes of our Faith by Patrick Sookhdeo, Isaac Publishing