Rogelio and Lupita Avila
La Cofradia, Haimatzie, Jalisco, Mexico
Luis and Amelia Carrillo
Tenzompa, Haimatzie, Jalisco, Mexico
Rogelio, Lupita, Luis and Amelia are part of an indigenous group of Mexico called Huichol (Wee-chole). They have been isolated for centuries in the mountains of Mexico, holding fast to the traditions of their people group and resisting all outside influences.
The Huichol tradition is based on a religion of many gods who may be appeased by certain sacrifices (very costly in money and time). If the sacrifices are made as required, blessings come. If sacrifices are not made, curses are incurred in their place.
About 20 years ago Rogelio’s son was sick to the point of death. Rogelio went to the witch doctors and paid for a “curing.” Sacrifices were required and made, but the boy got sicker and sicker. Finally Rogelio, in desperation, took the boy out of the mountains down into a city, to a hospital. It was too late and the boy died. But while Rogelio was there he met a missionary who told him about the Great God of all, and said that this God could have healed the boy. He gave Rogelio his contact information.
Later Rogelio’s second son became sick to the point of death. Rogelio still went to the witch doctors first. He did all that was required of him but the boy did not get better. Not wanting to wait any longer, Rogelio found a way to get in touch with the missionary. The missionary snuck into the Huichol village and prayed for the boy who was miraculously and completely healed.
From that point forward, the missionary continued to visit Rogelio and his family, always at night and always incognito. Rogelio and his family surrendered their lives to Christ. Then others, by word of mouth, came to hear the missionary who taught of a God more powerful than their own, a God who made the one sacrifice good for all people of all time, and wiped away fear. A good number of the Huichol people in the community converted to follow Christ.
This was a great threat to the way of life of the Huichol community. These new believers did not seek out the witch doctors and did not give sacrifices. They seemed immune to the curses. And by their testimonies they encouraged others to do the same. Eventually after beatings, incarceration of the believers, and threats of death, the community rallied to kick the believers off the land of their ancestors and expel them from the community.
The expelled believers (a group of 13 families) took what they could carry with them and began walking. After two days they arrived at the nearest town, Tenzompa, with no place to stay, no money and no friends.
But to hear them recount these experiences today, although they were scared and without resources, they were happy and free. They lived like the early church, sharing everything in common, praying, and praising the Lord continually.
Eventually this group of thirteen families was able to petition the Mexican government for help. They were awarded a parcel of land about an hour from Tenzompa, known as La Cofradia, and the Mexican government built houses for the original thirteen expelled families.
Rogelio, Luis, and Amelia have all attended the seminary at Rancho Agua Viva over a period of the past 10 years.
Currently, Rogelio pastors the church at La Cofradia and Luis pastors the community of believers that is still active in Tenzompa. Together they make evangelical excursions to the only open community of Huichol people in their region, Haimatzie.
What we do.
We have known the Huicholes since 2001 and have been visiting them in Jalisco since 2005. God has given us a very tender friendship with them. When we told them about our new ministry and our desire to serve them, they gathered to decide whether our offer could be beneficial and agreeable to the whole group. They affirmed our friendship clearly!
The community of believers at La Cofradia is established and faithful, although passive and sometimes indifferent. Several of the men of the original families have left their families to go find work elsewhere. Some of those have not returned and have essentially “divorced” their wives. Others from that community fervently desire to serve God with all of their hearts.
In Tenzompa the situation is more dire. The group is made up of several Huichol people who are new to the faith and undisciplined and undiscipled. Others are Mestizos (not Huicholes) who are not firm in their faith. Most of the believers there are older than their pastor.
Both groups are asking that we help with structuring leadership, teaching marriage and general counseling, and providing teaching on trauma healing.
Another opportunity that God is giving us with the Huicholes is to help them sell their beautiful artisan jewelry made from intricate designs with beads. We have been looking for ways to help them keep this tradition alive as a sustainable business, and have been in contact with ministries who are interested in an on-going business relationship.
More on our Communities…
For more details about the specific communities we currently serve, check out the following pages of our website: