A rocky road for Mexico missions: Amid violence south of the U.S. border, many churches rethink travel plans (reporting from Aquiles, Mexico). Page 1.

First Place (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association

Finalist (part of three-story portfolio), Supple Feature Writer of the Year Award, Religion News Association

Third Place, General News Reporting, Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

AQUILES, Mexico — A year ago, Bethany Gibbs raised more than $2,000 to buy Spanish-language Bibles for 350 families in this remote mountain village and nearby communities.

Gibbs, then a high school senior, eagerly anticipated sharing God’s written word with Mexican friends she had made on two previous mission trips here.

But safety concerns south of the U.S. border prompted her home congregation — the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma — to cancel its planned trip.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Deborah Gibbs, Bethany’s mother. “She didn’t know if she’d ever get to come back.”

Turf wars between drug cartels have claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico since 2006, even as President Felipe Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police to combat criminal organizations.

The violence, which includes kidnappings, carjackings and innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire, has caused many Churches of Christ in the U.S. to rethink Mexico missions.

Trusting God on mission trip to Mexico (reporting from Aquiles, Mexico). Inside Story.

Securing young hearts in Iowa (reporting from Marshalltown, Iowa). Churches That Work.

This post highlights my stories in the May 2012 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Advertisements