Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Violence Against Latin American Seventh-day Adventists

Not many People in States even hear About It
 By Greg Szymanski, JD
Aug. 24, 2010
GRANADA, NICARAGUA — In neighboring Guatemala, a rash of violence against 7th Day Adventists pastors and church members has virtually gone unreported in the States.

According to onlookers of the worldwide religious scene, Adventists are “the last of the Christians” to make a pure stand against Rome, “the Beast in Revelations”, bent on creating a one world religion based on anti-biblical principles.

The Vatican itself has admitted in many of their formal writings the battle lines of Christianity will come down to the Sabbath, saying either you follow 7th Day Adventists and worship on Saturday, the seventh day, or follow Roman Catholic tradition and worship on Sunday, the first day of the week.

Although the day of the Sabbath seems meaningless to many modern day “Christians”, the issue according to uncompromising  Bible scholars is paramount, pitting God’s Commandment and law set forth in both the Old and New Testament against man’s authority touted through Roman Catholic dogma and tradition.

This will be the final clash, says internationally known 7th Day “Adventist speaker, Professor Walter Veith. adding Rome will demand its authority through a Sunday law be recognized. Those who refuse, Veith continues, will be classified as heretics and will face the long standing Roman Catholic punishment of death.

Whether the string of violence against Adventists in Guatemala is related to the above struggle is unknown, but it should be considered, according to numerous true Bible believing onlookers, especially when looking at how Rome has dealt with true Bible believers in the past.

Here is a story that appeared in 2009 after an Adventist pastor was gunned down in Guatemala:

In Guatemala, Adventists mourn murdered pastor

4 Mar 2009, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Libna Stevens/ANN

Seventh-day Adventists are mourning the loss of a minister after he was gunned down in Guatemala’s southern region February 26.

Erick Cerritos, 33, a native of Guatemala, was traveling in his car with his family when he was intercepted by another car and shot several times.

 Cerritos, who had spent more than a decade serving as a minister in the neighboring country of Honduras, is the latest victim in a string of escalating violence the church in Guatemala has experienced.

“This is a terrible tragedy brought out by the unstoppable violence here in Guatemala hitting our Adventist family these last few months,” said Juan Lopez, Communication director for the Adventist Church in Central Guatemala. 

Investigators believe the incident might have been a case of mistaken identity, Lopez said.

He reports that more than 120 Adventists have been affected by violence since the beginning of 2008.

 “There have been 12 church members murdered, 100 extortions and 10 kidnappings by gang members and drug traffickers throughout the country,” he said.

Lopez explained that the Mexican government has recently intensified its fight against drug trafficking. Many cartels have crossed the southern border into Guatemala and brought their operations and violence with them.

Church leaders and members gathered for a memorial service in Guatemala City the day after the murder. Cerritos’s body was later transported to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where hundreds gathered on Saturday, February 28 for a special service.

 “We are still in shock in Honduras,” said Walter Ciguenza, Communication director for the church’s Mid-Central American region, headquartered in Honduras.

 “This has hit our church very hard,” said Ciguenza, who explained that in the more than 10 years he has served in Honduras nothing like this has ever hit the church so hard.

More than 800 people crowded the Comayaguela Adventist Church in Tegucigalpa during a Sabbath morning memorial service for the late pastor. More people followed the radio broadcast of the program. Cerritos was remembered for his dedicated pastoral leadership in the districts of Rio Grande, La Hacienda and La Era in Honduras.

Winston Simpson, Ministerial Association secretary for the church in Mid-Central America, spoke of the great loss to his pastoral team and offered words of hope to those mourning.

“We are saddened for losing Pastor Cerritos,” said Simpson. “We must continue in faith in finishing the work God has called us to do.”

Cerritos pursued his theology degree from the Adventist University in Costa Rica and obtained a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from the Inter-American Theological Seminary in 2007. He is survived by his wife and three-year-old daughter.

Meanwhile, leaders in Guatemala continue to be concerned with the safety of their members. Just a day after the memorial, a pastor who had finished preaching was violently assaulted and treated for a cut to his head requiring 10 stitches.

Lopez said that churches in Guatemala are planning to organize a nationwide march against violence in the coming weeks.

-Juan Lopez contributed to this story     Investigative Journal