Prayer Guide for Mexico City

IMB missionaries living in Mexico City confront the syncretism of the Catholic faith and animism every day as they share the hope of Christ with the Mexican people. Though Mexico is considered reached with the gospel — with roughly 10% of the city’s population of 20 million considered evangelical Christian — the existing churches have a big task ahead of them in reaching the other 90%.

IMB missionary Rick Martinez says, “Impacting Mexico City is truly a God-sized task. The reality is that only God can do it, but how humbling it is to know that He invites us to become instruments in His hands to accomplish His will.”

As you look at the following pictures, will you pray with the missionaries and national believers that God’s truth will penetrate the darkness that covers Mexico City?

It’s late afternoon in wintertime and the rays of the setting sun cut through drifting clouds of scented blue-white smoke rising from numerous sprigs of burning white sage. The smoke irritates the eyes and infuses clothing; its characteristic smell can be vividly recalled months after the event. The scene unfolds against a loud backdrop of sounds — the urgent insistence of a rapid drumbeat, the rhythmic shaking of shell beads and the occasional, haunting wail of a shell horn.
Here in the shadow of Mexico City’s Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, the scene plays out as it has for almost 700 years, since the Aztec period. The cathedral was built over the ruins of the Aztec Templo Mayor (now partially excavated), which was once the main ceremonial center in the city of Tenochtitlan.
Around the historic Zocalo district surrounding the cathedral, small crowds gather to watch, for a small donation, the Aztec shamans administer rituals, called “limpia,” to locals and tourists alike. Using sprigs of foliage, burning herbs, flowers, stones, candles and colored liquids the shaman invokes a blessing on the worshiper. The blessing is believed to bring healing and cleansing from the influences of evil spirits and other negative forces.
The religion is polytheistic, meaning its followers believe in numerous gods, each playing an important role in daily life. As an animistic religion it also teaches that everything in the world has a spirit that needs to be appeased and revered to avoid misfortune and ensure health and prosperity. The limpia ritual plays this role, even in modern Mexican society, to followers of all ages and social groups, even among followers of Roman Catholicism.
Indeed, many who have received the cleansing ritual follow it with a visit to the nearby Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral to invoke further blessings. Many Mexicans continue to blend pre-Hispanic religious practices with their Catholicism.

Continue to pray for the people of Mexico City to seek the one true God, and in Him to find eternal life.