Servant Senders in Mexico—Part 2

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From Violence to Victory in Christ: Transforming a City by Serving its Police

Story by Carmel Flippen
Photos courtesy of Servant Senders

This is Part 2 of our series on Servant Senders, a Calvary Chapel-affiliated ministry based in Juarez, Mexico. Read Part 1 to learn how their pastoral training program has equipped local Christians to preach the Gospel through a wide array of ministries.

 

To everyone’s surprise, the cartels’ downfall began with the donuts.

In 2009, Juarez, Mexico, was a war zone as three cartels battled over the lucrative border territory, catching everyone in their crossfire. A beleaguered police force attempted to quell cartel violence, but they were outgunned, outmanned, and riddled with corruption. As more and more police were bribed or threatened into serving rival cartels, the police seemed as likely to fight each other as the enemy. When Nolan and Marie Schockey asked their pastors-in-training who they feared most in the conflict, they all answered, “The police.”

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

For two years, the Schockeys and local ministry leaders in their Servant Senders program prayed for evangelistic opportunities with the police but, as Mexico shares the U.S. government’s perspective on separation of church and state, all their attempts were rebuffed. Nolan raised the request again at the Tuesday Bible study. “One of our students had brought a former drug user [to the study],” Marie recounted. “He raised his hand and said timidly, ‘I know how to get the police to listen to you. I sell donuts. If you give them donuts, they’ll listen to whatever you have to say.’”

Nolan burst out laughing, but the locals—unfamiliar with American stereotypes about policemen and donuts—insisted the man was right. Servant Senders bought all of his donuts and sent two men to one of the most dangerous local police stations to hand them out during shift change, despite the constant risk of cartel drive-by shootings. On Servant Senders’ second day there, a policewoman recognized their volunteer. “What are you doing here?!” she exclaimed. “You could be killed!”

“We just want to pray for you,” the man replied.

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Isaiah, who leads Servant Senders' ministry at the police academy, prays for a supervisor in the municipal police. Since 2009, Servant Senders has been building relationships with all levels of the police. As their ministry has expanded, police corruption has dropped while morale has risen.

She spoke to her captain. “We are so discouraged,” he sighed. “If they want to pray, let them in.” From then on, Servant Senders offered 10-minute devotionals and prayer three times weekly during shift changes. Morale drastically improved and corruption decreased.

Then, in 2011, two cartels joined forces, threatening to execute one Juarez police officer each day. Eight were murdered before the government moved all 2,500 local police into four hotels in order to protect them. Hearing how Servant Senders’ adopted station had been transformed, officials asked for their help. “They said, ‘We need you to be there, as many as can come,’” Marie remembered. “It was pretty incredible for them to be in so much danger that they realized that without God, they had no hope.” Ten ministry leaders went three days a week for two months, teaching God’s Word and praying over officers before they were sent out. Soon, they began seeing miracles.

A cartel car pulled up beside two police officers at a stoplight and began firing AK-47s into their truck. When the guns were empty, both sides were equally shocked that the officers were still alive. As the cartel sped off, the policemen leapt from their truck to see the damage. Every square inch of the truck was covered in bullet holes, including where the men had been sitting—yet not a single bullet had touched them.

Another group of policemen was pinned down by machine-gun fire. As they huddled for shelter, unable to get in a single shot because of the cartels’ superior weaponry, one of the men thought, Wait a minute—I know I’m not going to die today because those men prayed for me. He stood up—ignoring his fellow officers screams to get down, that he was crazy—and fired toward the enemy. Though he felt the bullets’ heat as they whizzed past his head, when the smoke cleared, all of his attackers were dead, and he was untouched.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Psalm 91:7-8

Because of these miracles and many others, officers began refusing to leave until their cars had been prayed over. Doors opened for ministry in stations throughout the city, with the same results. Juarez’s daily murder rate dropped from 8-10 to 0-2.

Much later, police were lured into a cartel trap, and two were killed. The survivors hunkered down two blocks away, out of range of a .50- caliber mounted machine gun able to pierce entire buildings. Their cause seemed hopeless. Suddenly, the gun jammed, and police rushed in. Grenades were thrown at them, but not a single one exploded. They were able to capture all 19 attackers alive. To their shock, all were out-of-state mercenaries—the culture of Juarez had changed so completely that the cartel had been unable to recruit locals. Though the cartels would always be a threat, their hold on the city was broken.

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After nine years of prayer, Pastor Javier, above, was finally able to launch Servant Senders' ministry to the State Police last year. Already, God is using that ministry to build relationships with the federal police and the military.

Equipped for Spiritual Battle

Sadly, violence is rising in Juarez again. This time, the border crisis has made it more lucrative for the cartels to traffic in humans than in drugs. However, through these adverse circumstances God is expanding Servant Senders’ Gospel outreach. “We prayed nine years for a way to get in with the state police,” Marie testified. “This June [marks] one year of ministry there. That’s pretty incredible.”

Javier, who leads their State Police ministry, went to an office recently to resolve a personal import issue. When he arrived, there was a conference being held for municipal, state, and federal police and the newly formed National Guard. “Oh, great, you’re here!” said an officer Javier knew, assuming he was there to teach. He led the unsuspecting Javier to the front of the room. Off-the-cuff, Javier taught a lesson on unity, simply speaking whatever he felt the Holy Spirit had put on his heart.

Afterwards, a military colonel called him over. “This was an incredible message! Why haven’t I heard this message before?” he asked. Javier learned then that the conference’s theme was Unity. Since then, he has noticed video cameras at his teachings. Servant Senders believes the police are taping and distributing his messages.

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Javier and Pedro pass out free drinks and sweet bread as part of Servant Senders' police ministry. Embattled on all sides by the cartels, the pandemic, and rising crime caused by both, the police rarely encounter a friendly face. The simple kindness shown to them by Servant Senders' representatives has sometimes moved hardened men to tears.

Depending on the season, Servant Senders often brings police hot or cold drinks. “Lately it’s been 110 degrees,” explained Marie. “One of our guys handed a state policeman a drink. ‘How much is this?’ the policeman asked. ‘No, it’s free,’ our guy said. ‘It’s just because we care about you.’ Overwhelmed by the unexpected kindness, the policeman began sobbing, ‘Nobody cares about us, everyone hates us!’”

Many police suffer in silence about the trauma they have experienced rather than sharing with their assigned psychologists, knowing it would go on record and fearing it will affect their career. Professional counselors have offered training courses to some of Servant Senders’ men to equip them to help these officers.

They also offer a myriad of simpler services, like bus tickets for cadets who would otherwise have to drop out of the academy. One policewoman they bought groceries for graduated as valedictorian and is now a high-up official who advocates for them. “We don’t just pray for them, we provide for them,” said Marie. “That makes the relationship really solid. Even when someone tries to come against us, there’s enough people who see the good we’re doing for their officers who say, ‘No—they stay.’”

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:2

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A cadet in the Police Academy raises his hand to accept Christ during a morning devotional. After a recent teaching on the prodigal son, 180 out of 380 cadets present prayed to receive God's free offer of salvation.

The head of the police academy is one of their greatest supporters. In 2012, after seeing police stations being transformed, he asked Servant Senders, “Can you start teaching them before they become police? What would you need?” The 10-minute devotionals Servant Senders’ Pastor Isaiah began with have grown to an hour-long weekly teaching throughout the cadets’ six-month program. This spring, Isaiah preached on the prodigal son. Marie narrated, “He asked, ‘How many of you are prodigals and have a mom or grandma praying for you?’ Several raised their hands. However, when he gave an invitation to accept Jesus as their Savior, be forgiven, and enter into salvation, 180 of the 380 raised their hands.”

Overjoyed but also overwhelmed by the sudden need for discipling, Servant Senders sent out an emergency request to a Manhattan, NY, supporter. “I told him we needed a couple hundred Bibles. He sent a thousand,” Marie rejoiced. “We feel like we’re living in the Book of Acts. You should see the cadets in the auditorium now, all their Bibles open, waiting for him to teach. Weeks later, they are still coming up to him after class to talk about the messages and how they affect them.”

                  

Click to learn more about  Servant Senders

Over the last few years, Servant Senders' ministry has grown from a handful of pastoral hopefuls to a wide net of churches and ministries transforming their city with the hope of the Gospel. To learn more, click here to read Part 1.
                  

 

 

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2021 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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