Transformation Cuidad Juarez - 1
Ed Silvoso recently told the story of Poncho Murguia, a pastor in Cuidad Juarez, a city on the Mexican-USA border, who, obeying God, stepped out of his church role and set out to transform his city - the murder capital of the world.
Here is just part of the story:
This story is about Ciudad Juarez, 12,000 murders. 300,000 people fled the city. The cartel, the Juarez Cartel, owned the city. The prison was the command and control center for the Juarez Cartel. Why is the cartel there? Because Ciudad Juarez, if you picture the map of America, Texas, you come all the way to the end, it's El Paso. You cross the border, it's Juarez. That is the gateway to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Billions of dollars run through that trade every day. In the prison, they have the bank, the command and control center, and the kitchen to cook the cocaine. 70% of the guards are drug dealers, 98% of the inmates are drug users.
Now this pastor, Poncho Murguia, comes to our conference. He said yes to change the city, not to survive. He had an incredible congregation, kindergarten to college level classes, building fully paid. upper middle-class, and the Lord says, "I'm calling you to pastor this city so turn the church over to your number 2 man and get out of the way." He did it. He did it. Then he set up a tent at the entrance of the city and he did a 21-day fast, praying for the city at the height of the murders. On a bad night you have 21 murders, on a "good one" 12.
He is there praying, first day, and a journalist notices him, and he thinks he is doing a hunger strike, so he comes to him and says, "What are you protesting against?" "I'm not protesting, I am praying." "Does God hear your prayers?" "Oh yes." "Does he talk to you?" "Oh yes." He had never heard such a certainty. The journalist reports this to the publisher. The publisher is so sickened of just reporting murders, he says, "I'll tell you what. Every day you go there, and ask what God is saying, and we are going to put it on the front page, and then if the guy is right, we get more interest, and if he is a charlatan, he will be exposed. Every day, this message from God was published. Among those that is watching and reading the paper is a candidate to mayor, and he wins the election. On the last day of the fast, there were 4000 people there around that tent because there were signs and wonders but Poncho's objective was not the 4000 but the city.
The mayor says, "You know, I won the election. I was reading the paper that you hear from God. Do you think you can take over the prison and help me clean it?"
We did this in Argentina and we saw the rate of reoffending come down from 85% to 2%, and the government asked our people there to take over the prison system, so we knew how to do it. I put him in touch with the guys. They came. They trained intercessors, and after a season of training intercessors, Poncho, asked for 450 soldiers with machine guns. At midnight on a given day they descended, they disarmed all the cartel people, raided the kitchen, raided the bank, took over, locked up the place. For 40 days, no one came in, no one went out. Everybody went through their withdrawal symptoms. They put a new warden there, and the prison was totally transformed. As a result of that, over the period of 3 years the mayor became a Christian and the Attorney General, the highest minister of justice was a member of his church. The Governor and the Chief of Police became Christians.
Then at the height of the violence, God gave us the idea, "Why don't we adopt sicarios?"
Sicarios are hit men. They kill people for $40. On a "good night", they kill five, that's $200. I said, "We don't know who they are. They don't advertise, but they are there. We see their terrible work." This pastor mobilized his team just to pray all over the city and adopt sicarios.
About that time, 2 sicarios were released from a prison in America. One of them, Angel, had become a Christian, and in prison the Lord told him to "go to the meanest guy, Aurelio and tell him about me". Angel did that but paid a high price because they beat him up but eventually, Aurelio came to the Lord. Both of them get saved in prison. Both of them are released from prison. The day of release, Angel goes to Poncho's group. Aurelio goes to his home town, backslides and becomes the head of 80 sicarios.
Then we decided to adopt sicarios and what happens? The Lord spoke to Angel, the good guy, and told him to "go and get Aurelio and tell him that he has to come back to me." Now what was Aurelio doing? Overseeing 80 sicarios that every week spill blood, and God hasn't forgotten him. Well, you don't get into those villages just by chance. Angel puts his life at risk, drives to the citadel, and he knows that he can be killed because they don't like strangers. The first guy he runs into he says, "I would like to see Aurelio." "Why?" "Well, we were in prison together." "Oh, okay. Fine, that's good. That qualifies." "I have a message for him" so they thought he had a drug deal, so they took him to the house where he was presiding over a staff meeting of 8 sicarios planning that day's murders. Angel says, "I came to see you because God wants you back, and he told me to pray for you."
Aurelio looks over. He says, "Here. I have a staff meeting here, so why don't we go walk a couple of blocks." They did. When they get there, Angel begins to lay hands, and a cars from the rival cartel come up to the house, 8 people with machine guns, and they kill everybody. Aurelio sees the hand of God - he's been spared.
Now with these 2 sicarios, this is what we discover. Corruption and corrupt people are not the same thing. When you become a sicarios, no one wants you, but now there is a group in the city that welcomes sicarios. God begins to move, and we get a revival among sicarios, and the cartel begins to lose their main players. One thing led to the other and the murder rate drops dramatically. The city has changed so much.
"Homicides have decreased by 80%, Kidnappings have been eliminated 100% and extortions are down 90%" Carlos Salas, Former State Attorney General
And now meet Poncho himself:
An example of what happens when we realise we are called to change towns, cities, nations, lifting your eyes up from your church..
Read part 2 here and part 3 here.
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Geoff Knott, 14/06/2016