stories from the field carmen

Stories from the Field – Carmen

by Bob and Cheryl Fugate,
Alliance international workers to Guadalajara , Mexico


As she did most afternoons, Carmen asked her 21-year-old son to walk to the corner store for some bread. On one such day, her life changed forever—it was the last time she ever saw him. Deep down, she knew he was another of the thousands of victims killed each year in Mexico’s drug wars. Veracruz, the coastal state where Carmen lived, is a hotbed of drug cartel activity and noted for its unmarked mass graves.

Unable to bear the pain of living in the city where her son’s life was claimed, Carmen moved to Guadalajara to be near extended family members.

One day she showed up on a Sunday morning at Breath of Life. She had noticed our signs outside, “Christian Church,” and arrived looking for hope—something to help her make sense of the tragedy in her life.

When Carmen attended one of the church’s new visitor’s breakfasts, she shared her story with the group, relaying how every weekend over a year’s time search parties had looked for her son but never brought back any news. She had come to Guadalajara to start anew and get away from the horrible memories.

Recently, the government of Veracruz discovered a mass grave on one of the local beaches that was filled with more than 250 dismembered bodies. Carmen was notified and asked to provide a DNA sample for her son to determine if his was one of the bodies.

Can you imagine as a mother being asked to do such a thing? Unfortunately, this is all too common in Mexico, where violence and corruption are out of control—there is no one to trust and no one to offer consolation or counsel.

One Sunday morning, about six months after Carmen became a part of the congregation, a small smile spread across her face—something no one had witnessed. This was the transforming power of the gospel for this grieving mom. She was praising the Lord for the peace and joy that comes with the assurance of God’s love.

As of this writing, Carmen has received no news from the DNA testing. She may never know the answers to her questions. Yet she continues to sing songs filled with the new hope and love she has experienced in Christ. Her heart is full through relationships shared in her new community of faith.

The vision for Circle of Care is to give more women, who have similar stories like Carmen’s, a safe place to share their heartbreaking stories, receive support and love during their painful ordeals, and to be a beacon of hope for transformation—even in the face of tragedy.

We are living in a broken world, and we as the Church need to do our part—no matter how small it seems—to bring hope into the darkness and see it transform one woman, one mother at a time.

An Alliance worker

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