Covenant Baptist Church
- O. Box 741
Broken Arrow, OK 74013
Dear Friends, Jan. 22, 2019
We send you greetings from Mexico City. The New Year got off to a bad start for Mexico with a major ongoing gasoline shortage. The new government is attempting to end a crisis that involves the theft of massive amounts of gasoline from the state owned Pemex monopoly. This problem has developed over the last 12-15 years and no one had really tried to deal with it until now.
The state owned oil monopoly charges the public about four dollars a gallon for fuel that costs them around one dollar, importing 70% of their supply from the USA. The price difference has turned fuel theft into a very lucrative business. The government claims that up to 1,000 tankers were being ‘stolen’ every day. They are trying to stop this by cutting off the supply and closing down gas ducts, thus producing the shortage of fuel. The Mexican army has taken control of the state owned refineries and is escorting the tanker trucks on their delivery routes. These measures resulted in massive panic buying along with difficulties in the transportation of goods and services. Some of the drug cartels are involved in this ‘huachicolero’ ‘business’ (slang for stolen fuel) along with politicians and workers in Pemex. There are supposedly 12,000 or more clandestine lines hooked up to the pipes that transport gasoline and diesel to their distribution centers.
This crisis that began with an almost apocalyptic atmosphere of fear, endless gas-lines and accusations, ended in a terrible crisis last Friday night. A high pressure gasoline duct that had been breached by the thieves exploded and burned alive at least 100 people who were in the process of stealing the fuel. The videos and online streaming of this tragedy seem to have shaken the nation to its roots. About 800 people from the nearby town were stealing, dancing and celebrating at the site of the breach where a high pressure stream of fuel was shooting into the air. This went on for almost 5 hours before a spark set the whole thing off like a bomb, instantly engulfing many in the flames.
There are political recriminations and wild accusations presently dominating the public discourse. The truth of the matter is that those who died were victims of their own sin who put themselves at risk in a desperate attempt to get some ‘free’ gasoline and ended up paying for it with their lives. Thus one more chapter in the long tragedy of this country is playing out. Mexico has the 15th largest economy in the world (thanks in great measure to NAFTA) but more than half of its population lives in poverty. The leftist leaning President is blaming the tragedy on neo-liberal economic policies of the previous governments. We are praying for the Lord to save some of the survivors and break the back of the corruption and wickedness that permeates every level of society.
In spite of all this bad news, we are encouraged about the progress of the Gospel in this country. The year 2018 turned out to be filled with evangelistic opportunities, advances and triumphs along with great opposition. The work of church planting continues to move forward aided by 5 Bible Institutes and our Spurgeon and sermon websites and book translation ministry. We have an ongoing tract distribution outreach in the heart of Mexico City along with our radio program and four congregations in the metro area. The new building occupied by our largest mission is a wonderful blessing that we are enjoying greatly.
We thank you for your prayers and support.
Missionary Tom Montgomery and Family