Rev. Daniel Kuiper recalls faculty meetings being interrupted by the sound of gunfire. “People were murdered just around the corner,” he said.
Kuiper works for Christian Reformed World Missions, crossing the border regularly from El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juarez, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, to teach at All Nations Seminary.
The seminary is located in the so-called Valley of Death, where drug cartels are fighting for control. “It’s carnage,” Kuiper said.
Kuiper and Rev. Eduardo Gonzales, an associate pastor of Sunshine Community Christian Reformed Church in El Paso, Texas, and “a few Korean brothers” from All Nations CRC in Lake View Terrace, Calif., continued to cross the border to finish the academic term despite warnings from the U.S. State Department, Canadian Foreign Affairs, and Christian Reformed World Missions.
“Things are tense,” Kuiper said. “I stay on main roads, don’t wander around, and try not to be noticeable. They have not attacked Americans to a large extent, [but] you can be caught in a cross-fire.”
World Missions temporarily suspended volunteer travel to Ciudad Juarez. The denomination’s crisis management team also advises congregations and other organizations “to seriously consider the risks involved in travel to Mexico.”
How bad have things become? Kuiper said several businessmen who live in El Paso but run companies in Juarez no longer travel back and forth, managing instead via the Internet.
Despite the violence, enrollment at All Nations Seminary remains steady, Kuiper noted, adding that the gospel is the ultimate hope.
“A lot of people are preparing to preach and teach, and that’s the long-term solution,” he said.