Sadly our world is full of violence and conflict much of which we never hear about. But sometimes a courageous individual or group does something remarkable to stop it. A short while ago, I read of the actions of such a group in Mexico several years ago.


 In Mexico, in the state of Michoacan, in the small town of Cheran, kidnaps and killings had become a part of everyday life. The women were angered by the masked men who regularly demanded protection money from small businesses in the town. They also watched, apparently helplessly, as for years lorries drove through their town loaded with logs, as armed loggers destroyed the forest land that traditionally belonged to the community.


In 2011, the women had had enough. The loggers were drawing closer to one of the town's springs. Aware that removing the trees reduced the water available, and fearing that if the spring dried up there would be no water supply in the town for the people or the livestock, the women took matters into their own hands. First they went into the forest to attempt to reason with the loggers, but they were chased away. Feeling it was too dangerous to make another attempt, the women stopped the loggers' lorries in the town and took some loggers hostage. Meanwhile, church bells summoned the local people of Cheran to help. When police arrived with the mayor and with armed men to free the hostages, they were driven out by the townspeople after an uneasy stand-off. So Cheran began its journey of self-government, returning to its roots as a community independent of outsiders. The loggers have not been allowed back to the town, and neither have police or politicians.


Five years on, checkpoints are still in place on the three main roads leading into Cheran, guarded by the men and women of the town. Every vehicle passing through the town is stopped and the occupants questioned. The community themselves now deal with minor crimes, and Cheran has seen no serious crime in the last year. The forest surrounding the town, the common land owned by the community, is recovering too. For five years it has been free from loggers and is beginning to regenerate. The loggers destroyed 17000 hectares of forest. 3000 hectares have now been replanted with tree seedlings grown in the town's tree nursery. In a country where corruption and violence have become common, Cheran is a beacon of hope in the state of Michoacan.


  • How do you respond to the actions of the women of Cheran?

  • Do you think it is ever justifiable to take the law into our own hands?

  • If so, what makes it acceptable or unacceptable to do so?


Prayer for the week - 20th October 2016



On October 4th hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in the Caribbean. For a few days, as it crossed the Caribbean and then moved onto mainland America, hurricane Matthew figured on the international news. Less than a couple of weeks later, a quick glance at most news sources shows hardly a mention of hurricane Matthew or its effects.



Last week a series of posters published by a UK city council were banned by the Advertising Standards Agency. The posters were urging the public not to give money to beggars. They were banned for 'reinforcing negative stereotypes.' But is there a correct response to beggars?


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