Family Renewal Ministries, Inc.

PO Box 293 Defiance IA 51527 
Info@intothemountains.org

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We work primarily with the Cora indigenous, however, because there are students from other people groups attending the school broader opportunities to serve other indigenous communities may occur.  
We will focus ministry and mission toward students and faculty at Las Huellas de Fray and the larger Cora community.  Following is a brief overview of the Cora people.

The Cora are representative in most ways of all  the indigenous of Mexico in that they are
disadvantaged, isolated, socially excluded from mainstream society, and considered inferior.  Their historical experience is to be enslaved, oppressed, abused, and mistreated.  They have survived with significant cultural integrity because of their resilient natures and adaptability in difficult circumstances, having been driven from favorable lands to mountain or desert settings.  Most Cora are directly tied to primitive subsistence farming (with a few notable exceptions) on tribal lands living in small extended family groupings or small colonias in dispersed rugged mountain settings.  Many of the men and older boys work seasonally as agricultural laborers away from home on the coastal plain in the hope of supplementing family incomes.  Average annual income is estimated at less than $200 per family.

There are efforts underway by the Mexican government to provide education, limited medical services, fresh water and electricity to the larger communities.  These efforts to improve conditions for the indigenous are recent, most put in place during the last decade.   Many of the Cora choose to live, or are assigned land rights, far from the few developed communities located on major roads, thus having little access or even knowledge of services available.  Change is not readily accepted.   Cora values embody a resolute physical independence lived within cultural norms, personal freedom is highly valued, often with significant negative consequences.  Examples: polygamy is tolerated, abuse of women (commonly treated as chattel) is common, alcohol abuse is rapidly increasing as is abandonment of families and children, and there are myriad personal and cultural esteem conflicts.  Although there are many positive aspects to the Cora culture, the intrusion of contemporary social mores, values and thinking is creating tremendous pressure upon the integrity of the established way of life.  This is further complicated by the allure of substantial money provided by raising opium poppies and marijuana, with many associated tentacles of the trade negatively impacting the society.            

Many within our circle of Cora friends are painfully aware of the speed and negative nature of the change upon them.  The need for moral grounding and strength is palpable.  There is a strong desire to know Jesus, to be able to experience him personally as the iconic Padre Pascual emulated.  These are a people caught within a tide of historic change, who in their hearts know they have few options, and
they are desperately seeking a future that offers hope.