A pastor and migrants were kidnapped by a group of cartel members, yet were returned after a day and a half safe in his home safe and unharmed.

Mexico is known to be North America's most dangerous city, and yet Pastor Lorenzo Ortiz chose to reside, serve and do the works of God in this place. Last June 2, the pastor who protects, assists, feeds and gives shelter to migrants in Laredo, TX and Nuevo Laredo was held hostage along with 15 migrants by Mexican drug cartels. Miraculously, as the pastor described, the organization released them unharmed after a few days, an answer to the prayers of hundreds.

In a 45-minute interview with Fellowship Southwest and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Ortiz declared that the cartel was threatened by his ministry work, believing that he was "cutting into (their) business" of transporting migrants, which was the main reason for the abduction.

Pastor's Ministry Work A Threat To Mexico's Cartel Business

"The cartel was shaken... the cartel never felt so vulnerable," Ortiz said.

During the kidnap incident, the Baptist pastor recalled the members of the cartel forcing him to tell the amount of money he charges each migrant family that stays in his shelter, refusing to believe that he does not charge migrants anything and that he helps them all for free.

According to an article in Vice, these cartels are in the business of kidnapping migrants and asylum seekers and extorting thousands of dollars from their families.

The organization felt that the pastor's ministry work was interfering with their business and might be losing money because of it.

In a conversation with Christian Post, Elket Rodriguez, field representative to migrants and communities along the United States-Mexico border of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, stated that it is atypical for this organization "to target Christians in the field," as they usually just kidnap migrants and asylum seekers. He confirmed what the pastor said when he proclaimed that pastors, missionaries, and other church workers only become their victims once they "represent a threat to their trafficking enterprise."

"It's all a business to the cartel. They see humans as commodities," Rodriguez went on to say.

When the Mexican officials found out about the abduction and Ortiz's ministry, the National Guard and other authorities immediately started working for the release of the captives.

The initial ransom amount was $40,000 but Ortiz narrated that the captors eventually lowered the amount and even replaced the tires of his van, which they slashed. The pastor was released unscathed the next day while the others were safely returned a few days after in batches of 5.

Also Read: Pastors facing challenges in making financial ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic

A Man Of God Made A Deal With The Devil

In 2019, Ortiz made an agreement with a local cartel boss in Mexico after getting a call from the latter, demanding to stop the help he is offering migrants for the same reason of interfering with their business, to which the pastor responded, "Let me do what God lets me do."

The pastor then "made a deal with the devil" as he felt that it was the only way he can be kept alive and can continue with his ministry.

"Under the agreement, the cartel got free rein on migrants stepping foot in Nuevo Laredo for the first time and Ortiz wouldn't interfere with those potential kidnappings," Vice reported.

The pastor's ministry was created because Ortiz himself is a migrant, brought by his father to the U.S. at the age of 16 from Mexico, where every day was trying to be more and do more to survive, a blog post from Refugee International said. The ministry's vision is for everyone to be a good samaritan, no matter the situation.

"God calls us to give our lives if it's needed for His service," Ortiz said when asked why he was willing to face this great risk and dangers for migrants and asylum seekers that he does not even know.

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