Hit Man Targets Baptist Pastor, but God Delivers Him From Evil

pastor is target of assassination attempt
Argentine Pastor Marcelo Nieva of Pueblo Grande Baptist Church believes drug traffickers and corrupt police were behind an attempt on his life. (Pueblo Grande Baptist Church)

One sure way to get the devil angry is to cross drug traffickers and pimps. After all, they're working for him.

Pastor Marcelo Nieva of Argentina surely knows this. But he also knows a greater truth: God is able to protect His servants from harm by the enemy.

Nieva believes his life was providentially saved on the evening of Oct. 21, when a lone gunman fired multiple rounds from a 9-mm handgun into Nieva's passing car in an apparent attempt to assassinate the 35-year-old pastor of Pueblo Grande Baptist Church.

Neither Nieva nor his passenger, church member Daniel Carreño, suffered any injuries in the attack, according to a report by Morningstar News on its website.

Church members and other local Christians suspect the pastor may have been targeted in part for helping a single mother in a custody dispute, according to news media reports. Pastor Nieva firmly stated that he is not about to back down from his ministry to drug addicts and victims of abuse, nor from the fight for justice.

"We are struggling and working to uncover the truth of the facts," he told Morningstar News. "We firmly believe that truth overcomes lies and the light will always vanquish darkness."

His church has reached out to victims of substance abuse, opened a shelter for battered women, and works to rescue minors from prostitution and sex trafficking.

In their report to Federal Police the following day, Nieva and his attorney, Alejandro Zeverin Escribano, accused "paid hit men with ties to drug traffickers who have infiltrated the Cordoba police, and who seek vengeance for our pastoral action" of carrying out the assassination attempt.

The Federal Court of Cordoba assigned security agents to protect Nieva and Carreño. But that's all they did. Attorney Zeverin called for a full investigation of the crime and for prosecution of those responsible, the Christian news website reported.

The attempt on the pastor's life reinforces suspicions in the Argentine Christian community that Nieva's quest for justice is exposing merely the tip of an immense iceberg of corruption involving police, politicians and criminal gangs in Rio Tercero.

After all, less than a week before the attack, Nieva, Zeverin and elders of Pueblo Grande church met with provincial leaders. They complained about the harassment campaign in Rio Tercero and the "passivity" of local police, who may be in the pocket of organized crime.

Even before the assassination attempt, national and global human-rights organizations had voiced support for Nieva.

Ironically, Nieva's intervention in the plight of the single mother led to his facing charges of illicit association, illegitimate privation of liberty, enslavement, fraud and violent abuse.

That's because the pastor's enemies are exploiting a controversial legal measure in Cordoba. In 2011, legislators passed Provincial Law No. 9891. Entitled "Provincial Program for Prevention and Assistance to Victims of Groups Employing Techniques of Psychological Manipulation," it has subsequently been dubbed the "anti-sect" law, said Morningstar News.

The law grants social workers and law enforcement the authority to investigate religious "cults" and assist "victims" whom they determine have been "damaged" by participation in such groups.

Church leaders and legal experts criticize the vaguely written legislation as a potential weapon to abuse—rather than uphold—the rights of Christians.

Local Christians say this has happened in Rio Tercero, where the authorities have categorized Pueblo Grande Baptist Church as a "sect" in newspaper reports of the conflict. In fact, the congregation is a member in good standing of a Protestant Christian denomination with a 105-year history in Argentina and 900 local congregations across the country, Morningstar News reported.

Pueblo Grande members claim that authorities have invoked Law 9891 to harass the congregation for conducting a ministry to abused women like Belen. No other province in Argentina has adopted such a measure, nor does one exist at the national level. Evangelical Christians across Argentina are calling upon the federal government to overturn Provincial Law 9891.

In fact, a local district attorney ordered police raids on Pueblo Grande Baptist Church and the Transit Home for Ladies, as well as on Pastor Nieva's private residence.

Nieva said he has done nothing that should elicit attacks on him or his ministry.

"We have done no other thing than preach the gospel," he told Morningstar News. "Nothing more, nothing less."

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