A number of paramilitary groups, as well as FARC guerrillas, vie for power in the southern region of Cordoba, a significant coca cultivation area that is strategically important to the drug trade. Colombia has the world’s second highest number of internally displaced people, numbering 4 million. . . . Guerrillas, drug cartels, and paramilitary groups target religious leaders who oppose their drug activity. The church is also a target because when guerrillas and paramilitary fighters become Christians, they quit fighting and drain the organizations’ manpower. Many pastors have been assassinated or have fled the country. Paramilitary and guerrilla groups have openly committed murders in public streets and on buses. Still, Christianity continues to grow in the country. VOM supports a prison ministry, provides a safe house for the families of slain pastors, provides tools to evangelists who serve in hostile areas, and prints and distributes Christian literature. (Voice of the Martyrs 2)
Excerpt from Open Doors USA, One With Them Devotional
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Over the years, rebel insurgents in Colombia have killed Christians and closed churches that oppose their violent practices. Uneducated youth from rural areas have few options regarding their future. Job opportunities are scarce; most are forced to choose between picking coca leaves and joining the rebel forces. Here, in this hopeless environment, a young teenager lives.
When she was 14, her parents began pressuring her to help provide for the family. Scared, she told a rebel commander that she was ready to enlist. He promised to return for her in a few days. While waiting, a friend invited her to a church service where she experienced something “so supernatural and so strong that it made me tremble and fall to my knees,” she said. God’s presence was so powerful at that moment… she gave her life to Jesus.
The guerrilla leader returned several days later. She refused to go and told the commander that she’d accepted a better invitation—she’d received Jesus in her heart and decided to follow Him. The leader angrily issued a death threat, saying, “If we see you doing anything wrong, we will kill you.” The commander then left with four of the girl’s friends.
The same day, paramilitary fighters ambushed the group, killing the girls and the commander who recruited them. Had she gone with the commander, she would have died that day as well.
- Voice of the Martyrs 1“The Voice of the Martyrs – Persecution.com – A Global Perspective on the Persecution of God’s Children.” Persecution.com. Voice of the Martyrs, 17 January 2014. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.