Sofia, a 17-year-old orphan from Colombia whose parents were killed for their faith when she was ten, is using her testimony to encourage others.
A video of Sofia can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORPD1pEotoc
Sofia* says, “I use my story to tell others that, for those who love God, all things work together for good. I try to make people understand that we do not have to turn away from God because of difficult circumstances.”
Her father, Jose Rodriguez, and her mother, Emilse Maria del Carmen, had been members of the National Liberation Army, an illegal armed group. However, when they decided to follow Jesus and leave this violent group, this angered the militants.
A few years after leaving the National Liberation Army, when both of Sofia’s parents had become pastors, they were shot. Sofia’s father was shot six times, and her mother was shot eight times. They both died in hospital shortly after the attack.
At first, Sofia couldn’t understand why God had allowed this to happen. “Isn’t God supposed to listen to our prayers? Why didn’t He answer our prayers?” she asked.
Thanks to the long-term support and prayers of her global church family, Sofia was able to come and live in the Children’s Centre run by Open Doors, where she could receive an education, counselling and love.
She says, “In my first days at the centre, I felt a great emptiness in my heart and so much pain. But here, I felt free.
“This place had a huge impact in my life. It was a very special help. I know that if I had not come here, my life out there would be completely different.”
With time, Sofia was able to forgive the men who killed her parents, and understand that, despite everything she has been through, God still has a purpose for her life. “That purpose is that I could share with other people about God’s love amid the circumstances,” she says.
“That experience taught me to have more trust in God. Now I understand that many things can happen to me and that He is always with me. He is my Father. I’m so happy to say that I believe in Him!”
Open Doors has launched an appeal to support children like Sofia who have been bullied, attacked or orphaned because of their families’ Christian faith.
Colombia is number 50 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Although Colombia is a democracy where religious freedom is guaranteed, large areas of the country have been controlled by criminal organisations, drug cartels and paramilitary groups. Christians are seen as a threat to the activities of these organisations as they represent an alternative way to behave in society. Church services are monitored and Christians who speak out against these groups are targeted.
For more information contact:
Beth – firstname.lastname@example.org 01993 777377
Tania – email@example.com 01993 777346
Esther – firstname.lastname@example.org 01993 777332
Please credit images: © Open Doors International
Information on Open Doors: www.opendoorsuk.org
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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.
Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List – a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life – plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.