Most Colombians are Christians – 95 per cent of the population of 50.2 million. But Christians still aren’t safe in Colombia, and persecution is getting much worse.
In Colombia, a largely Christian country, persecution is localised – and violent. Church leaders are threatened, harassed, extorted and even murdered because of the violence perpetrated by guerrillas and other criminal groups, especially in the country’s more remote areas. In most cases, this violence is the direct result of Christians denouncing corruption and violence, pursuing peace and justice and deterring young people from joining the gangs. This endangers the illegal activities of criminal groups and drug cartels.
In indigenous communities, persecution is rather different. There is significant opposition towards Christians who have converted from the beliefs of their indigenous tribe, and these believers can face imprisonment, physical abuse and the confiscation of property, among other forms of punishment.
“I learned that, although there are difficult times in life, there are also times when Jesus helps us to overcome through people and prayer.” Daniela
Daniela is 12. Her dad, Pastor Plinio, was a strong voice for Jesus in his community. He refused to back down from spreading the gospel and protecting young children, despite the dangers of the local criminal gangs and drug cartels. Pastors like Plinio often try to deter young people from joining these gangs – and that’s why Plinio was murdered.
Daniela was able to find respite, with her younger brother and her mother, at the Open Doors children’s centre in Colombia. It gave them a safe space to grieve and spend time with other believers. “I didn’t expect so many people,” remembers Daniela. “It made me feel so good. I was really happy to be surrounded by so many loving people.” They spent four weeks there. “I felt good for the first time in a long time,” says Daniela. Open Doors was able to help Daniela and her family move to a safer region of Colombia.
The Colombia Children’s Centre offers long-term shelter to vulnerable Christian children, who can receive education, safety and friendship, as well as providing short-term respite to other families. More than 400 students have already graduated from the centre.
In short, yes. Colombia has risen 11 places in the 2021 World Watch List from last year. The most significant factors leading to the country’s steady rise are the worsening violence from rebel groups and the persecution faced by indigenous Christians who have departed a traditional religion.
Additionally, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected groups who were already vulnerable to criminal gangs, particularly in areas of the country that are at least partially controlled by these violent groups. The humanitarian crisis in the Nariño region continues to worsen; the fight for the control of illicit crops, drug trafficking and illegal mining have led to intensified conflict and many Christians are affected, and are among the thousands of displaced families. Elsewhere, the church is also helping many Venezuelan refugees who have crossed the border.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Colombia. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors strengthens the persecuted church in Colombia through Bible distribution, training, trauma care, relief aid, and education and safe houses for children.
Our God and Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Colombia. We pray for those who are facing the threat of violence simply because their very presence is a threat to those who would do evil. We pray You would bring about peace and reconciliation among armed groups in Colombia, and that violence would cease. We pray also for our indigenous family in Colombia, that they would be able to walk with You openly and without fear. In Jesus’ name, Amen
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Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.