How many Christians are there in Colombia?
Most Colombians are Christians – 95 per cent of the population of 50.2 million. But Christians still aren’t safe in Colombia.
How are Christians persecuted in Colombia?
Though Colombia has a high percentage of Christians, believers face persecution from criminal gangs and indigenous groups.
Guerrilla groups threaten, harass, extort and even murder church leaders, who are targeted because they denounce corruption, defend human rights and oppose cartels. Last year saw protests in the country, partly against corruption and controversial government measures. Church leaders were among those who supported the demonstrators, and this led to threats and violence. Their children may also be targeted, to discourage church leaders from speaking out against organised crime and corruption.
Christians who convert from the beliefs of their indigenous tribe also face imprisonment, harassment, physical abuse or denial of basic rights and use of their ancestral territory, among other forms of persecution. Often they are targeted to make an example of them, so that the rest of the community is deterred from conversion.
Rising secular intolerance means Christians are increasingly vulnerable to hostility, verbal abuse and discrimination for speaking out on certain issues.
“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, whose father was killed for his faith
What’s life like for Christians in Colombia?
Daniela from Colombia is only 12, and she already knows how it feels to lose somebody close to her: her father, Plinio, was murdered because of his faith. He was a pastor in La Caucana, a dangerous part of Colombia. But Plinio knew that it was part of his ministry to his community to speak out against organised crime and help prevent young people being recruited.
Children are often the forgotten victims of persecution. Even if they aren’t directly targeted, the impact of having your parents threatened, attacked or even killed can last for many years. Thanks to your support, Open Doors partners were able to take Daniela, Sebastián and Alba to a children’s centre. They could have a break, safe from danger and away from sadness and isolation, finding comfort and joy 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. I felt good for the first time in a long time.”
Daniela also saw the change in her family. “She saw that she doesn’t have to walk through this time of grief alone,” Daniela says of her mum. “She felt surrounded by other people. For [my brother] Sebastián, it was the best experience he ever had! He likes to run and play football, so he invited the boys to play with him at the Children’s Centre.”
How can I help Christians in Colombia?
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, community development projects, emergency relief aid, and education and safe houses for children.
Father God, thank You that You are stronger than any criminal groups. We pray that You would thwart the plans of guerrilla gangs and protect church leaders and others who speak against them. Give resilience and joy to Christians who've converted from indigenous faiths, and may they increasingly know Your love and presence. Amen.