Colombia: Elections Pose Little Hope for Endangered Believers

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Alvaro Uribe won May's presidential election on a promise to step up the war against the country's Marxist rebels, but at least one of Colombia's mission leaders doesn't think it will make much difference.

"We feel overwhelmed by so much violence and terror, the pressure against the churches and the prohibitions that will not allow us to visit certain regions occupied by armed groups," one indigenous mission leader told Christian Aid. He heads a ministry that evangelizes and plants churches in some of the most dangerous regions of the country.

"[The rebels] do not wish to see any believers in the region," he said. In two places, congregations were forced to abandon their church buildings with all the furnishings. "We are not allowed to preach the Word."

The new president has his work cut out for him. According to a May 28 Guardian article by Martin Hodgson, "Some 64% of Colombians live in poverty, while political strife and rampant crime make the country one of the most violent on earth, with 22,000 leftwing rebels waging war against state security forces and an illegal paramilitary army of 12,000 rightwing fighters."

Meanwhile, the mission leader says that his missionaries are seeing the Lord glorified even in the midst of danger. "Believers continue persevering in the faith of our Lord," he said. "Continue to pray for Colombia and for the safety of the brethren who live in these dangerous regions."