Fate of Kidnapped Colombian Pastor Still Unknown

Monday, March 12, 2001

by Deann Alford

AUSTIN, Texas, March 12 (Compass) -- Jorge Enrique Gómez Montealegre has prayed for years for Colombia's guerrillas to lay down their arms and surrender to Christ. His family believes that now he's preaching to them.

Gómez' daughter Marcela, 21, said that his captors have kept silent in the weeks following his February 14 kidnapping. She denied the rumor flying around Bogota that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had demanded a $500,000 ransom for his safe return. Gómez is the prominent pastor of Bogota's Bethesda Missionary Center and operates a chain of evangelical radio stations across Colombia.

"They haven't communicated with us," Marcela Gómez said. "We don't know who has him, much less how much money is being asked."

The family, though, has its suspicions. "We had threats from the FARC some time ago," she said. "We believe the FARC has him, but we don't know that with certainty."

Marcela said that about five years ago, her father had received a letter telling him to stop preaching the gospel, or he would be killed. "He read it publicly in front of the church," she said. "He had always prayed for these men. He said that what we're going to give them is prayer and fasting, so the church beseeched God and prayed for them.

"Now God has called him to preach the Word to these men."

Gómez' daughter said that her father has received many threats through the years. Once at a gathering where he appeared in Bogota's Plaza Bolivar, authorities learned of and stopped the plot of a gang that intended to kill him. On several occasions, Marcela said, "We had information that the guerrillas were coming to the church and were very up on what we were doing." So Gómez directed his sermon to them. "He invited them to accept Christ."

More than once, guerrillas came into the church clandestinely armed and intending to murder Gómez. She recalled one instance about four years ago that happened in the church: "(A guerrilla) began to sob and then confessed (to Gómez), 'I came to this church to murder you.' The guerrilla accepted Christ," Marcela said.

Then the guerrilla disappeared because to convert to Christianity is to cause a rebel to lay down arms and serve God. Deserters are killed. "We won't ever know what happened to him, but the fact remains that he accepted Christ. That's the most important part."

Marcela Gómez is convinced that her father is in the center of God's will.

"We know that this was God's perfect plan," Marcela said. "God always kept him all those previous times. For this reason, I trust Him."

The family has received an outpouring of support from Christians around the world and from prominent Latino ministers, including Alberto Montesi and Yiye Ayala. "They're supporting us in the most important thing, which is prayer," Marcela said. "We won't rest until we have victory. And that's not victory just for the Gómez family, but for Colombia.

"We have greater faith in God that everything's going to work out okay," Marcela said. "When God has a purpose, He brings you peace, not just for others to see, but for the person to experience."

Copyright 2001, Compass News Direct. Used with Permission.