Evangelicals Call for Armed Groups to Respect Life
by Deann Alford
AUSTIN, Texas, May 8 (Compass) -- Twenty-five armed men entered a rural church in northern Colombia Tuesday night, May 6, and murdered its 80-year-old evangelical pastor and three other believers, confirmed the head of the nations evangelical alliance.
Among the dead is Miguel Mariano Posada, pastor of Sardis, a church in the Association of Caribbean Evangelical Churches denomination. The murders took place in his church, located in the town of Tierralta in Cordoba department, near Panama. The other victims were teacher and church treasurer Ana Berenice Girardo Velásquez; 80-year-old Natividad Blandón, the wife of another pastor; and 17-year-old Julio Torres, who was visiting the church.
Hector Pardo, head of the Colombian evangelical alliance CEDECOL, told Compass that he had not been able to confirm details of the murders or a motive for them.
The Cali newspaper El Pais reported that armed men called the victims by name and attacked them in the doorway of the church in front of other parishioners. El Pais, citing police sources, said that the men slashed Posada's and Girardo Velásquez's throats with a knife and shot Blandón and Torres with rifles, then fled into a wooded area.
No group has claimed responsibility, reported El Pais, but Pardo said that neither the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), nor the National Liberation Army (ELN), have had a presence in the area. Paramilitaries are believed to be responsible.
CEDECOL issued a statement calling for armed groups to respect life, expressing its concern for the recent turn of events, and reaffirming evangelicals' rejection of armed force against any human being as an expression of the search for justice and equality.
'[CEDECOL] asks Colombians to respond by seeking God, His wisdom and direction, while holding a firm hope in a peaceful solution to the wave of violence that is shaking the country, the statement read.