Pentecostal Pastors Shot Dead In Colombia

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (BosNewsLife) -- Two Pentecostal pastors have been assassinated in Colombia by suspected leftist rebels, Christian rights activists said Tuesday, July 10.

In a 'prayer alert' to supporters the Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM), an international Christian rights and advocacy group, said Pastors Humberto Mendez, 63, and Pastor Joel Cruz Garcia, 27, were apparently killed in the village of El Dorado last Thursday, July 5, by militants of the leftist guerrilla group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Local authorities reportedly said the pastors were approached by a group of armed men wearing camouflage clothing at around 8:00 pm local time, while they preached at an open-air evangelistic meeting. The armed men apparently called them by name and led them away. Their bodies were found the next day, 40 meters apart. Both had been shot in the head, Christian rights activists said.

Details about funeral arrangements were not immediately available.


The pastors leave a wife and children behind. Pastor Cruz's only child, a daughter is only a fewmonths old, said advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Pastor Mendez was the founder of the Prince of Peace Mission and planned to return to the city of Ibague in just a few months, after completing his work in the countryside. He had been active in prisons for several years and wanted to return to other work, CSW and VOM said.

A motive of the killings was not clear Tuesday, July 10, but FARC has been quoted as saying that Protestant pastors are among legitimate military targets as part of its struggle. The largely peasant army has fought for over four decades for a more equitable distribution of Colombia's wealth, but critics claim it wants to establish Communism.

Families of the murdered pastors have reportedly said that they never received any warnings or threats from FARC or other groups. VOM said it has urged supporters to pray for "the families, churches, and communities of these two men" so they remain will be "renewed [in their Christian] faith in the midst of great pain and fear. " (With reports from Colombia).

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