Displaying items by tag: Colombia

Thursday, 27 April 2023 21:33

Venezuela: dangerous to go to school

13-year-old Marcelo and his younger brother leave their Venezuelan home at 4.30 am every day, to walk unaccompanied, in the dark, for 2 ½ hours, to attend school in Colombia. Their lessons start at 6.30. They slip into Colombia through informal border crossings known as trochas - dangerous rural dirt tracks weaving across the arid border, controlled by local armed groups, drug gangs and smugglers who often charge users a fee to pass through. In a sign of teenage bravado, Marcelo denies being scared of journeying through these crossings: he says, ‘I like coming to school in Colombia. They don't ‘have lessons where I live’. Venezuela's crumbling economy and socio-political crisis have pushed institutions to the brink. Rural schools are neglected, offering only a few lessons a week with a critical shortage of teachers. Official border crossings have reopened, but sadly few have the necessary papers to use them.

Published in Worldwide

Asking permission to preach was necessary for Leonardo. Not asking could result in death from Colombian guerrillas or paramilitaries. Pastors are obstacles to guerrillas’ political ambitions, as young Christians are no longer attracted to their violent lifestyles. One Sunday gangs stopped him outside the church saying, ‘Today no church preaching!’ So with a speaker and microphone he preached outdoors to young boys. Very quickly his outdoor church grew to 70 adults and 53 children. Most had never heard the gospel, but they soon found faith in Christ and were baptised. Now Leonardo is training several others to preach. It is dangerous to share the gospel so openly, but he knows God is with him.

Published in Praise Reports
Friday, 07 October 2022 11:33

Colombia: welcoming refugees

‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ (Isaiah 1:17) In Colombia, churches are playing a key role in welcoming and supporting the millions of refugees who have fled political and economic turmoil in Venezuela. Churches are able to reach out to remote communities where local authorities and humanitarian organisations are not working and build trusting relationships with refugees. With support from Tearfund, churches are providing quality services and activities, including trauma healing groups for women who have experienced violence. ‘It is the first support that I found here in Colombia for migrants like us’, says Julie, a Venezuelan refugee who attends a trauma healing group. ‘When I arrived at the church, I found peace that I previously did not have. When I got to the church, I saw that it was like my family.’

Published in Praise Reports
Friday, 08 October 2021 10:19

Colombia: churches’ trauma healing groups

Colombia is home to two million Venezuelan refugees who fled economic and political crises and now face adapting to and integrating into a foreign culture. But instead of finding support, they often find themselves isolated and discriminated against. Churches across Colombia have been reaching out to these refugees, letting them know they are not alone. Tearfund and local partners have been equipping churches to set up trauma healing groups, which have supported hundreds of women. It was at her local church’s healing group that Julia finally found acceptance, community, and healing. ‘It is the first support that I found here in Colombia for migrants like us. When I arrived at the church I found the peace that I previously did not have. I saw that it was like my family. I arrive and they hug me, I leave and they hug me. It really has made me think about changing my life.’

Published in Praise Reports
Thursday, 03 June 2021 20:48

Colombia: violent protests

A wave of protests has been sweeping across Colombia since 28 April. By 31 May, 59 people had died. Protesters block key roads, causing shortages of fuel and food, and there have been violent clashes between the security forces and demonstrators. The government is holding talks with protest leaders, but with more and more groups joining in the demonstrations a quick resolution seems unlikely. When the protests started the main call was for tax reforms. Four days later the bill was withdrawn. Human rights groups reported that riot police had used tear gas and in some cases shot live ammunition to stop the protests. So rather than abating after the cancellation of the tax reform, the protests intensified. Over 2,300 civilians and members of the security forces have been injured. There have also been marches by thousands of Colombians opposing the roadblocks, causing more violent clashes.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 20 May 2021 21:24

Venezuela: thousands fleeing violence

Thousands of Venezuelans have fled to Colombia in the past month to avoid fighting. They are running away from intense armed clashes between Venezuela’s army and Colombia’s rebel groups. Refugees say they were pushed out of their homes by the military and describe human rights abuses, disappearances, and home break-ins. A prominent Colombian guerrilla fighter, Jesus Santrich, was killed in Venezuelan territory as part of the ongoing conflict. For a video of the extent of the troubles go to. Venezuela's ongoing economic and political turmoil could result in the biggest displacement of people in the world in recent years. It is an issue that has repercussions for the whole region. While many countries have acted to deter migrants, Colombia has taken a step in a radically different direction, granting nearly a million undocumented Venezuelans the right to stay for ten years.

Published in Worldwide

For many Christians, times, location and form vary greatly as they seek to worship God safely. On Sunday morning in a village in Colombia Gabriel, an indigenous Christian wakes up to prepare a service which he will lead later that day. Shortly afterwards, he leaves his house and goes to a deserted place, in the middle of the forest, hidden from everyone. In his village, being a Christian results in persecution. Christians do everything to keep the peace by participating in local activities, meetings, and traditional rituals. The latter is an obligation that Christians must fulfil, otherwise they are arrested, questioned, punished and detained until they renounce their faith. They want to stop engaging in traditional rituals that go against Christianity, but it is not easy. They gather in hidden places to pray, sing, and study the Bible.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 18 June 2020 21:55

Once a guerrilla, now a Bible distributor

When Sara was 14, she left home and joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Attracted to the group’s Marxist ideology and in search of acceptance, Sara joined FARC to bring about a Colombian revolution. Years later she was urged by fellow guerrillas to denounce her family, who had become Christians; they knew the gospel ran counter to their violent ideology. But Sara left FARC, rejoined her family, got married, and now places her trust in Christ. Because God saved her from a violent life, she feels compelled to share His Word with others who have given their lives to the guerrilla group. She and her husband now distribute Bibles to youth. Their ministry has not gone unnoticed, as FARC leaders have threatened them many times.

Published in Praise Reports
Thursday, 28 November 2019 22:48

Latin America: a new Cold War?

Many geopolitical media watchers and prayer warriors believe the growing wave of anti-government protests ravaging the streets of Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Colombia hasn’t been seen since the old Cold War, which is why the increase in protests and tensions might be called Cold War 2.0 in Latin America. This time, at least as yet, there aren’t armed proxy groups in play but Moscow has weaponised social unrest to sabotage Western power in the region. Earlier this decade we saw similar issues on Russia’s strategic periphery, notably in Ukraine in the wake of the 2014 Maidan protests and the 2005 Orange Revolution. These protesters aren’t necessarily armed Marxists, but anti-government and armed with anti-US rhetoric. Much the same approach is evident in Moscow’s support for Nicholas Maduro’s failing regime in Venezuela, with the help of Cuban operatives. Russia has become increasingly adept at using social media to disperse disinformation on the Internet.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 01 August 2019 23:24

South America: nations with high crime rates

Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela have colossal crime rates which undermine growth, threaten human welfare, and impede social development, according to the UN and World Bank. The region registers 40% of the world’s murders despite having only 9% of the global population. One in four Latin Americans was assaulted and robbed in 2018. Wealthy Brazilians have to provide their own security. Pray for the church and the police to bring security and peace to Brazil’s vulnerable population. Massive street marches in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil protesting against violence have made it difficult for politicians to avoid dealing with the issue and, in many countries, tackling crime is a central theme in political party platforms across the region. Pray for God to raise up strong, wise men and women with God’s anointing to lead the countries back to His purposes.

Published in Worldwide
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