Colombia: From Widowhood to Hope

August 10, 2016 by Janelle P in Latin America

Open Doors’ trauma recovery program for Colombian widows has helped turn around the future for 13 women in the Arauca region, where so many Christian wives and families have faced the tragic martyrdom of their husbands and fathers.

Implemented for the first time in Colombia, three successive workshops provided a healing and practical step forward for these women. Most were left paralyzed with grief, unable to forgive their persecutors or help their children, let alone find a way to support themselves.

After the third session in December, Margarita* declared, “I was really another person before this… I did not want to do anything in the church and was not able to do anything. But now it is different. In the first meeting, it was like I had taken out all the pain inside me. In the second, I was ministered to with restoration through the Word, and in the third, I was helped to identify my gifts.”

At the first workshop, she and the other widows had cut and sewed tapestries, depicting their personal tragedies. Margarita had been very quiet, still frozen in her pain after hearing that the body of her husband had been cut in pieces and thrown into a river.

The second meeting openly confronted the women with the truths of God’s Word about forgiveness, along with how to deal with their children as single parents and allow God to fulfill His plan for their lives.

Ludis,* whose husband (a Christian singer) and brother-in-law had been killed by paramilitary groups, traveled 26 hours by bus to attend each of these workshops.

“Although I spent a long time coming, I feel I need to be here, because I feel hope,” Ludis said. “I have been taught how to deal with my children and practical advice to help me to assume with courage the role of father and mother at the same time.”

The third event focused on helping each one of the participants to identify their spiritual gifts and practical abilities.

Two of the participants have now begun income-generating projects to support themselves and their families. Ludis is pursuing a photography business along with the help and active involvement of her sons. Gloria,* whose pastor husband was killed in the eastern part of the country in September 2009, is taking training to design high-quality pictures for sale to churches as well to a growing local market.

After the third workshop, an Open Doors trainer reported, the women’s faces that had been so shadowed with sadness back in May, had been transformed by expressions of confidence and peace.

“After mourning, joy has begun to return to their hearts, with the hope of a new dawn,” she said. “Although the way is not easy for these women, they now understand the purpose of God for their lives.”

*Names changed for the security of these believers.