Persecuted Children in Colombia
South America; invaded by Spain and Portugal in the 15th century, quickly converted from traditional forms of worship to Catholicism. Elaborate and ornate cathedrals were built as the priests steadily moved from village to village nation to nation, claiming the land for their home country… and for God. Today in South America, God’s faithful servants still travel bringing the gospel message. But none comes at such a high price as in the country of Colombia.
Colombia, strategically positioned, has shores on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and is the gateway between Central and South America. With its fertile plains and abundant rainfall, Colombia is also a perfect place to grow cocaine. And, because of the high demand for this product, many Christians have lost their lives in the battle between the drug cartels, the military troops and paramilitary rebel forces.
Pastors in villages, faithful to their calling, spend their days encouraging those protecting the cocoa crops to put down their guns and pick up a Bible. Drug lords, angered when their hired henchmen no longer are willing to perform the “expected” duties once they accept Jesus, have turned their vengeance toward the source…the Christian pastors. But, instead of killing the pastors, they go after their children. As a result Colombia has been known as the kidnapping capital of the world. Each year hundreds of children are taken against their will and forced to work in the cocoa trade.
Ten years ago, after hearing of the Christian pastors’ struggle to protect their families; Open Doors opened a place of refuge for these vulnerable children. For most, this has become their permanent home. Their days are spent from dawn to dusk tending crops and caring for animals on the farm, attending school classes and performing household chores. But, in the midst of their daily routine, is Jesus. As they learn to depend on Him for their needs, each child is learning to forgive, learning to be at peace and learning what it means to be loved by God.
This December three of the children will leave the home for good. At the age of 18 they are no longer children, and must now make a life outside of the home. Scary yes – but also promising! Equipped with a high school diploma and marketable skills they have a hope and future beyond the cocoa fields. For the remaining children…today they are safe and secure…their eighteenth birthday is a long way off. And yet, a day does not go by that they think of their home village, their sister and brothers, but especially they miss their mom’s and dad’s.
Visit the Open Doors website for details on how you can send a letter of love and encouragement to the children living at the home.