A Voice Stands Up Against Oppression
“We will have to expel Christians from here, because when we want to do something, they always stop us with their prayers.” These were the words said by a guerrilla in response to the San Antonio de Getucha’ Christians fasting and praying over a period of 40 days. Calling on the Lord for protection in every street of this small Colombian village of Caqueta, these faithful believers interceded on behalf of their community.
The 40 days of prayer and fasting began two months before the “Teofilo Forero”-an elite group from FARC-attacked the village. Their goal was to kill policemen and other security forces and to cause disruption in the village. For months the guerrilla group threatened to attack, driving the community into panic and fear. Pastor Liliana (alais) could take it no longer and insisted that her congregation take their concerns to the Lord.
On the day that the rebels finally attacked the village Pastor Liliana and other believers were inside the church praying and fasting. The onslaught lasted for 11 hours. Pastor Liliana told Open Doors that despite the length attack not a single person was killed! She explained that months prior to the assault the Holy Spirit had led her to rise up as a woman leader just like Deborah (Judges 4) and encourage the church to fast for 40 days. On the last day of this fast, she requested that the police allow her and members of her church inside the station to pray. She believes that only minor damage occurred during the attack because of their prayers.
In Colombia, the years of constant conflict have kept the church in a wartime mentality. Many unbelievers even turn to witchcraft and Satanism to shield them from their enemies. A former guerrilla, who is now a pastor, said even self-proclaimed atheists ask witches to “pray” for them and teach them rituals for protection.
Among the variety of spiritual opposition tactics, the illegal armed groups recognize the power of prayer in the hands of Christians as a very real obstacle to their plans.
One of the main conflicts that the church faces in Colombia is that guerrillas force farmers to grow coca instead of other agricultural crops, such as food. Many believers are driven to participate in planting these crops due to unemployment. More than one fifth of the guerrilla-owned illicit crops are located in Caqueta and Putumay, which explains their determination to maintain firm control over these zones.
In Caqueta, Open Doors is working to strengthen the persecuted church. Pastors in the region have attended workshops designed to help them raise awareness about doing God’s will. But many believers are resistant because they do not have any other means of providing for their families.
Many pastors in rural areas must ask permission from the guerrillas to be out after 6PM; others are fearful to preach the gospel in remote villages because the threat of stepping on a land mine left by the guerrillas. Pastor Liliana however is not afraid of going into the Caquet� jungles, crossing rivers and entering into inhospitable places, or to disobey the demands of the guerrillas. She states; “I do not ask permission from them, because I know that they will say ‘No.’ And I do not have to ask permission from the devil, because he opposes that the Word of God be known. I trust that the Lord goes with me. That is enough.”
Father, strengthen these beleaguered believers in Caqueta as they face great pressure from guerrilla rebels to become involved in illegal activities. They desire to serve You but have hungry children looking to them for food. Provide for them as they seek alternative ways of caring for their families. Protect the pastors who go out faithfully to preach the gospel in areas where there are constant clashes between the guerrillas and the army. Protect them from landmines and teach them to trust You. We pray special protection for Pastor Liliana as she serves You with courageous faith. In the name of Jesus, our stronghold, Amen.