Tibu, a town located in eastern Colombia, is under armed strike organized by FARC, a revolutionary armed force group.
Since June 12 Open Doors has received reports from a local pastor. In the reports he says that the guerrillas had initially held a peaceful march protesting the governments lack of alternative projects to eradicate coca crops used for illicit drug trafficking activities. The pastor added that an army commander in the area believed however that other interests were behind the protests.
According to information published on several media sites, gradually the intensity of the protest grew and several riots broke out in Tibu. The riots forced the Colombian army to intervene causing the once peaceful protests to become violent. As a result the protester began to loot and set fire to houses including the home of the major. According to an Open Doors contact who spoke with pastors in the region, they claim that although the government initiated a curfew, lawlessness is rampant and that the situation is quite difficult, adding that food is scarce, and several of the pastors have been threatened.
This region over the years has been plagued with violence. Timoleon Jimenez, alias Timochenko, the FARC leader resides in this area. Also, it has been a place of refuge for the National Liberation Army (ELN) and paramilitary groups. Over the past few years armed guerrillas have closed two churches of the World Missionary Movement. In addition, in an effort to exert their dominance in the area, they extort bribes and other ‘payments” from pastors and believers, forbid Christians to tithe, force villagers to work the coca fields, and ban entry into the region be anyone not belonging to the area.
In the wake of the riots, Open Doors has taken great risk to send money to help the local pastors. Also, Open Doors is planning to host a pastor leadership and character training seminar next month in the area. Please join in praying for this event to still take place and for safety and provision for believers in the area.
Father, as we consider today the plight of these believers, we cry out to you for justice. Father, first we ask for protection for pastors and church leaders, and their families. We know that they take great risks to keep the gospel alive amid the struggle for power and dominance between the armed groups and drug lords. Also father we know because of their faith in you they often are the poorest members of the community. Father, provide for all of their needs…in abundance! ;And Father, we also pray for the training scheduled for July to take place; may it bring blessings to the pastors of the region. In Your name we pray, Amen