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God’s Smuggler Amid War

July 24, 2013 by Open Doors in General

God's Smuggler Amid War

As a teenager, Pablo (alias) served as a guerrilla spy, living among coca growers and using his truck to transport cocaine and political propaganda throughout vast regions controlled by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.)

Pablo’s life changed dramatically one day when he encountered a paramilitary group that had encroached upon the region. In a desperate attempt to save his life, he told these illegal extreme rightist fighters everything he knew about the illegal extreme leftist group to which he belonged. Miraculously, the violent group allowed Pablo to live. After his narrow escape, he abandoned the FARC.

Soon after, he met Christians who had been forcibly displaced by FARC rebels. Pablo’s heart was touched as these Christians shared the gospel with him. Hearing for the first time about the hope found in Christ, he surrendered his life to the Lord. Believing God had spared his life for a reason, Pablo asked the Lord to deliver him from the decades-long guerilla conflict, and gratefully promised to serve Him for the rest of his days.

Pablo later came in contact with a pastor serving as an Open Doors volunteer. When the pastor asked Pablo to help smuggle Bibles to people in war zones who were without any other access to God’s Word; the former FARC member immediately agreed.

Little by little Pablo gained inhabitants’ trust in some of the war-ravaged regions in which rebels, espousing Communist ideology, severely persecute Christians. In 2010, a rebel FARC leader named Mono Jojoy declared pastors military targets and the Bible the most lethal weapon against his interests because Christians practice biblical principles that stand in opposition to the guerrillas’ Communist doctrine and violent practices.

Pablo’s passion is to go where others can’t travel, deep into Colombia’s jungles, to bring the gospel to those suffering in areas ruled by militants. He even distributed Bibles in the very region where Mono Jojoy was hiding from the Colombian army.

When Pablo’s former FARC comrades discovered that he’d become a believer, they labeled him as a threat, reported his movements to their authorities and began to hunt him down. Jojoy spared no effort in stopping Pablo, accusing Pablo of being an army informant and blaming him for desertions and surrenders of guerrillas because of Bibles and Christian books he’d delivered to these zones. He issued an order for Pablo’s capture and murder.

Although Mono Jojoy was killed in a military operation in 2010, the edict for Pablo’s death remains in effect. One night last year, the guerrilla death squad tracking him approached his home. Pablo hid at a neighbor’s house until dawn, and then escaped to Bogota.

For 10 years Pablo has been involved with Open Doors, beginning as a researcher, Bible distributor and Bible teacher. Since 2006 he’s served as a volunteer coordinator for the guerilla-dominated Meta and Guaviare regions where Christians, pastors and leaders have faced frequent threats, murder, church closures and forced displacement. In these two jungle regions guerrillas tenaciously defend their strongholds where FARC farmers cultivate coca, the plant from which cocaine is made, and protect narcotrafficking routes that finance their operations.

In the past year Open Doors has learned that guerrillas often require Christians to participate in FARC activities, such as protest marches, and force children and teenagers in the church to become guerrillas and prostitutes. In addition, persecuted Christians frequently lose income, housing and lands due to forced displacement by illegal armed groups. Added to the economic hardship in an already depressed region is the demand for vacunas, “taxes” that are more accurately termed as extortion money.

Victims often lose their homes, lands and personal possessions. For the past six years, Open Doors Colombia has helped victims of persecution regain economic stability through microcredit-small loans that have great impact not only on their own lives but often on the lives of others. Those receiving microloans plan a unique, visionary project that will enhance their ability to provide for themselves, their ministries and their families.

Aware of the rising danger, Pablo felt the need to seek greater economic stability for his family and ministry. He applied to receive funding for an agricultural project. His vision extends beyond his own family’s needs to assist other former militants as well. For Pablo, who formerly lived among FARC coca growers, receiving the microloan helped him learn more efficient time management as well as many technical skills related to farming. This pilot project involves learning agriculture methods with former rebels like him in a self-sustaining farm. Pablo says that the program has tremendously impacted his entire family.

“When you’re forced to leave everything and flee for your life, that doesn’t leave much opportunity to seek work options,” Pablo said. “The financial support that Open Doors provides through its microloan program gives greatly needed stability for my family and me.”

Pablo has fearlessly chosen to continue his work in spite of the threats against his life. “My job is providing Bibles and talking to people about Christ,” Pablo said. “God does the rest. After people start reading the Bible, something supernatural happens. The simple act of having a Bible in your hands causes miracles to happen.” Pablo is crystal clear in his calling-to be an instrument of God in regions of rising armed conflict. “God does not want this war,” Pablo said. “He wants fighters to know and accept Him. For that I was called-to bring the Good News to people who need the light of the Word.”

Father, thank You for Pablo’s faithfulness in serving You in the midst of much danger, for his obedience to Your call on his life and for his complete trust in Your sovereign protection. Open up doors of opportunity for him, Lord, to provide Bibles to guerrillas, paramilitaries, Army soldiers and others in the Colombian jungles. Take the Word provided and draw many to lay down their arms and follow You. Thank You for the work of Open Doors in providing microloans to Christians and former militants like Pablo who have limited opportunities for work. Raise up a mighty band of believers to bring about peace in this land. In the name of Jesus who has entered the enemy camp and rescued His own. Amen.

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