Open Doors has learned that a 24-year-old pastor has been murdered in Colombia.
On Saturday evening (February 9, 2019), Pastor Leider Molina, 24, was murdered as he was leaving the church where he had just preached a message in the rural community in Caucasia (the country’s northwestern region). He was shot five times.
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Known for his passion for preaching the Word of God, the young pastor was a youth leader known for actively serving his community and church. The region where he was killed is also home to Pastor Galarza who was murdered in front of his family last September 2018.
Both pastors murdered in Colombia (No. 47 on the 2019 World Watch List) were known for their commitment to actively work for the betterment of their communities and to not succumb to the threats of criminal groups.
Over the last four months, the Caucasia area has suffered record-high violence, due to the presence of armed groups that dispute the control of drug trafficking routes and the ownership of illicit crops. These groups see the Christian church as an enemy to be eradicated.
The preaching and courageous action of leaders and pastors in the country have dissuaded many young people from joining these criminal groups. Many youth have even renounced armed conflict and illegal operations. Today, it’s estimated that some 14,000 children are enlisted in criminal arms groups in Colombia.
And in places where the Christian church maintains a strong influence, residents are less inclined to be part of criminal operations. By preaching the Word of God, the Christian church establishes a direct opposition to the purposes of the armed groups. In response, these groups attack the church’s leaders.
Despite the Threat
Our Open Doors team reports that the repeated crimes of pastors murdered in Colombia and the continued threat of conflict in the area have left the Christian church terrified. Some believers have fled with their families; others are staying, waiting for the government to intervene.
Despite the death threats, determined pastors and Christian leaders continue to risk it all and continue their ministry work in the face of ongoing persecution. From illegal armed groups (Communist guerrillas, paramilitary groups, criminal gangs) to drug cartels, the Christian church in Colombia has suffered for their faith and commitment to opposing crime in their local communities for many years.
The violent deaths of Pastors Molina and Galarza reflect the arduous situation the Christian church in Colombia is facing. The church must preach the message of Christ in the midst of crossfire where the war in Colombia seems to have taken a new breath and is now escalating.
Praying With the Church in Colombia
- Please pray with the family and church of Pastor Molina (he had no wife or children) and the widow and children of Pastor Galarza.
- Pray with the church in the Caucasia area and throughout Colombia as they face this ongoing violence. Pray for protection and boldness as they continue to stay in the area and be a light in increasing darkness.
- Pray with church leaders in Colombia as they lead the church to follow Jesus and His ways despite the threat of losing their lives. Pray for their families to stand strong, as well.
- Pray specifically for youth throughout Colombia to stand strong against these criminal groups’ recruitment ploys. Pray that God would give these young people discerning eyes and a bold spirit to resist.
- Pray with parents who must send their children away from home to protect them. Ask God to bring them peace and comfort.
- Pray with Open Doors children’s centers in Colombia that minister to young people who have been rescued from paramilitary and criminal groups; or are children of Christians leaders whose families are often targeted.
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