*Orphan girl drawing to heal her pain
When Rosalbina’s husband abandoned her with two small children, the single mother faced a seemingly impossible situation. Desperate to provide for her family, she joined the The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a paid collaborator.
While serving the leftist rebel group, however, she came to faith in Christ. Soon she began to distance herself from her FARC duties. She distributed Bibles to her colleagues and preached the gospel to them. Then she told her commanders that she wanted to leave the FARC because of her faith.
Her infuriated commanders responded by killing her in front of her 13-year-old daughter. Two days after her mother’s death, the traumatized girl came with her brother to live at the Open Doors Children’s Center, where she would stay for the next four years.
After Rosalbina’s daughter finished her studies at the Children’s Center, she continued her education at a university. But the deep grief that accompanied her mother’s martyrdom remained an open wound in her soul. When her grandparents died, she moved in with a cousin, far from her estranged father and two brothers who seldom communicated with her. Her sister, only 5 months old when their mother was murdered, was sent to live with a verbally abusive aunt and uncle. Alone in her grief, she plunged into depression that drove her to consider suicide. She constantly wondered, “Why has God taken my mom, if He knew that I’d have such great suffering?”
Earlier this year, however, the now 20-year-old young woman reconnected with Open Doors, which reinitiated its support of her through pastoral care visits and financial help to continue her studies. In addition, the ministry invited her to “Called to Live,” a three-day gathering sponsored by Open Doors Colombia for Christians orphaned or widowed through the martyrdom of their parents or spouses. There she rejoiced to be reunited with her younger sister, who also took part in the gathering. The Lord brought healing to her heart as she shared her testimony and heard powerful preaching that strengthened her faith.
During the conference she took the microphone to encourage other young people to pray for the Persecuted Church. Her tearful words emerged from God’s work of healing and restoration in her heart. Her ongoing despair regarding her mother’s death, seven years earlier, met with deep understanding from other “Called to Live” participants.
The conference provided an opportunity for some 70 survivors, both young and old, to forgive those who murdered their loved ones and find peace through inner healing. No matter their ages, those like Rosalbina’s daughter who are further along on the path to recovery, ministered to those whose sufferings remain raw and constant.
Some youth in attendance answered the Lord’s call to Christian service and several made the decision to follow Jesus.
Some of the survivors at the conference remained burdened by unanswered questions; others needed more time to process the enormous pain of trying to understand and accept why God allowed their loves one, His faithful servants, to be brutally murdered.
One such participant was a girl who lost her mother when she was 9 years old, just over two years ago. On that fateful day, her mother Zoraida shared the gospel with two young women who came to her house. She didn’t know that the women were guerrillas. They reported Zoraida to their commander, who issued an order to kill her. That very night guerrillas broke into the family’s home and murdered her. Her husband and their four daughters fled for their lives to another city.
Now 11, this hurting young girl came to the conference with her father and three sisters. At first she was angry; she spoke about her ongoing suffering because of her mother’s absence. She struggled with the thought of extending forgiveness to her mother’s killers. By the end of the conference, however, the Lord had worked a beautiful transformation in her perspective on Zoraida’s death, empowering her to forgive. Her youngest sister also found healing as those around her embraced her with Christ’s love.
Participants in the conference received encouragement to take on the difficult task of forgiving both their persecutors and themselves. At the end, participants reported that they felt new freedom because their choice to forgive had enabled them to understand Christ’s love in their lives. When the meeting ended, one participant said, “Now I don’t have a burdened heart anymore”
“God spoke to me a lot about the need for forgiveness, and now I’m free,” another said. “I’m a different person because the Lord has changed my life.”
Father, we thank You for the profound work of forgiveness You are accomplishing in the hearts of these people whose loved ones were mercilessly slaughtered before their very eyes. Continue to strengthen and heal their shattered souls. Take the Word planted in their hearts during the conference and cause the sprouts of forgiveness, freedom and joy to remain, flourish, and produce abundant fruit. And may that joy, born out of forgiveness, overflow and spill out into the lives of others who share their suffering that Your church in Colombia might worship and minister in the strength and power of Christ in them. In the name of Jesus who died and rose again that we might live. Amen.