Tending the Broken and Persecuted of Colombia
Carolina* stood in the doorway of her home, staring numbly at the wreckage strewn before her. The sight was devastating, yet not entirely surprising. As Christian leaders in their community, Carolina and her husband Eduardo* had known it was only a matter of time before their stand for Christ caught the attention of the indigenous authorities. As she stood, observing the authorities’ “handiwork,” she wondered what would happen to her family now that they no longer had a place to live.
“You must leave,” the authorities had warned them. “If you return to this area, we will do more than destroy your home. We will kill you.”
Carolina and her family left everything they knew behind and fled to another region in Colombia. They briefly found refuge in a home in La Plata, but the owners of the home soon ordered them to leave because they disapproved of their Christian activities. The beleaguered family once again found themselves homeless. .
Their experience mirrors that of hundreds of other indigenous believers who have been exiled from their communities due to religious persecution. Christians are frequently despised and rejected by members of indigenous groups. The persecution is often so intense that Christians are forced to flee, as in the case of Carolina’s family. These displaced believers are left without homes, forced to construct makeshift shelters out of plastic and bits of wood.
Seeking a solution to these problems, Carolina became involved with the Christian organization OPIC. Established in 2009, Overseeds Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) supports projects related to education, health, and work opportunities for indigenous believers. Her involvement with OPIC and her strong leadership qualities soon drew the attention of Open Doors. With OD’s help, Carolina was able to open a safe house for believers who have been displaced and need housing.
Her large dark eyes light up as she speaks about this project. “This house is a place for sharing the gospel. I want to reach people who have not experienced the love of Jesus,” she shared. “Since I came to Christ, my mission has been to help and serve people. Now I understand why God created me in this way.”
The safe house also provides an opportunity for Carolina to use her gift of teaching. Thirty-nine children participate in classes held in the safe house. For one week per month, the children receive housing, food, and education from Carolina and Eduardo. The students travel from several locations to attend the school, some walking for up to 3 hours. The children are immediately drawn to Carolina, who showers them with the love of Jesus and teaches them biblical principles.
Despite losing her home and familiar way of life, Carolina remains strong in the Lord, knowing that what she has suffered is being used for the Glory of God and furtherance of the Gospel. It has been a joy for her to watch God provide in seemingly impossible situations. She continues her work with Open Doors and her impact is reaching a wide array of people.
*Names changed for security reasons