Lidia* from Colombia did what many mothers would not do. And maybe Lidia herself had to think twice before doing it. First she moved with her husband, Manuel, and their toddler and baby to an area controlled by the FARC, an illegal armed group in Colombia. Manuel and Lidia felt called to go and preach the gospel in this difficult region.
“In 2000 we became pastors of a small church in a place where Christians are seen as number one enemy by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The moment we arrived there, we started to share the gospel. Twenty days after we arrived, the FARC came and demanded we stop our church services. They did everything to prevent us from sharing about Jesus. So we gathered with other Christians deep in the jungle. A soul won for Jesus is a soul lost for the guerrillas. They knew that too.”
In 2009, the worst imaginable thing happened. FARC fighters entered the house of the family, killed Manuel in front of his wife and children and shouted: “We killed this dog here and everyone who stands up to preach the gospel will receive the same treatment!” As this news spread fast in the little town, fear crippled the entire congregation. The same day, devastated Lidia and her children fled the region. Reflecting on those days in which her life fell apart, she says: “I am convinced that God allows difficult moments to happen so that others might know Christ. We can really do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
That doesn’t mean it was easy to accept. During the months after the murder, Lidia, Felipe and Inez were in survival mode. Lidia worked through the loneliness and loss and she saw that it wasn’t going well with her children, especially not in school. Lidia made a difficult, but courageous decision; a choice that might have been in her head since the moment she heard about the Children’s Center shortly after the murder. She hadn’t been able to let go of her children up until this point, knowing she would be left completely alone. She prayed and realized she could do it with God’s strength. God said, “I will be more than a Father to your children. They will not be alone.” This confirmation gave Lidia the courage to let her children go.
It went well with Felipe and Inez at the Children’s Center. They found loving staff who became family to them. Meanwhile, Lidia was building up her life and holding Sunday school classes in her church. But as often as she could, she called her children and brought them home for holidays. “It’s so important they lived in the Children’s Center. Not only because they were fed spiritually, but also because they met other children who have also lived through difficult moments. And I saw that the people in the Children’s Center were used by God to fulfill the role of father to my children. It hurt to see that my children were missing their father, but I also saw them grow stronger and find other people who became family to them. And I also feel part of the Children’s Center.”
The beds in Lidia’s house are still empty. But the beds no longer tell her a story of loss. They tell her the miraculous ways of the Heavenly Father who is in control. Even in difficult moments, even when you suffer for His sake.
*Names and photos are representative for the safety of persecuted Christians