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COLOMBIA: Pastors Threatened by Guerilla Groups

COLOMBIA: Pastors Threatened by Guerilla Groups

A violent guerrilla group summoned nine Colombian pastors to a meeting on 8 July after the pastors refused to pay “protection money” in June.

On 7 July, the National Liberation Army (ELN) sent a note ordering the pastors to attend a meeting across the border in Venezuela, where the group operates with impunity. Many feared that the ELN might execute the pastors for refusing to pay the 2 million pesos ($930).

The pastors ask for prayer as they continue to face harassment from ELN members who have placed new restrictions on their churches. The guerrillas have forbidden the construction of new church buildings, and Christians are no longer allowed to meet in individual homes for worship or study. Additionally, any new pastors must be from the local region, and no one from outside the ELN-controlled region is allowed to visit the Christians there. ELN members also expect the pastors to help them financially from time to time because they are suffering from food shortages and a transportation strike.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to grant these pastors wisdom when dealing with ELN members; may He give them the right words to say. Pray for their protection and that of their families.
  • Pray the Gospel may continue to go forth in spite of these threats and restrictions.
  • Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to many ELN members; pray that through the witness of these pastors the members may be moved to consider Christ for themselves and start on a new path.

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MEXICO: Pastor Pedro Vazquez Released

MEXICO: Pastor Pedro Vazquez Released

On 29 March Pastor Pedro Vazquez was abducted from his village in Chiapas, Mexico, by a violent group known as Chinchulines. Pastor Vazquez was held in a nearby village and his family members and church congregation were very concerned that he would be killed.

Pastor Vazquez works in an area where pastors and Christian workers have been threatened with death and evangelicals are often expelled from their communities, losing land, homes and crops.

Pastor Pedro Vazquez has since been released.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

 Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the pastor’s release. Ask the Lord to help him and his family overcome their ordeal.
  • Pray for this church as they continue to share God’s Word in an area that is hostile to the Gospel. Ask for the Lord’s protection to be upon them; pray for courage.
  • Pray the witness of Pastor Vazquez may be used by the Lord to touch the hearts of this group and be the instrument the Lord uses to open them to the message of the Gospel.

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CHILE: Two Christian Churches Ablaze

CHILE: Two Christian Churches Ablaze

On Thursday 31 March, two Christian churches in Chile, one Catholic and one evangelical, were set ablaze by supporters of the Mapuche cause, a movement of indigenous Chileans which seeks to rid the area of religions contrary to their indigenous beliefs. These were the most recent arsons out of a total of five perpetrated in 24 hours.

The first attack ensued at the commune of Padre Las Casas, where the Catholic church of Santa Joaquina was burned. At the site, a pamphlet was discovered which alluded to the Mapuche, warning that their “grandparents and ancestors have also been burned to death,” a reference to the violence committed against their ancestors by Spanish colonialists.

Just hours later, an evangelical church, the Christian Union in Antinao, Chile, was also set on fire. Again, a pamphlet was found which read, “We are going to burn all churches.” This pamphlet also requested the liberation of Mapuche political prisoners.

According to Pastor Jose Dario Pineda, “We never imagined that these attacks would occur in our community. There is no conflict in our community. We are all Christians and live in peace.” The damages to the churches are estimated to be around $10 million.

This provoked governmental authorities to meet with leaders of the Mapuche in an effort to resolve this situation. The next morning, the Public Ministry named a special prosecutor to investigate the crimes in La Araucania, Chile. Eleven individuals had been arrested and charged in connection with this case.

Source: International Christian Concern

Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord there were no reported injuries as a result of the fires. Thank the Lord the authorities have taken steps to protect the Christian community from further harm.
  • Pray these crimes will in no way discourage the Christians in the area and throughout the nation, but instead encourage an effective witness for the Gospel through the outpouring of love and forgiveness and a promotion of church unity.
  • Pray for members of the Mapuche group; ask the Lord to have mercy on them and bring many to repentance.

 

 

Living with Christ in Colombia’s Red Zones

Living with Christ in Colombia’s Red Zones

I know theology. They know God.

Recently, I had the privilege and honour of visiting several dear sisters in Christ in Bogota, Colombia, a city which has seen a recent growth in economy and safety and therefore tourism. However, if you leave behind the bustle of modern Bogota, you enter the rural ‘red zones’ where villages and families are caught in the crosshairs of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), ELN (National Liberation Army), and paramilitary groups. We hear so often of Islamic State and Boko Haram these days that we forget the cruelty of the FARC’s indiscriminate murder of those that they find useless — those who won’t join their ranks or buy drugs to fund their guerrilla warfare — usually, Christians.

Imagine living in a village where you and your neighbours could be killed if the FARC thought you supported the paramilitary, or vice versa. Trust is difficult. The women I met had lost homes, husbands, and children because of the violence. I sat next to ‘Milena’ as the translator relayed her story. Her tears needed no translation. Her story came out haltingly as she hesitated to open fresh wounds, but when we asked her if God had been with her, the words poured out of her; He had been her comfort and strength in her loss and loneliness.

As I hugged, listened to and prayed for these women, I was struck with the knowledge that I did not know God as they did, despite all the Bible studies, church services, and conferences I’ve been too. Their experience of Him is so much deeper than mine, hence the realisation that most of my knowledge of God is theological head knowledge.

After visiting Colombia, I cannot say that I prayed to lose everything I own. I did not walk into my house and ask God to take it all away from me. It is my hope, however, that I am growing to see all that I have as luxuries, not as blessings. Luxuries that I could very easily do without if God asked me if He could take them away.

The world says, “Pursue your own happiness and gain earthly wealth.” Live for luxury.

Christ says, “Find your joy in Me and gain the treasures of heaven.” I’ll let Him decide what persecution or suffering I will endure on this life. I am just called to obey, regardless of the cost.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:11-12, emphasis mine)

The real beauty of Colombia isn’t in the modern, mountainous city of Bogota, but the lives of Milena and the others that have learned to count their blessings, not their luxuries. They have the blessing of the knowledge of the Most High God.

Leah Grant writes for The Voice of the Martyrs USA

MEXICO: Couple Threatened for Sharing the Gospel

MEXICO: Couple Threatened for Sharing the Gospel

A Christian couple in southern Mexico was harassed and threatened on their way to a wedding celebration.

‘Cesar’ and ‘Laura’ were on their way to a wedding when they were stopped by a large group of people, who began insulting them because they were Christians. Locals had already threatened to stop the Christian wedding and had blocked roads in the village.

Cesar and Laura asked police officers for help when they arrived, but the officers told them to handle the situation themselves and left. Two women then grabbed Laura by her arms, threatening that she would be the first person burned for sharing the Gospel in their area. Cesar rescued his wife, and they fled in their car.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA

Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for Cesar and Laura’s escape. Pray this incident will not cause them to fear but instead may they ever rely on the Lord for His strength and protection.
  • Pray the Lord will open up more opportunities for Cesar and Laura to share the Gospel; may they spur others on to do the same.
  • Pray for those in the area who oppose the Lord and His Word; ask God to reveal Himself to them through His Holy Spirit.

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