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(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday August 26, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
Colombia: Population: 50.2 million, Christian 47,700 million (95%)
In Colombia, a largely Christian country, persecution is localized—and violent. Church leaders are threatened, harassed, extorted, and even murdered as a result of the violence perpetrated by guerrillas and other criminal groups, especially in the country’s more remote areas. In most cases, this violence is the direct result of Christians denouncing corruption and violence, working for the defense of human and environmental rights, serving among youth, and pursuing peace and justice—all endangering the illegal activities of criminal gangs. Christians are seen as impediments to the forced recruitment of people, especially youth, to rebel groups and to the drug trade and organized crime that pay for these groups.
In indigenous communities, significant opposition exists toward Christian missionaries and indigenous converts, who can face imprisonment, physical abuse, and the confiscation of property, among other forms of punishment. In addition, there seems to be an increasing intolerance for Christians in the public sphere and an emphasis on secularism over and above a pluralistic society that values all voices, including Christians. Christians can be wrongly seen as bigots or discriminatory, and opposition to historical Christian beliefs has been violent at times.
Colombia’s rank on the 2021 World Watch List rose by 11 spots over last year’s list. The most significant factors leading to the country’s steady rise up the list, are the violence from rebel groups—including the return of a group within FARC to guerilla activities—along with the persecution faced by indigenous Christians who have departed a traditional religion. Additionally, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected groups who were already vulnerable to criminal gangs, particularly in areas of the country that are at least partially controlled by these violent groups.
- Pray that for the establishment of a strong government that can put an end to all guerilla and narcotic activities.
- Pray for Christians in indigenous communities in Colombia. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, indigenous communities are restricting access to their communities and, in some cases, blocking roads that lead to their native lands. These actions prevent missionaries from reaching out to Christians and even providing help.
- Pray for Christians living in areas controlled by rebel and criminal groups. Pray God would keep them safe and give them courage to continue to live out and preach His gospel.
- Pray for the families of church leaders who have been killed in Colombia this year. Pray God will be their comfort and will bring them healing from trauma.
- Pray for a NGO Children’s Center which was established in Colombia as a place to protect children whose families have been threatened or displaced.
- Guerrilla groups in Colombia are known to recruit Christian children and pray for those who are at risk of being recruited.
- Pray that the Lord will up raise up strong Christian leaders that can counter act violence and intolerance towards Christians.
- Pray for unity among all the Christian churches.
- Pray for NGOs to support Christians in indigenous communities with training and with the setting up of Christian education for indigenous children. That NGOs will strengthen the persecuted church in Colombia by developing and delivering Bible materials, constructing Christian schools for indigenous Christians, providing education programs, and bringing emergency aid to persecuted followers of Jesus.
- Pray that the Lord will guide and protect His believers when they reach out to give the Good News
- Pray that Believers can love and forgive their persecutors.
- Pray that the Lord that many Christians will stop honoring him with their lips only and start honoring Him with their hearts. So that the His church can continue to grow.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.
Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.
“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.
We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.
(L’Observatoire de la Christianophobie) On Thursday, April 25, when protests organized by trade union centers in Bogota, Colombia, took place, a bunch of leftist fanatics attacked the cathedral and the episcopal palace of the capital, and tagged their walls in abundance. They also stoned the police deployed outside the entrance of the cathedral to prevent any intrusion. Thirty-five people were arrested by the police. The video below, in Spanish, shows images of the misdeeds committed.
Source: ACI Prensa , April 26, 2019.
VOP Note: Thank you to Daniel Hamiche for his concern and dedication to the Persecuted Church. Hamiche is a journalist and president of the Association Amitié catholique France / United States. In 2007, he launched the blog Americatho (now a member of the reinforcement portal Riposte Catholique). He is administrator and editor of the blog The Observatory of Christianophobia.
An estimated 150 churches closed since July.
December 18, 2013 (Morning Star News) – Christians in southern Colombia are living in constant danger from a guerrilla army that has banned worship services in rural areas under its control.
An estimated 150 churches have been forced to close since July, when the 32nd Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP in Spanish) launched a repressive campaign against Roman Catholic and evangelical churches in the department (state) of Putumayo.
The FARC-EP has prohibited celebration of the Mass and Protestant worship in most small town and villages. Only congregations that have express permission from the rebel group are allowed to hold services without fear of retaliation.
Christians at greatest risk are the members of house churches and the itinerant evangelists who serve them.
“Every time my husband or another church leader leaves to go preach in the countryside, I can only ask, ‘Lord, continue to watch out for the safety of every one of them,” Jeanet Ortiz Pinto, wife of itinerant evangelist and radio speaker Angel Pinto, told Morning Star News. “My heart is saddened to see what is happening around us.”
The Pintos have pastored the Church of God in Puerto Asis, Putumayo since 1988. Angel Pinto also serves as itinerant pastor of several newly planted churches in the region.
During his 25-year ministry, Pinto has been captured five times by armed groups. Twice they told him he would be executed for violating FARC-imposed bans against preaching.
In both cases, local commanders released the pastor once they realized who he was – his congregation operates a well-known rescue ministry for war orphans.
“Some of those orphans belong to us; their parents were our comrades in arms,” they told Pinto the last time they spared him. “If we kill you, they will have nobody else to care for them.”
The FARC is known to have assassinated hundreds of evangelical church leaders over the years, including some of Pinto’s ministerial colleagues in Puerto Asis.
Guerrilla threats have driven six priests from their parishes in the Diocese of Mocoa, according to press reports.
“In the manual of coexistence issued by area FARC units, they have ordered us to close our churches, prohibited us from visiting outlying communities, or to preach – in effect, we must cease religious celebrations altogether,” Monsignor Luis Alberto Parra, bishop of Mocoa, told El Colombiano.
In the 50 years since the FARC launched its guerrilla war, 220,000 persons have lost their lives, according to a study by Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory. Hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced by the violence, creating one of the world’s largest populations of internal refugees.
Ironically, the current aggression against Christians is happening while the Colombian government is engaged in negotiations with the FARC in Havana, Cuba, with a view to developing a comprehensive peace plan. The Colombian government tapped politicians, journalists, businessmen, and retired police and military officers to form the negotiating team, but no religious leaders.
Eneida Herrera, an evangelical and professor of Public Finance at the Autonomous University of the Americas, lamented that the church has suffered violence from armed groups yet was excluded from talks in Havana.
“Should the Havana negotiations fail to produce anything positive, we can expect an even greater wave of violence than what has occurred to date,” Herrera told Morning Star News. “The church and the local communities are the ones who will have to live with the results, whether good or bad.”
Pedro Mercado, adjunct secretary of the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church, reportedly said he was “very worried.”
“We assumed that, in the face of the peace process, pressure from the FARC was going to diminish,” he told reporters. “But on the contrary, it has grown harsher. We are watching with worry the security threats to our priests and bishops, which restrict our freedom to preach the word of God.”
On Friday (Dec. 13), the 48th Front of the FARC-EP tried to take by force the village of Caicedo, about 30 minutes from Puerto Asis. In order to stall response from police and military units, guerrillas blew up an oil tanker on the road as Angel Pinto was passing through on his motorcycle. He and other travelers were unhurt but were stranded at the site for several hours until authorities could restore order and remove the burning tanker.
By Latin America Correspondent for Morning Star News
Photo: Newly baptized believers in the Putumayo River. (Morning Star News, David Miller)
Violence in North-eastern Nigeria Increasing Again
After an initial lull in violence following the announcement of a state of emergency in three Northern Nigerian states, violence has been increasing over the past few months. Boko Haram attacked a secondary school dormitory in Yobe around 1 a.m. on Sunday. More than 40 students died. Although initial reports indicated that mostly Muslim students had died, Open Doors has learned that there may be some Christian students among them. The attack came just after the government, promising protection. had urged schools in Yobe to re-open after earlier similar attacks. Earlier this month presumed Boko Haram fighters in Borno, Yobe and Maiduguri set up check points and fired at motorists and bystanders.
At least 10 Christians have died in these attacks, including a youth leader of an ECWA church in Maiduguri and a medical student. Open Doors has also received word that a pastor and his son were killed on Thursday night in Yobe. Their church was burned to the ground. One eye witness of Sunday’s attack in Yobe told Reuters, “They started gathering students into groups outside, and then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible.” President Goodluck Jonathan called the attack “the creation of the devil.” It came just a few days after the school re-opened following widespread closures after militants attacked Mamudo School outside Damaturu and killed 29 pupils and a teacher on July 6. Two weeks ago, the state commissioner for education, Mohammmed Lamin, urged all schools to re-open and promised protection from soldiers and police. The renewed violence is creating uncertainty and fear among people,” reported an Open Doors worker. “It is intensifying an already explosive atmosphere as the government continues its battle against Boko Haram.” Nigeria is ranked No. 13 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Colombia – Murdered Priests Buried Amid Community Protests
Father Bernardo Echeverry, 62, and Father Hector Fabio Cabrera, 35, who ministered in San Sebastian Roman Catholic parish, Roldanillo village, Valle department, Colombia, were found murdered late on Sept. 27. Neighbors reported to police having seen two men running from the parish. Investigating officers found the priests’ bodies in the residence they shared near the church. According to police and media reports, two men broke into the residence while the priests were celebrating 8 p.m. Mass and awaited the priests with knives. The murderers fled with offerings, a computer and an iPad. Local authorities convened a security council meeting where Ubeimar Delgado, governor of Valle, linked the double murder to organized crime. General Rodolfo Palomino, national police director, promised that his organization would not allow the snatching of this community’s most sacred members — its spiritual leaders. After the priests’ Monday funeral, Roldanillo residents peacefully marched to demand justice for the murderers.
In Medellín early on Sept. 28, disabled priest Luis Javier Sarrázola Úsuga was found stabbed to death in his residence in Manrique neighborhood. According to media reports, a woman bringing a meal to Sarrázola Úsuga entered his home, and saw an unidentified young man fleeing with a suitcase. The woman and neighbors found his body, which had been stabbed in the chest more than 30 times. Sarrázola Úsuga , 48, operated a charity called by its acronym FUNEPALIS, or Educational Foundation for Peace and Social Freedom, which served the poor in Medellín’s Carambolas neighborhood. Some media reports state that Sarrázola Úsuga was affiliated with the Anglican church. According to the Episcopal Conference, in the last 29 years in Colombia, 84 Roman Catholic priests and two bishops have been murdered. Open Doors Colombia notes that in the last year eight priests have been killed.