After FARC intelligence reported to its leaders that the man its forces had snatched August 27 at a roadblock near Medellin was a well-respected church leader who had headed a disaster relief program, the guerrilla group acknowledged it made a mistake in detaining him.Nevertheless, freedom came for Evelio García late on September 2 only after he agreed to pay the $2,500 ransom demand from FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)."They don't release anybody without making them pay," said Bonnie Klassen of the Bogota-based Mennonite peace organization Justapaz. As a concession to Garcia's ministry, "They reduced (the ransom) to the minimum amount."Indeed, the ransom demanded for García was so much lower than typical ransoms, church officials wondered whether common delinquents were behind the kidnapping. Regardless, Klassen said the amount still threw church officials into a quandary: Paying any ransom would encourage more kidnappings, but is the principle worth risking a man's life when the amount in question is so relatively small?"It's a very difficult situation," Klassen said. "You have to consider precedent, but also safety."García, his wife and a fellow pastor were traveling in a vehicle from their home in Armenia toward Medellin when armed men stopped the car and took García. They carried him into the mountains as guerrilla intelligence-gatherers checked out the pastor's background using computers and other means. The incident took place in La Pintada, one and one-half hours south of Medellin in northwest Colombia.García is a pastor with the Evangelical Missionary Union, a denomination affiliated with the Gospel Missionary Union. As regional secretary of CEDECOL, the Evangelical Confederation of Colombia, he travels ...

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Colombia: Abducted Pastor Pays His Own Ransom on Installment Plan
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October 23, 2000

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