Twenty-five evangelical pastors have been murdered in the past six months in Colombia, allegedly by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), according to Hector Pardo, pastor of Faith Tabernacle, one of Bogota's largest congregations.
In addition, Pardo says guerrillas have forced some 300 evangelical churches to close. Since 1995, around 50 pastors have been murdered in Colombia (CT, May 18, 1998, p. 40). Two Pentecostal pastors were abducted and killed in August. A military official said they were murdered after protesting FARC attempts to recruit minors. In the past, both guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary gangs have targeted clergy who denounce political violence.
"Most of the Christians killed in recent times have not been murdered for their faith," says Nick Woodbury, a former missionary in Colombia now serving with Christ for Miami. "Many were perceived to be associated with either the guerrillas or the paramilitary groups, and thus were targeted by the other side."
Evangelical participation in Colombia's growing peace movement follows failed at tempts by President Andres Pastrana to open negotiations with guerrillas who have been waging war for more than 40 years. An average of five people a day are kidnapped by guerrillas to finance their insurgence. In May, National Liberation Army guerrillas abducted more than 100 worshipers at a Catholic church in Cali (CT, July 12, 1999, p. 23). At least 40 of that group are still being held.
With violence in Colombia worsening, evangelicals have joined with others in forming a new national peace group, the Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace.
Harold Segura, rector of the Baptist Seminary in Cali, told 2,000 people who met in the first assembly meeting that "peace is a fruit of justice."
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