Mélida Gómez, the pastor's wife, said that their family has no plans to leave their homeland now that her husband is free. "We want Colombia to be known as a country where the power of the Spirit of God is moving," said Mélida.
Her husband plans to continue as pastor of Bogota's 18,000-member Bethesda Missionary Center. He is also part-owner of Authentic Radio, a chain of eight Christian radio stations in Colombia. Since his release, the pastor's life has been a flurry of church services and media interviews, Mélida said.
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's (FARC) 42nd Front announced at 5 a.m. on August 10 that it planned to free Gómez in the country's southeastern mountain zone in Cundinamarca, the province where he was kidnapped on February 14.
Bogota's El Tiempo newspaper reported that he walked almost two hours down a mountain where he had been held.
When asked why her husband was kidnapped, she said, "He moves multitudes of people, and his is one of the biggest churches in Colombia. [The FARC] believed he was very rich in money, but as he told the press, he's rich in faith and powerful in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gomez family told El Tiempo that no ransom was paid for his release.
"They can talk and ask [for ransom], but we explained the work of the mission, we prayed and we clamored to God with the people," Mélida said."The things of the Lord have their own time, their own purpose. The Bible says all things work together for good for those who believe in the Lord, and nothing deters the will of God. It was a time of growth and maturity for the church."
El Tiempo reported that Gómez was shackled for the first two months of his captivity by a chain and stick. At night, the rebels would give him a tarp, a blanket and a little tent. Gómez told the newspaper that his captors moved him to at least 10 locations in the mountains during the six months they held him. During the captivity he lost 44 pounds, but the kidnappers always treated him respectfully.
FARC guerrillas captured Gómez on February 14 from his El Peñón horse farm in Cundinamarca. Mélida insisted that the family, consisting of seven children, isn't worried that FARC will target her husband again.
"[FARC] can't control the great work that the Lord is doing in Colombia," she said. "We'll keep working with greater intensity. Now we're stronger and greater in number in the Lord."
Copyright © 2001 Compass Direct.
For more Colombia news, see Yahoo's full coverage.
CNN's Columbia: War Without End looks at the violence gripping the country.
A Colombia profile was prepared under the Country Studies/Area Handbook program of the U.S. Department of the Army.
Christianity Today's earlier coverage of Colombian kidnappings includes:
Fate of Kidnapped Colombian Pastor Still Unknown | FARC suspected, but so far there has been no word from Montealegre's abductors. (March 13, 2001)
Another Prominent Pastor Kidnapped in Colombia | Family believes kidnapping is God's will so that Montealegre can witness to his abductors.
Break in Missionary Kidnapping Case | Captured Colombian guerilla may hold key to U.S. missionaries' fate. (Dec. 4, 2000)
Plan for Peace in Colombia Is a Plan 'For Death,' Say Church Activists | Will U.S. military assistance in destroying coca fields only increase violence? (Aug. 15, 2000)
Death in the Night | Colombia's pastors endure extortion, kidnappings, and threats as they plant churches and help the poor in a war zone. (June 6, 2000)
Colombia's Bleeding Church | Despite the murders of 120 church leaders, Christians are fighting for peace in one of the world's most violent nations. (May 18, 1998)
Fate of Kidnapped Missionaries Still Unresolved | Colombia remains thought to end questions are not human after all. (Mar. 29, 2000)
Twenty-five Pastors Killed This Year (Oct. 4, 1999)
Christians Held As Hostages (July 12, 1999)