Armed men have captured a prominent Colombian pastor who operates a string of Christian radio stations around Colombia.

Bogota's "El Tiempo" daily newspaper reported that Jorge Enrique Gomez Montealegre, pastor of Bethesda Missionary Center in Bogota, was kidnapped February 14 from his country estate in Apulo some 25 miles southwest of the capital. Gomez operates the evangelical Authentic Radio, which has stations in Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Cartagena and other Colombian cities.

Several bands of common criminals and brigades of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and are active in the area where Gomez was kidnapped, the newspaper reported. Evangelical leaders told Compass they believe criminals snatched Gomez with the intent of selling him to the FARC, who would then demand a ransom.

The crime occurred at 11 a.m. when a dozen men arrived at Gomez' estate and forced Gomez into one of their cars. "Unknown armed men arrived asking for him," his wife Melida de Gomez told "El Tiempo." "He said, 'I am he,' and they left with him."

Gomez is well known in Colombia because of his radio ministry. He has held open-air campaigns and filled soccer stadiums for peace and prayer rallies.

Missionary Maria Perez, who has known Gomez for years, said that he has a burden to reach guerrillas with the gospel. "He prayed and fasted a lot for the peace of Colombia and that the guerrillas find Jesus Christ in their lives," she said.

Gomez' daughter told "El Tiempo" that she believes her father was kidnapped because God wanted it that way. "He calls things as he sees them," she said. "Whomever has him will have to listen to him because he'll be giving a sermon, even when he's asleep."

Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today's earlier coverage of Colombian kidnappings includes:

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)