In Colombia, some pastors spoke of the challenges of evangelization, in the face of the risks posed by the pandemic and the threat of armed groups.
Currently, pastors and the Open Door Mission shared about the risks they and other Christian leaders in Colombia take in bringing supplies and Bibles into the country.
Every day Pastor Leandro Holguín travels the streets of Colombia’s cities and towns, bringing food packages, face masks, antibacterial gel and Bibles to believers and non-believers alike.
Holguín has been a facilitator of Open Door programs in Colombia for the past 10 years.
Situation in areas of evangelism
The pastor commented on the situation in the areas where he operates (his location must be kept secret for his safety and that of others).
“We have been able to bring food to many people. Those who cannot work are very depressed and face serious financial difficulties. We pray for them and with them. We offer them pastoral guidance and share the Word of God with each of them,” said the pastor.
“Many people have given themselves to Jesus,” Leandro added about evangelization in times of pandemic. “This brings me great joy.
Evangelical leaders can mobilize in the quarantine
In the face of extreme need, the Colombian government agreed to allow church leaders to move freely during the quarantine to bring aid to people in need, mainly those in remote areas of the country. However, with each visit, the pastor and other church leaders are in danger.
In areas such as Tumaco on the Pacific coast and in territories of the Amazon and Catatumbo on the border with Venezuela, these community leaders are at risk not only of contagion but also of attacks by the illegal armed groups that control these areas.
Despite the risks they face, pastors and other church volunteers have decided to go every day, usually on dangerous rural roads, to reach the most remote and vulnerable communities.
“We are taking advantage of the government decree that allows us to move forward during the quarantine,” said Holguin.
Communities in extreme need
People in these remote areas controlled by rebel groups live in extreme need and fear. They are afraid of getting sick with Coronavirus and losing their lives at the hands of these groups if they contract the virus.
Pastor Amanda Santander has been evangelizing in the Catatumbo region in the northeast of the country for over 20 years. For half that time, she has been involved with Open Door programs in Colombia.
“The pandemic brings a new set of challenges,” she says. “People not only fear the control imposed by these illegal groups, but they also fear being infected by the coronavirus and then killed by the rebels,” she added.
Open Doors has developed a program called “Agape in your house” to facilitate the situation of many Colombian believers during the pandemic.
The program provides food and pastoral support to 300 families living in remote areas of the nation, where Christians are suffering relentless persecution and harassment.