CHRISTIAN LIGHT IS FILLING COLOMBIA’S
SPIRITUAL BLACK HOLE
After years of persecuting Christians, Helmer realized he had failed. “The more I persecute them, the more they grow, get stronger, multiply. Then I said, ‘How is this? If I’m trying to wipe them out and they grow more, are fruitful, and make a lot of progress. Then I start to doubt,” Helmer said. Those doubts led Helmer to a personal encounter with the Jesus he was persecuting. Today his weapon is a Bible, and he urges people to follow Christ instead of Karl Marx.”
For five decades, the South American country of Colombia has been at war with Marxist insurgents. Fighting can erupt at any time throughout scattered war zones, but that doesn’t stop an intrepid messenger of peace. For years, missionary Russell Stendal has taken Christian literature to all sides in the conflict: guerrillas, paramilitary, and government soldiers. He has forged friendships with all sides and his radio stations and solar-powered receivers pave the way.
Russell Stendal’s work has been portrayed in a film called “La Montana,” translated “The Mountain.”
See the film (with English subtitles) at http://blogs.cbn.com/globallane/archive/2015/02/20/american-missionary-released.aspx, and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iVducvN9Ss#t=592.
Stendal tries to reach areas where it’s not possible to have church buildings or scheduled church services, and where it’s not possible to do normal missionary or evangelistic work. “And so we drop these radios on guerrilla camps, by parachute. We distribute them to soldiers; we distribute them to paramilitary forces,” Stendal told CBN News. Stendal has given out over 120,000 solar-powered radios. Former journalist Dario Silva has followed the conflict for years. He now pastors House on the Rock Church, one of Bogota’s larger churches, and sends aid to suffering families in rural Colombia.
But Silva said there’s a disconnect between Colombia’s megachurches and the country’s isolated and often persecuted Believers. “Megachurches are often not aware of the problems our brothers are going through.” Silva said that hardship and persecution have not kept the Gospel from reaching the remotest corners of Colombia. In fact, he remembers a guerrilla leader complaining: “Those Christians are the worst problem we have. We arrive at a remote part of the country where there is no electricity, no running water, no roads, or transportation, but there’s always some nut with a black book under his arm preaching about Jesus!”
In the mountains and jungles of southwest Colombia, guerrillas are still destroying churches, driving out Believers, and killing pastors. Open Doors reports that more pastors have been killed in Colombia than in any other democratic nation on earth. The southwest area of Colombia was home to Helmer, a FARC guerrilla commander known as Comandante Geronimo. “When I became a commander in the state of Cauca, I unleashed all that atheism against the people of God,” Helmer explained. “Expelling pastors, closing churches, killing evangelicals because they paid no attention to what we wanted them to do, which was to deny Jesus Christ, to deny God.”
But after years of persecuting Christians, Helmer realized he had failed. “The more I persecute them, the more they grow, get stronger, multiply. Then I said, ‘How is this? If I’m trying to wipe them out and they grow more, are fruitful, and make a lot of progress. Then I start to doubt,” Helmer said. Those doubts led Helmer to a personal encounter with the Jesus he was persecuting. Today his weapon is a Bible, and he urges people to follow Christ instead of Karl Marx.
Source: CBN News
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