In September 2009, Manuel Camacho and his wife Gloria Isabel Hernández, were pastors of a church in Guaviare, Colombia when they were approached by a commander of the FARC, one of the armed rebel groups in Colombia. The commander threatened them for preaching the gospel and demanded a large sum of money from their congregation. The congregation made the difficult decision to give into the guerrilla’s request, but was only able to raise half the money. While the FARC commander accepted the reduced payment, he refused to authorize Manuel and Gloria’s request that they be allowed to continue their evangelical campaign in the local communities. A few days later members of the FARC came to the house and shot Manuel in the presence of his wife and children.
Sadly, Manuel’s murder is not an isolated event. In Colombia, Christian leaders are frequently targeted by warring guerrilla and paramilitary groups involved in the country’s deadly internal conflict. Threatened, displaced, and even killed, members of the church in Colombia face persecution for leading people to Christ. The Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action (Justapaz) has documented numerous stories like that of Manuel and his family in their report, A Prophetic Call 5: Colombian Protestant Churches Document their Suffering and their Hope. U.S. assistance to Colombia is mainly in the form of military aid, which fuels the conflict rather than bringing peace.
Colombian churches are calling on congregations in the United States to stand with them in solidarity and to call for a just U.S. policy towards Colombia. Join churches across the country in this year’s Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia to raise awareness, pray, and take action for peace. For more information, please visit washington.mcc.org/days.