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Alicia Castilla
Photo: Open Doors

On January 7th, 2013, as a local pastor concluded an evening devotional in the home of widow Alicia Castilla, guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) forcefully entered and opened fire with pistols. Alicia was instantly killed in front of her three children and her elderly father. This tragedy follows the previous shooting of her husband, lay evangelist Nelson Ramos, who was murdered in January of 2011, also at the hands of the ELN.

Alicia's late husband, Nelson, who had come to faith in Christ two years before his death, often shared the Gospel in Saravena, a border town near Colombia's frontier with Venezuela. A few months after his conversion, the ELN issued its first expulsion order against him and his family. As done in the recent incident, assassins entered the family's home and shot the evangelist as his wife and two small daughters helplessly watched.

Founded in 1964, the ELN is one of several illegal armed groups fighting for control of the rich petroleum resources along Colombia's eastern-central border with Venezuela. These violent groups forcibly recruit children into their ranks, and persecute those who oppose them, namely the church. (For more about the country of Colombia and the challenges Christians face there, go to the Colombia Country Report.) Yet, despite their belief that Christians are "brainwashed" by the Bible, "they also notice that when Christians fast and pray, the guerrillas' violent plans...are oddly stopped!" states an Open Doors representative who oversees ministry in the Arauca area.

Please pray for the protection and healing of the surviving traumatized children: 18-year-old Hernán and his little sisters Rosmy and Jackeline, ages 9 and 6, who now face life without both parents. Also remember Alicia's father who was present at the recent January shooting. May they all be surrounded by God's love through caring family and friends, especially the members of the Christian community. We are reminded that God's salvation is extended to anyone who willingly receives it, including the members of the ELN who clearly need His touch upon their lives.

Current Ministry Project

VOMC’s provisions have proven to be a vitally needed means of help and encouragement for a group of expelled Christians who are rebuilding their lives in a new community. In addition to helping them establish a secure means of sustainability and livelihood, the ministry is supporting their efforts to present the Gospel from their new community – seizing this opportunity as a means of outreach to Colombians residing in surrounding areas.

Project Fund: Relief and Development

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
50,355,650 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Mestizo and white (87.6), Afro-Colombian (including mulatto) (6.8), Amerindian (4.3)

Religion (%)
Christianity (92.3), other (1), unspecified (6.7)

Leader
President Ivan Duque Marquez (2018)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system
Civil law system influenced by the Spanish and French civil codes

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Colombia

Please uphold all those in Colombia who’ve been victimized through acts of violence, asking the Lord to meet their needs, heal them of their brokenness, and bring about renewed hope and restoration. Also intercede for their persecutors so that they, too, will witness the love of Christ and experience His forgiveness and salvation.

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