“The peace agreements between the government and Colombia’s largest rebel group are just talk,” “Milena” told me emphatically.
Milena and her husband raised their family in a house in a rural part of Colombia. Though Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels watched their every move, Milena and her husband faithfully participated a nearby evangelical church. Each week, it would take them half a day to get to their small 50-member church. Taking a canoe was usually the best way to get there as there is no road access. With five children, the trip was not easy.
The family’s love of the Lord was no secret. While selling food and other items in the town market, Milena recalled someone asking her if she was a Christian. Without hesitation, she replied that she was. “Well,” he replied, “I’m going to wait for you on your way back to your house, and I will kill you and throw your body in the river.”
Thankfully, the man didn’t act on his vicious words.
Over the last 50 years, the extremely violent FARC group is believed to have killed more than 200,000 people. There is no exact number on how many of these civilians were murdered for their faith, but FARC specifically targets those who refuse to participate in the drug trade or take up arms to help their Marxist cause, which includes Christians acting on their convictions. They also target Christians because they might inform the army or other rebel groups of their location and activities. One commander told his soldiers, “You must hit Christians hard.”
FARC soldiers did hit Milena’s family hard. Not long after she was threatened in the market, Milena’s husband was murdered. A year later, in 2001, her 25-year-old son went missing. “They disappeared him.” Milena explains, meaning that he was kidnapped and killed as are young people who refused to join the FARC.
The grieving widow fled with her four other children to a larger city where she lived with relatives. They helped her for several years, but the cost of living made it difficult to make ends meet. After a few years in the city, the family moved to a small village that was more affordable.
Within a few months of moving back, FARC rebels were trying to recruit her sons, now all young adults. The young men loved the Lord and followed in their father’s footsteps by serving in the church.
In September 2014, Milena’s two oldest sons were murdered, presumably by the FARC. With a trembling voice she told me, “I prayed a lot, and one day God told me, ‘Do not cry for your sons because they are with me in heaven.’ That’s what consoled me.”
Since 2012, Colombia’s government has been working on a peace agreement with the FARC. However, this woman who lost so much at the hands of the FARC doesn’t put much value in peace between men. Her peace is in Christ.
“We know the solution is Christ, it is the only one,” she says.
“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.