June 23rd was an historic day in Colombia. After four years of peace talks, and more than 50 years of armed confrontation, a bilateral ceasefire was agreed upon between the Colombian government and representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerrilla group founded in 1964 that is currently operating with 15,700 members.
The reaction of the church is divided. On one hand, its long-suffering members are skeptical about the promises of peace and reconciliation by the government and the guerrillas. A female church leader, who requests anonymity, states that "the persecution against the church has grown through criminal gangs, indigenous leaders and other guerrilla groups."
On the other hand, leaders and representatives of the urban church have reacted more positively to the proposals. Even so, about 30 pastors from different regions of the country are concerned about getting involved in the verification processes of the points agreed upon as it could bring them added problems. One Christian leader who was displaced by the FARC explains:
"In rural areas, we are vulnerable, and any information we report to the government will be used against us. The guerrillas will have access to official information with the powers...given to them in the post-conflict. We were trained to forgive, not to denounce. Our role will be to welcome those who demobilize, and to be peacemakers as we have always been."
There is more acceptance of the peace agreement in cities where people in the streets are expressing excitement. "This is the answer to the prayers of many churches, vigils and intercession that for many years we have done -- so that the war ends in Colombia," states Rolando, a representative of Christ for the City Church in the capital of Bogota. To learn more about the country of Colombia, and the crucial role of the church, go to this page.
Please join us in praying for the manifestation of "true peace" within the nation of Colombia -- beginning in the hearts of the people. May the peace of God flow throughout the land, halting the schemes of those with intent to pose further violence and harm. May the country's pastoral leaders and the members of their churches, especially those serving in vulnerable areas, be free to preach the Word of the Lord with boldness and to worship Him without the threat of opposition. May God continue the good work that He has begun in the nation of Colombia by not only providing peace and protection to its citizens, but also by leading many more who are in desperate need of salvation to the "Prince of Peace."