|Population||50 220 000|
|Christian Population||47 706 000 (95.0%)|
In Colombia, a largely Christian country, persecution is localized—and violent. Church leaders are threatened, harassed, extorted and even murdered as a result of the violence perpetrated by guerrillas and other criminal groups, especially in the country’s more remote areas. In most cases, this violence is the direct result of Christians denouncing corruption and violence, working for the defence of human and environmental rights, serving among youth, and pursuing peace and justice—all endangering the illegal activities of the criminal groups. Christians are seen as impediments to the forced recruitment of people, especially youth, to rebel groups and to the drug trade and organized crime that pay for these groups.
In indigenous communities, significant opposition exists toward Christian missionaries and indigenous converts, who can face imprisonment, physical abuse and the confiscation of property, among other forms of punishment.
In addition, there seems to be an increasing intolerance for Christians in the public sphere and an emphasis on secularism over and above a pluralistic society that values all voices, including Christians. Christians can be wrongly seen as bigots or discriminatory, and opposition to historical Christian beliefs has been violent at times.
Meet Pastor Alberto*
“One day, I received a note from one of these [criminal] gangs saying that if I didn’t cooperate with their ‘cause,’ then I shouldn’t be in this town. They also said that all young people must be part of their groups.”
*Name changed for security reasons
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Colombia?
Guerrilla groups in Colombia are known to recruit Christian Colombian children. For this reason, the Open Doors Children’s Centre was established in Colombia as a place to protect children whose families have been threatened or displaced, and for those who are at risk of being recruited.
Open Doors also supports Christians in indigenous communities with training and with the setting up of Christian education for indigenous children. Open Doors strengthens the persecuted Church in Colombia further by developing and delivering Bible materials and bringing emergency aid.