The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC guerrilla movement) began in 1964 as the military branch of the Colombian Communist Party. From its inception, FARC carried out violent attacks not only against those it perceived as supporting the Colombian government, but also against the nation’s electricity towers, roads and bridges. It has financed itself through kidnappings, extortion, illegal mining, cocoa cultivation, cocaine production and narcotic trafficking. Throughout its 52 years of violence – the world’s longest continuous war, in which some 260,000 people lost their lives and many were displaced – the communist guerrilla movement shuttered and razed churches, murdered pastors, extorted congregations, kidnapped missionaries and church leaders and forcibly conscripted church youth into its ranks. But in the last 10 years, with the Cold War long over, with the Colombian armed forces beginning to inflict serious setbacks on the FARC guerrillas, together with the gradual death of the group’s oldguard leaders, a new openness to dialogue began to emerge, eventually leading to a peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and FARC in September 2016.
However, voters rejected this accord in a national referendum in October, due to the leniency with which such serious crimes were treated, sending negotiators back to Havana. In exchange for FARC laying down their arms, the modified accord made it explicit that those who confessed to serious crimes would not face jail but may have their liberty restricted to areas no larger than a hamlet for five to eight years, and a post-FARC political party will be given 10 automatic congressional seats between 2018 and 2026. This new agreement was subsequently ratified by the Colombian Congress in a November vote. But what has not been widely reported is the role played by Russ Stendhal, the son of Christian missionaries, who lived in areas controlled by FARC for 32 years and whose work was instrumental in the change of heart seen in many of the group’s leaders.
Source: World Watch Monitor; Revival Media
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
SEPTEMBER Praise God that Colombia has finally seen an end to its 52-year-old conflict, and for the change of heart on both sides.
PRAY for lasting peace and God’s Truth to prevail and for a willingness to forgive.