Your faithful support and prayers, and that of fellow believers, mean that persecuted Christians in Colombia are increasingly able to call on local Open Doors teams for many kinds of help. Pastor Enrique Machado leads the Open Doors team in Colombia. He wants to share with you what God has been saying to him and his team.
In this honest and challenging interview, he talks about the message God sent to the Colombian team, and how their work has been impacted by Covid-19. (We are not able to share Enrique’s real name, for security reasons.)
Your support helps Enrique, an Open Doors partner in Colombia, serve his community through the Covid-19 crisis
Enrique: At the beginning of the year, the Colombian team held a spiritual retreat where the theme was ‘be still and see the Lord’s salvation’, from Exodus 14:13-14. The invitation that God gave us was to be quiet. Not only in this passage, but also in Psalm 46:10 and at other moments, where God repeats this same text: ‘be still’.
Initially, we thought it was a message for us as individuals. But when the pandemic and lockdown began, we all remembered the word that God gave us at the retreat. As someone from the team said to me: "Pastor, even though you were not aware of what you were sharing, God was already speaking." We realised that the Lord was preparing our hearts for a moment of silence. He invited us to be quiet and we wondered what that meant.
Enrique: We are usually so proactive and on the move. This quietness made us reflect. The pandemic has shown us that, when a man believes he is wise and in control of everything, he has no control over anything. And yet, in the midst of the pandemic, we saw that God continues to work.
I have felt quite restless and desperate this year – but I remember the Lord’s commands: be quiet, see salvation and what He will do for us. There is our hope.
"In the midst of the pandemic, we saw that God continues to work." Enrique
And God works even when we can’t do anything. We saw how work in the region continued, despite our stillness. We realised that this is not our work, but God's. And God is above the circumstances surrounding us.
We were used to seeing Him working in a particular way, and now He's teaching us that we can't put Him in a box, so to speak.
Enrique: What was most difficult was seeing members of the persecuted church being forcibly recruited to control the entry and exit of people in their region. Guerrilla groups, in several different places, were making pastors stand as guards to prevent people from entering the region.
It makes sense, as a public health issue. But it puts pastors in danger – and forces them to illegally detain people. So, when the pastor returns to that area to preach the Bible, he will have lost legitimacy.
Enrique: I hope that, at least, the church is becoming more sensitive to people’s needs. Sadly, the church is often permeated by the ‘prosperity gospel’, where people seek their own benefit. During the pandemic time, we became a little more sensitive.
One of the things we should learn as a church is that we must be more responsive to the problems happening around us. I think the church, somehow, has focused too much on its own members. We were not committed to the big commission. We looked only at our people.
"As a church, we must be more responsive to the problems happening around us." Enrique
What we are living is a global issue. Something that is happening to everyone. It is as if God is shouting to the church: “Look at the world! Look at the context where I have placed My church.”
I believe that the church, the Colombian church in particular, is a church that, for many years, received from outside, without being very committed to its own mission and to the global mission. I believe that God is inviting the church to be more present and to preach the gospel to the world.
You can help ensure the Colombian church is able to stand, with strength and resilience, by praying for and supporting the work of Open Doors in Colombia.
Every £40 could provide Bibles to 10 children who have been impacted by persecution
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.