In my recent visit to Colombia, the Lord opened my eyes to faithful unsung heroes of the Christian witness who endured the past few decades of war and persecution. I met Native American mature believers from the Kogi, Guambiano and Paez tribes.
The Kogi tribe population is about 20,000, yet some of the Kogi Christians I met told me there are currently 274 Christian believers. All of them have been kicked out of the tribe and only a few courageous Kogi believers have discreetly moved back into the tribal land and are being a witness for Christ.
During the week, I observed a beautiful anniversary celebration of the Stendal family commemorating 50 years of missionary work with the Kogi tribe. Which included the accomplishment of translating God's Word into the Kogi language. Pat Stendal, Russell's mother, shared with me they have established 12 schools among the Kogi people. Religion classes are required which teaches Christianity. Pat, who is 83 years young, smiled with joy as she told me that generally, the Kogi have been very hard-hearted and stubborn, but the Word of God is being planted in the next generation of tribal people at these schools. Please pray with us for the opportunity of Russell, who is presently working with Pat and some of the Kogi, to set up a radio station for outreach among the Kogi people.
We visited Guambiano Christians in the state of Cauca, Colombia. This state today has one of the highest productions of cocaine, high violence, taking hostages for ransom and vibrant drug cartels. In the midst of all this trouble, God has placed his humble witnesses among the Guambianos. A radio station was established a few years ago from the Colombian staff. Last year, Russell upgraded the station and an antenna was installed on a high mountain so that the FM signal now reaches the whole state of Cauca. The Guambiano Christian in charge of the radio station shared they advertise a cell phone number for Colombians to call and ask for prayers or give testimonies. The staff writes the content of these calls into notebooks. So many Colombians have called in since the beginning of the station and now there is a four-foot tall stack of notebooks. Pray for the radio broadcast to continue to transform lives in this volatile state.
The Paez tribe also has a significant representation in the state of Cauca. The Lord highlighted two Paez Christian refugee camps to Russell in the past few years. The Paez Christians fled their tribal land after years of abuse, which include exclusion of education for their children, discrimination in tribal services and resources. Some have endured threats and have been beaten. The Latin America work has included the help of rebuilding two communities for these persecuted Christians. The most recent project is the El Tablón resettlement community. The witness of these Paez Christians is that they love one another and have a clean heart. In one Paez village, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of an installed radio station. The radio station ran by this group of Paez has become so popular among the 7,500 homes in their valley that the pastor who runs the station was voted vice-governor of their community. This valley is an area where the FARC guerrillas controlled only two years ago.
For years, persecution from the FARC guerrillas was highlighted in much of the media and news reports. Behind the sensational persecution was the faithful witness of tribal Indians in the midst of severe trials and tribulations. They are continuing to grow and mature even through suffering to become powerful agents of change and witnesses of Christ in this region. Please pray with us for the continued funds needed to support the radio stations, programing, maintenance and kingdom needs of the tribal Christians. Thank you for your continued support and prayer as we partner with the tribal Christians in Colombia who are courageously reaching their kindred for Christ.
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