Persecution and opposition to Christian is different all over the world. In Colombia, Christians don’t face pressure form extremist Islam or Hinduism, but from communities that hold to traditional indigenous beliefs. Anyone living in these, often rural, areas that choses to follow Jesus can find they are quickly at odds with communities, leaders and guerrilla groups that hold to traditional and ancestral beliefs.
Those who do convert can be kicked out of their community, beaten, arrested, tortured or worse.
Schools in the region are managed by traditional indigenous authorities and they forbid the open practice of Christianity, enforcing children’s involvement in rituals that honour Mother Earth in order to pass their exams. Sadly, this means that Christian children often end up abandoning their education, rather than compromising their faith.
“Children in the area only reach basic primary in school, hence their future is limited,” says Javier Balvuena*, a local Columbian missionary.
Knowing the pressures facing Christian families, and especially their children, Open Doors has been working with local partners to create ‘La Casita’ which means ‘The Little House’. It’s a new home for six Christian boys that provides shelter, food, education and vocational guidance so that they can express their faith in freedom without fear.
Twelve-year-old Julio Preieto*, now living at ‘La Casita’, says, “Since childhood, I have followed the gospel. However, I was told that Christianity was a lie and that I was cheating. But I wanted to continue in the gospel and participate in church… I like to be Christian because faith makes my life better.”
Despite being a Christian project, ‘La Casita’ is recognised by the local educational system. “Christian indigenous leaders are in complete agreement with this project,” says Javier, “and have asked to expand the number of places.”
Currently, ‘La Casita’ houses six boys, but both the need and the vision is for much more. It is expected that next year will see the opening of ‘La Casita’ for girls. The girls in these communities are at high risk of many acts of violence (including sexual violence), abuse and abduction for labour by local guerrillas and groups. Open Doors and its partners are keen to provide an alternative for these girls.
‘La Casita’ offers a new and growing opportunity for children to live their faith out and fulfil God’s purpose for their lives – and this provision is a source of real encouragement to them. “I can devote myself to study and read the Bible,” says Jamie. “It makes me feel at peace. I wish more parents could send their children.”
*Names changed for security reasons
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.