Reported by Russell and Marina Stendal
Implementation of the Peace Accord has been slow and filled with obstacles. The FARC guerrillas finally arrived at the stipulated sites where they were to turn over their weapons only to be told that the United Nations was not ready to receive them. Also, little or no preparation had been made by the government even to provide potable water or basic sanitary facilities at these sites scattered over the length and breadth of this nation. The necessary laws for the Peace Accord have been delayed in Congress (even though a “fast track” legislative process was authorized by the Supreme Court) and therefore many of the actors of the armed factions still face significant legal uncertainty.
In the meantime, a smorgasbord of actors, including diverse criminal bands, right wing paramilitary groups, dissident FARC leaders, and even a rival guerrilla group, the ELN, have been scrambling to fill the vacuum left by the FARC and consolidate control over the lucrative cocaine and heroin traffic. Corruption abounds at virtually all levels of government punctuated by a recent scandal involving a Brazilian firm that allegedly paid extensive bribes to key officials in both the past and present administrations in exchange for lucrative road and infrastructure contracts that were also in partnership with many of the top Colombian firms tainting virtually everyone among the ruling political class.
A NEW ARMY FOR THE GOSPEL
In the midst of all the apparent confusion, God has His hand on a growing number of individuals. We have continued implementing our program of Clean Water and a Pure Message with excellent results. Converted rebels have been ministering in the guerrilla camps using Bibles, radios and literature as we have also provided water treatment plants.
Those of you who saw the movie, La Montaña, might remember the young guerrilla named Christian, who was shot in the stomach and saved by Dr. Fernando almost fifteen years ago. Well, we just found him in a camp and it turns out he has become a real Christian and now has a ministry distributing Bibles and providing clean water.
Other cases like this are surfacing where many guerrillas, paramilitary and soldiers who have been in prison have found the Lord and are now due to be released as the amnesty and transitional justice laws are approved by Congress and go into effect. Over the years, we have licensed many prison chaplains, placed hundreds of thousands of books and Bibles into prisons and beamed special radio programs to prisoners. Now we are beginning to grasp the magnitude of what God has been quietly doing in the prisons, as quite a number of formerly difficult characters have been converted and discipled over a long period of time. These men and women may soon be released back into society. Pray that they will continue to stand for the Lord with a good testimony.