Latin America Prayer UpdateWritten By Russell Stendal
This started out helping 50 families of Paez Naza Indians who had been severely persecuted and forced to leave the tribal lands.
The seed money to obtain the land (17 acres aprox.) was donated by VOM Finland. Jon Dufendach, from Alaska who recently visited the project to install the water system is praying that the Lord will give the Indians additional land (he thinks they really need 700 acres). This initial property, however, was enough land to build the village and for each family to have a garden plot.
There were many additional costs as the 50 families were moved to the new property. They were able to build their 50 homes, church, school, warehouse for Bibles and materials. We helped them with a generator, power lines and electrical installation, with water, with building materials and medical supplies.
On October 31st we moved the first 350 people to the new property and over the past several months the Indians have taken in many additional persecuted believers. And as I write this there are another 90 or so families under such intense persecution that they are about to be forced out of the tribal lands.
When the new people come in some are normally in very poor condition and need medical help. We have had a doctor and a nurse making periodic trips and the cost of medicine, etc. has been substantial.
The Paez Indians are the largest Indian tribe in Colombia. The Naza subgroup is noted for being fierce and difficult (the guerrilla movement started among them and then spread all over Colombia). The tribal leaders who believe in their native religion still use torture machines that they copied from the Spanish Inquisition against anyone they do not like including Evangelical Christians. Many of the Indians at the Greatness of God project have horrible scars from being in the stocks and from being put in a machine that literally pulls their arms and legs out.
When the Naza become Christians they are some of the most tenacious and capable Christians we have ever seen. They persevere in Evangelism and do not give up. There are now over 80,000 Christian Naza among over half a million that are not converted. With this project we have just uncovered the tip of the iceberg regarding the need of the Indians that are being persecuted.
The larger picture in that in the four Southwestern Colombian Departments (like States) of Narino, Cauca, Valle del Cauca and Huila there are close to 400,000 believers that have come forth among 3.5 million non Christians who are opposing the Christians with every form of opposition. Because these areas are so violent and sensitive (some are Indian reserves where Indian law, not Colombian law prevails) we are finding out new things every day. The Indians are very close mouthed and do not trust foreigners so it takes a while to win their confidence. I had been traveling through the mountains for years before I found out many of the details regarding the persecution and torture of Christians that is routinely going on.
The outstanding things that caught our attention regarding these 50 core families of persecuted Paez Naza Indians is 1) The quality of their faith under so much adversity. Even the little children are solidly converted. The entire group focuses all of their resources on evangelism and are extremely successful (this is why they are being persecuted). 2) The location of this project is such that we were able to obtain security from the Colombian Army so that we could bring in teams of foreigners to help (this is impossible due to the the security problems at most locations).
In mid July the Indians are planning a major get together and 15,000 people have been invited to the property for three days of meetings. I will be the main speaker and have been asked to bring four more speakers in addition to myself.
We just finished a major water purification system that is capable of providing clean drinking water for the 15,000 people that are expected to show up.
The magnitude of what is happening is stunning. The Gospel is going forward as never before but the persecution is also increasing. At this time it is impossible for us to know exactly how many church buildings have been destroyed, how many homes of believers have been burned or dismantled, how many have been tortured or killed. But it looks like the numbers are very, very high. In fact, it is almost unbelievable that something like this could be going on in our present day and age and none of the human rights groups seem interested in picking up on this.
Yet when we ask the Indians what is the greatest need they almost always say that they need more Bibles. We hear reports of remote churches that are struggling under extreme opposition and only the Pastor has a Bible. The Indians built a big warehouse to store materials and they are praying for lots of Bibles.
The first answer to their prayers came when the David Cooke company printed 3.5 million copies of their Story of Jesus graphic children’s bible story booklet and gave them to us for distribution. We are placing many of them into this SW corner of Colombia where there is such an intense and high quality revival going on.
There are also tremendous opportunities for the Gospel along the Colombia – Venezuela border and throughout this entire country in all the places where there is unrest and persecution. Thank you for partnering with us in this significant time in history. Keep praying as we feel your prayers and many lives are being transformed.
If you would like to join us in serving the martyrs around the world, please feel free to contact us at contact@SpiritofMartyrdom.com