I was born in a small town in the emerald zone of Colombia. At 14 years old, I left home for the fever of emerald mining. From then on, I was involved with cruel men who were the owners and masters of the emeralds. I grew up in a ruthless world and it was not long before I learned the art of violence; something I came to passionately practice. At 15, I already had a serious criminal record. My life became lost in a violent path with no return. When I was 22, I found the person who would be the mother of my two sons. During this time, I was never a father to my sons. The world blinded my priorities. No one had ever spoken to me about JESUS. For us, (the emerald miners), our protection was “the virgin of Chiquinquira”. After enduring 10 long years, my wife left me. I didn’t care much. Pretty women were my weakness, and there was always one by my side.
It was in the mines that my cousins died. It was my fault because I brought them there despite the fact that they were farmers who had clean hearts. My heart of stone couldn’t see the truth. I had two gods: my boss, (a k-bloodthirsty man who approved all of my dirty deeds) and my gun with seven clips. I only trusted them. I never went to jail; although I deserved it, and today I understand that it was GOD’S infinite mercy. That is how my years passed in such a violent world.
Ten years ago my mother and sister, “converted” into evangelicals. It offended me immensely when they would try to persuade me to repent. I was already 37 years old and my life was absolutely lost in darkness. My sister, who is a nurse, worked in a hospital in Bogota. She met a Jewish man who had converted to Christianity. One day this man told her; “I know a gringo (an American) who preaches a different Gospel. He says that we don’t belong to a title or a doctrine, but that our real covering is the HOLY SPIRIT and not any man. He says our real pastor is the LORD JESUS and no one else.” My sister was so touched by this that she went to hear the gringo preach.
I was hiding and in a terrible predicament. My mom sat in the living room and cried. In the midst of her weeping she said, “You already destroyed your family! You got your cousins killed! They are going to kill your brothers! You are a monster! If you want to go lower than this, you can’t, because you’ve reached the bottom.” She said this to me on a Sunday at 7:00 a.m.I didn’t want to see my mother cry anymore so I decided to go with her to meet the gringo.
That day changed the story of my life…the message spoken by Russell was as if the gringo, could see right through me, as if he knew all the wrong I had committed. Every single word punctured my heart. I went and told him a little about myself and for some reason he invited me to his house without even knowing me. This was more than 9 years ago. He gave me 20 boxes full of Bibles and solar powered radios. My mother told me, “Go to Muzo (the emerald town), and start evangelizing.” I responded, “Mom, I haven’t even opened a Bible.” That night I had a dream. A strong light spoke to me and said, “Don’t ask Russell how you will do it, ask the LORD.”
I went to my farm and spent 30 days reading the Bible and listening to the messages from the Galcom radios. I dared not go out because I knew that my enemies were going to kill me. Every single day the messages of the little radio spoke to me about repentance and the death to the old man. Suddenly after 15 days of listening, I began to comprehend the messages, and they began to reach my heart. I also began to understand that the LORD was speaking to me through the Bible. After 30 days of this, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and got on my knees and prayed, “LORD, do you think that today is the day?” I opened my Bible to a chapter I had never read before and it said, “See that I command thee to be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for I, the LORD thy God am with thee wherever thou goest.” I understood in that moment that the LORD had kept me during all those violent years for a wonderful work. I learned about numbers afterwards in Russell’s preaching. He explained the significance of numbers in the Bible. I later comprehended why I had been locked in for 30 days; the LORD began his ministry when he was 30 and David began to reign in Israel when he was 30.
Near the mine there is a huge plaza where more than 300 people unite, including emerald buyers, merchants, and tourists. Even though I knew a man was pursuing to kill me, I filled my car with Bibles and radios and drove to the plaza. I said, “LORD, give me the spirit of courage and don’t let me be a coward.” I had prepared a message, but when I arrived in the midst of so many people, I forgot what I had to say. The first person I saw was my enemy. So I got on top of a huge rock and I screamed with great force, “GOD can make something dirty into something clean!” Obviously everyone turned to look at me. One lady, who I knew was a Christian, helped me hand out the Bibles and radios while I spoke. I said loudly; “I am a Christian!” Everyone knew that I had been hiding as a result of my enemies. Then I said; “I know there is someone here who wants my life. I am not armed. All I have is my Bible and the LORD in my heart. If someone wants to take my life it will be because the LORD allowed it to be so. I ask for forgiveness to everyone whom I offended, to everyone I humiliated, to everyone who suffered violence through my hands.” Then I got on my knees and as I was weeping I said to everyone; “Forgive me.” I began to speak while my sister handed out Bibles and radios. Not a single person left without a Bible and a Galcom radio. To this day, I don’t remember what I said, but when I finished speaking I received an applause that lasted more than three minutes. I asked my sister what I had said and she responded; “Very beautiful things.” Also I asked her how long I had spoken for and she said; “I think 40 minutes.” I later understood that the number 40 had to do with testing. Moses fled for 40 years after he killed the Egyptian. There were 40 days and 40 nights of rain. The people of God were 40 years in the desert, etc.
The man who wanted to kill me approached me and I thought, “LORD if today is the day, forgive my sins.”
And I felt afraid for the first time in my life. The man came to me and said, “I am not the man who is going to kill you. I forgive you. My mother heard what you said through the cell phone and says that she forgives you.” Today, they are a Christian family.
The LORD has taken me to share His Word in many regions of this country. I lost count a long time ago of all the thousands of radios and Bibles I’ve handed out in this wonderful work. No return exists for me today; my destiny is to preach the cross and the death of the old man. I have taken this Gospel of the Kingdom to pastors, apostles, Indians, bandits, mountain people and this is what I’ll do until the day the LORD picks me up.
Note from Russell Stendal:
God has been raising up key men and women like Ever who
are fearlessly reaching into the remote and violent corners of Colombia.
We have put in new radio transmitters and held
massive meetings in the emerald mining district. Now Ever and his pastor
friends are concentrating on the Venezuela-Colombia border, which has the
reputation of being one of the most dangerous borders in the world. We have
started by showing the movie, La Montaña, to large audiences and are following
up with as much literature and Bibles as we can get our hands on. A key radio
station is also in the works. Thank you for partnering with us. Keep praying!
Thank you for standing with us and for your prayers and support during these vital days.
We believe the power of your prayers will continue to equip people and expand God’s kingdom in Colombia and beyond.