Rights investigators: pastor murdered because of his preaching and evangelizing
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (BosNewsLife)– An evangelical pastor has been shot and killed by leftist rebels in central Colombia, Christians said Wednesday, October 14.
Pastor Manuel Camacho, of the Worldwide Missionary Movement, was shot six times by one or more fighters of The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) outside his home on September 21 in the municipality of San Jose del Guaviare, Christians said.
The area is known to be a stronghold of FARC, which has been battling the state since 1964.
Pastor Camacho, who in the last eight years led a church with his wife in Chopal village, south of San Jose del Guaviare, was murdered because of his preaching and evangelizing in the town and surrounding areas, according to rights investigators.
“He had received previous threats. In some guerilla-controlled areas, the church is accepted, but in other regions the guerillas continue to attack pastors and Christians and shut down churches,” said Open Doors, a well-informed Christian advocacy and aid group.
Another rights group, the U.S. based Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM), suggested there was anger within FARC that several of its fighters had become Christians. “In April, the pastor was part of an evangelistic event at which three FARC guerrillas and seven members of the paramilitary militia accepted Christ.”
Ahead of the murder, FARC reportedly made an appointment with Pastor Camacho and his family. “He thought they were going to authorize him to have a church officially, which he had discuss[ed] and asked [for] before,” VOM quoted local Christians as saying.
“One of them came in [the house] with the pastor’s wife, Gloria, and his daughter while the pastor was outside. He was shot five times,” apparently in his face.
A FARC fighter who was in the house with the rest of the family allegedly yelled “Make sure that dog stays dead,” referring to the pastor. “The guerrillas then shot the pastor again, this time in the neck. Following the shooting, Pastor Manuel’s wife ran outside and cleaned his face. With the help of her children, she dragged his body under a tree,” VOM said in a statement
“She ran and got her Bible and, shaking with tears, preached to all those who got near,” local Christians reportedly said, apparently speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. “[Her] 10-year-old son said ‘mum, don’t worry, dad died for Christ and now he is with Christ,” VOM contacts were quoted as saying.
The pastor was the latest Christian killed by FARC rebels, who have also threatened to kill more than a dozen church leaders who they described as “government informants.”
Several other Christians are known to have been killed in recent months.
Additionally, the wife and children of pastor William Reyes, who was abducted September last year in Colombia and is still missing, moved from their home to another city this summer due “to threatening strangers” presumably linked to his kidnappers, Christians said.
Critical journalists are also targeted by FARC rebels. This week prominent radio journalist Herbin Hoyos Medina left Colombia for Europe after authorities uncovered a supposed plot to kill him, according to several news reports.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement that it is concerned about the threats against Hoyos and urged authorities ‘to continue to provide protection and ensure that the journalist can return to Colombia and work without fear of reprisal.’
Hoyos, director and host of the morning radio show “Voces del Secuestro” (Voices of the Kidnapped) on national Caracol Radio, told reporters that he was forced to leave a public event in Bogota on Thursday afternoon last week after he received a telephone tip from Colombian authorities that FARC rebels planned to kill him.
The vehicle carrying the journalist’s bodyguards was reportedly hit by an unidentified truck as he was leaving the event. Authorities said the car accident was part of the murder plot. Hoyos, who fled on a motorcycle, was unharmed. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).