The Unseen Children of the Persecuted Church
Sofia is from Colombia. She was orphaned at a young age, when she was just nine. It is now ten years since that fateful day when both her parents were shot dead for boldly speaking up for the Gospel.
Sofia tells us that she uses her story to tell others, that for those who love God, all things work together for good. She encourages many by helping them understand, “We do not have to turn away from God because of difficult circumstances.”
She is wise beyond her years, and she doesn’t talk about God working through hardships lightly.
Her father, Jose Rodriguez, and her mother, Emilse Maria del Carmen, had been members of the National Liberation Army, an illegal armed group. However, when they decided to follow Jesus and leave this violent group, this angered the militants.
A few years after leaving the National Liberation Army, when both of Sofia’s parents had become pastors, they were shot. Sofia’s father was shot six times, and her mother was shot eight times. They both died in hospital shortly after the attack.
At first, Sofia couldn’t understand why God had allowed this to happen. “Isn’t God supposed to listen to our prayers? Why didn’t He answer our prayers?” she asked.
Thanks to the long-term support and prayers of her global church family, Sofia was able to come and live in the Children’s Centre run by Open Doors, where she could receive an education, counselling and love.
She says, “In my first days at the centre, I felt a great emptiness in my heart and so much pain. But here, I felt free.
“This place had a huge impact in my life. It was a very special help. I know that if I had not come here, my life out there would be completely different.”
With time, Sofia was able to forgive the men who killed her parents, and understand that, despite everything she has been through, God still has a purpose for her life. “That purpose is that I could share with other people about God’s love amid the circumstances,” she says.
“That experience taught me to have more trust in God. Now I understand that many things can happen to me and that He is always with me. He is my Father. I’m so happy to say that I believe in Him!”
- That God will continue to provide for Sofia, strengthen her faith, and use her to share God’s love with others
- For comfort for other children who have been bullied, attacked or orphaned because their families’ follow Jesus
- That God will continue to use Open Doors to bring vital support and hope to persecuted children and their families.
Facts about Colombia
Colombia is number 47 on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Large parts of the country are controlled by criminal organizations, drug cartels and paramilitary groups. Christians are seen as a threat to the activities of these organizations as they represent an alternative way to behave in society. Church services are monitored and Christians who speak out against these groups are targeted.
**representative image used.