Thursday, March 22   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Is the sexual exploitation of women an issue in your city?




The difficult path to peace in Colombia

The agreement between the government and the FARC is celebrated by many, but also criticised. Evangelicals have divergent views but are willing to get involved in the reconciliation process and to work for lasting peace.

SOURCES Protestante Digital, Evangelical Focus AUTHOR Daniel Hofkamp TRANSLATOR Belén Díaz BOGOTÁ 31 AUGUST 2016 15:19 h GMT+1
Colombian society asks for peace.

The peace agreement signed in Havana by the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and the main guerrilla group, the FARC, puts an end to an armed conflict that has lasted over 50 years and has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Therefore, it is not strange to see a diversity of reactions caused by the announcememt. Despite the joy of many, who understand this step as a way to end a conflict - which, however, would remain with other guerrilla groups like the ELN - there is also some disappointment with the terms of the agreement.

This sentimental and rational polarization can be seen in politics, in the positions of President Santos and his predecessor Alvaro Uribe, the most visible opponent of the process; and it is also present in society. Lawyer and expert on the conflict Almudena Bernabeu explained it in an article for newspaper El Mundo: "The closer we come to the final signing of the peace, the Colombian society will become more polarized."

Leading the opposition is Uribe´s party, the Democratic Front, which is asking for the "No" in the upcoming referendum to be held on October 3, where the people will express their views on the agreement signed by Juan Manuel Santos.

"We are not against peace, the question cannot be whether or not we want peace, or include the word peace, that is not in question. We disagree with the contents", said Uribe, knowing that they start from a difficult position, in a country where the latest polls show that 65-70% of Colombians would support the agreement at this point.


Santos and Timochenko after the signing of the agreement in Havana.



In general, evangelical Christians have expressed their joy for the progress of the peace talks. But they have also highlighted aspects of the agreements they considered worrisome.

"I feel optimistic, but also see ambiguity and challenge", explains to Protestante Digital Jeferson Rodriguez, coordinator of the Latin American Theological Fraternity in Bogotá. "It's a new beginning for Colombia, hoping to have a new time without the weapons absolutely defining everything in our country", adds Rodriguez. He organised a university congress in October to address the theme of reconciliation from a Christian perspective.

The President of the Evangelical Confederation of Colombia, Edgar Castaño Diaz, is less enthusiastic. Castaño encourages Christians to "participate" in the referendum, "accompanying the decision with prayer, study, knowledge on the subject, always looking for information that enables us to vote consciously."

In the statement released last Friday, he made it clear that "peace is characteristic of the nature of the Christian church. This should lead us to differentiate between peace and endorsing the Havana agreements. We invite you to consider this difference and vote what the Spirit inspires you to be the best decision for the welfare of our nation."

According to Michael Gowen, an expert in international politics, "things in Colombia are generally not as clear as it seems", pointing out that the path to peace will be difficult: “There are a host of tantalisingly difficult issues to resolve. Where will the demobilised fighters live? Will they all be put together in one community, a strategy which has proved disastrous in the past?"



Gowen continues, "Will ordinary people tolerate them coming to live in their communities, especially if they suspect that they have killed their friends or family members? (…) Who will receive an amnesty and who will be tried in court? How will families find out the truth about the disappearance of their loved ones?”

These are some of the questions that the Colombian society is asking these days. For Jeferson Rodriguez, evangelicals are not and cannot be oblivious to it and should take an active role, "not just with political proselytism, or being worried about having political leaders in power positions."


Peace demonstration in Bogota



Traditionally, evangelicals have been less active in social or political issues than the Catholic Church, except for some minority denominations such as the Mennonites, Lutherans or the Reformed churches.

However, the development of the peace negotiations are opening new approaches. "I was pleasantly surprised to know that the Assemblies of God in Colombia will organize a commission for reconciliation and peace issues, which will be representative before the government and the insurgency in all matters relating to the peace talks. These are important steps", said Rodríguez.

But not only social distance is an obstacle: “We - Christians- are the ones who should be setting the agenda, through prayer and selfless service”, says Gowen, “but there are a number of factors which seriously limit the effectiveness of the church in Colombia. Probably the biggest is the lack of unity which is evident in many parts of the country. I meet many Colombian Christians who long for greater unity in the body of Christ in their country; but it must be the church leaders, the pastors, the priests, the bishops who take the lead in this. Thank God that some are; but there is a long way to go.”

It is in this uncertain and difficult path, where evangelicals can be peacemakers, Rodriguez stresses that "our experiences of reconciliation in churches are experiences we can use to assist in post-conflict areas."

Among the challenges listed by Jeferson Rodriguez, would be "contributing with our presence, our knowledge, our thoughts and our local initiatives seeking peace with the ELN", which would be necessary to finish the armed conflict definitely.

Gowen warns that in these processes is easy to fall "into cynicism or despair". “How easy it is to look at the ceasefire agreement and say, ‘We’ve seen it all before. Nothing will come of it.’ Maybe. But surely we, as Christians, are called to be bearers of hope.”




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - The difficult path to peace in Colombia
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

A marriage story A marriage story

The  great love story for everyone.

Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.