COLOMBIA — Christmas is likely to look different for all of us this year. Some of us will be celebrating the birth of Jesus without our friends and family closest to us. You may have even lost somebody you love this year, and this will be your first Christmas without them.
Daniela from Colombia is only 12, and she already knows how it feels to lose somebody close to her. In August 2019, her father, Plinio, was murdered because of his faith.
Plinio was a pastor in La Caucana. It’s a dangerous part of Colombia. But Plinio knew that it was part of his ministry to his community to speak out against organised crime and help prevent young people being recruited.
Partners of Christian charity Open Doors were able to take Daniela, her brother Sebastián and her mother Alba to a children’s centre. They could have a break, safe from danger and away from sadness and isolation, finding comfort and joy as they celebrated Christmas with other believers.
What do you and your family do to celebrate Christmas?
Daniela: “We get together and cook a meal to celebrate.”
What do you like most about Christmas?
Daniela: “Being with my family.”
This Christmas many of us won’t see our families. Daniela knows she won’t see her dad, Pastor Plinio.
But because of persecution, not the pandemic.
Alba, Daniel’s mother: “It was normal, like any other day. We woke up with our normal plans in mind to work and go to church. It was hot as always and the streets were empty. There had already been some fights between rival gangs. All was normal around the house. The children were playing. The others and I were preparing the chicken. My husband was watching television.”
Suddenly there was two gunshots.
In Colombia drug gangs violently oppose church leaders like Plinio who preach Jesus’ message of hope and love. He was murdered as he sat watching the news.
Alba: “I always say that God blessed us with the best person. It is difficult. I was used to having him always with me at dawn and when the sun went down. Now when I wake up and I ask myself ‘And now what?’ It is very hard for both of my children. My daughter is less expressive. She cries a little, but doesn’t talk about her feelings.
In 2019 thanks to your support, Daniela and her family travelled across Colombia to the children’s centre. There they could meet safely with other Christians to celebrate Christmas and the start processing their grief.
Daniela: “I was so surprised to see all of them singing a welcome to us. It made me feel so good. I was really happy to be surrounded by so many loving people.”
The centre provides short-term respite to children like Daniela, as well as long-term shelter for many vulnerable Christian children.
Daniela: “I am very grateful to know that Christmas there are people around the world praying for me and my family. I see that God works through these prayers.”
About Open Doors UK
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training, and resources to those facing persecution or discrimination.
Resources that they provide include distributing Bibles and literature, running leadership training, assisting with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief aid, livelihood support, and community development projects.
Their vision is of a world in which every Christian who is persecuted is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.
- Global News Alliance, Comfort and joy for Daniela at Christmas in Colombia
- Open Doors UK, Official Website