Unstoppable in Colombia

When Carlo Perez* was 14 years old, terrorists killed his father. Perez, determined to avenge his father's death, joined the army at age 21. At age 24, he married his wife, Rita. Only days later, he was diagnosed with epilepsy and hospitalized because of aggressive behavior. Perez's miraculous healing, after a pastor prayed over him, was the seed that bore his unshakable faith and dynamic ministry.

"I was unstoppable," he said.

Today, after 40 years of jungle ministry, Perez continues to persevere. As the director of a large and growing Colombian ministry, he immerses himself in the training of native ministry leaders. Every six months, Perez holds training seminars for eager, future church-planters.

Perez's ministry operates on the eastern side of Colombia, mainly dominated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC is the oldest, largest and best-equipped insurgent force in the country. It controls approximately 40 percent of the country, and finances itself through kidnapping ransoms, extortion and the drug trade.

Many parents send their children to big cities, where there is less chance the guerrillas will recruit them. Perez's ministry has strategically planted churches in these cities, which provide food, clothing and shelter to those who have come to escape the FARC. His ministry workers also teach a skill or trade to the youth to enable them to earn a living.

Perez's ministry leaders are unable to take an offering, as members of the FARC would confiscate the funds. The financial assistance received from Christian Aid has therefore been an invaluable resource to the ministry. A Christian Aid field scout discovered the ministry in 1987.

Perez is now heading toward the finish line of his faithful race; however, he is not doing so timidly. On the contrary, even after receiving surgery for six hernias, Perez continues his brave journeys through jungles and rivers via motorcycle and canoe to remote regions in Colombia.

*Name changed to protect identity.