Alberto*, who had been raised to believe in God in Colombia, borrowed a motorcycle with the idea of ramming it into oncoming traffic to kill himself.
By then he was a young man who had moved away from his family. That way, they could not hinder him from carousing with the new friends who had led him to alcohol and drug addiction, said a native missionary who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Alberto is just one face of Colombia’s growing internal market for drug users. While Colombia has a long record as an exporter of illicit drugs, drug use within the country has grown exponentially in the past 10 years, according to a study this year by 10 Colombian Non-Governmental Organizations called Actions for Change.
Criminal groups have found the drug market within Colombia increasingly attractive because it carries less risk than international trafficking, notes Insight Crime, a foundation that monitors organized crime in Latin America. The Department of National Planning reports that Colombia now has the fourth highest consumption rate of cocaine and marijuana in South America.
Unable to lose himself in illicit drugs or hard liquor, mounting the motorcycle seemed like the next best option.
Alberto’s choices had led him to the edge of a dangerous pit of despair. When he became seriously ill and his friends refused to help him, taking pains to avoid him, he fell into that pit. Alberto sank into a deep depression, the native missionary said.
He was also out of money, having spent it all on binges of drinking and drugs. Unable to lose himself in illicit drugs or hard liquor, mounting the motorcycle seemed like the next best option.
“Every time he saw a vehicle, he drove facing the other vehicle to hit the front of it,” the area missionary said. “He made many attempts to hit other vehicles, but every time he missed.”
A turning point came when Alberto failed to hit a large tractor, he said.
“The driver shouted at him that he should not do this to solve any problems he had, but that he should never forget that there is a God who loved him and was willing to help him in everything,” he said. “Those words made him break down in sobs, and he remembered the God that he heard about as a child.”
A Christian discipled at the native missionary’s church later visited Alberto at his home and invited him to attend a worship service.
“Alberto heard the gospel, and he opened his heart to Jesus and committed his life to Him,” the native missionary said. “Now, after a close discipleship, the Lord has filled him with joy and hope for the future in Him. Alberto is now helping our local missionary to do evangelism at open-air meetings, where he shares how the Lord transformed his life.”
Other native missionaries act as key connectors for the transformative power of Christ. A gospel worker in another area of Colombia began to teach villagers that there was an all-powerful God who could work miracles – without charging them money the way the local witchdoctor did. When the tribal sorcerer saw that villagers were being healed by prayer to Christ and were no longer coming to him, he conjured up a spell to destroy the missionary.
“But none of the things he tried worked for him,” the leader of the native ministry said. “For that reason, one day he approached our missionary to get to know that God who had more power than what he practiced.”
Today the one-time witchdoctor joins the native gospel worker in outreaches to other villages, helping to teach the Bible.
“He speaks about who he was in the past and what he used to do, sharing that God is the truth and more powerful than everything,” the leader said.
Holding Bible and theology trainings, native missionaries equip tribal believers and others to further expand God’s kingdom throughout Colombia.
“In order to attend this Bible training, everyone makes a great effort to come as they cross trails, muddy roads, water, using horses, bicycles, motorcycles, canoes, cars and buses,” the leader said. “Some take two or three days on the road with the sole purpose of acquiring new knowledge and strategies to continue performing with excellence the work of our good God.”
Native missionaries throughout Latin America conduct such trainings as they push into more territories for gospel outreaches and discipleship work. Please consider a donation today to help them bring Christ’s love to lost souls.
*Name changed for security reasons