Last Thursday night, two Pentecostal pastors were assassinated in the village of El Dorado; it appears that the 17th Brigade of the leftist guerrilla group, FARC, is responsible.

According to the local authorities, Pastors Humberto Mendez, age 63, and Pastor Joel Cruz Garcia, age 27, were approached at around 8:00 pm as they preached at an open-air service by a group of armed men wearing camouflage clothing. The armed men called them by name and led them away. Their bodies were found the next day 40 metres apart; both had been shot in the head.

Both men leave a wife and children behind; Pastor Cruz’s only child, a daughter is only a few months old. Pastor Mendez was the founder of the Prince of Peace Mission and was planning to return to the city of Ibague in just a few months, after completing his work in the countryside. He had been active in prison ministry for a number of years and was planning to return to this work.

While authorities and church leaders seem to agree that FARC committed the murders, the motive remains unclear. According to some reports it was in response to the participation of local churches in nationwide protests against terrorism and kidnapping. Church representatives in the area, however, point to the risks that accompany preaching and teaching Christian principles in a region with a significant guerrilla presence. According to church leaders at the local and national levels, FARC has declared protestant pastors to be legitimate military targets. The families of the pastors have said that they never received any warnings or threats from any group.

Voice of the Martyrs