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Hostage Pastor Released Unharmed in Colombia

Friday, August 17, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags:

by Deann Alford}
August 17, 2001
AUSTIN, Texas, August 16 (Compass) -- Colombian pastor Enrique Gómez was released unharmed on August 11 after being held hostage for six months by Colombian guerrillas.

Mélida Gómez, the pastor's wife, said that the family has no plans to leave their homeland now that her husband is free. "We want Colombia to be known as a country where the power of the Spirit of God is moving," said Mrs. Gómez.

Her husband plans to continue as pastor of Bogota's 18,000-member Bethesda Missionary Center and part-owner of Authentic Radio, a chain of eight Christian radio stations in Colombia. "We'll never leave the country. Here we have a special work, a huge work for Colombia."

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's (FARC) 42nd Front announced at 5 a.m. on August 10 that it planned to free Gómez in the country's southeastern mountain zone in Cundinamarca, the province where he was kidnapped on February 14. Bogota's "El Tiempo" newspaper reported that he walked almost two hours down a mountain where he had been held. Some tarped trucks picked him up and then left him at the side of a highway where he met his family.

Since his release, the pastor's life has been a flurry of church services and media interviews, Mrs. Gómez said. He was not immediately available to talk to Compass.

When asked why her husband was kidnapped, she said, "He moves multitudes of people, and his is one of the biggest churches in Colombia. [The FARC] believed he was very rich in money, but as he told the press, he's rich in faith and powerful in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"He has radio stations that proclaim the gospel 24 hours a day, but that doesn't mean he's rich [materially]." The Gomez family told "El Tiempo" that no ransom was paid for his release.

When asked about how much ransom the FARC had demanded for Gómez, Mrs. Gómez said, "They can talk and ask [for ransom], but we explained the work of the mission, we prayed and we clamored to God with the people. The things of the Lord have their own time, their own purpose. The Bible says all things work together for good for those who believe in the Lord, and nothing deters the will of God. It was a time of growth and maturity for the church."

"El Tiempo" reported that Gómez was shackled for the first two months of his captivity by a chain and stick. To sleep, the rebels gave him a tarp, a blanket and a little tent. Gómez told the newspaper that his captors moved him to at least 10 locations in the mountains during the six months they held him and that he had lost 44 pounds, but that they always treated him respectfully.

"I'm very happy because God kept my health and helped me to get here," Gómez told his church on Sunday, August 12, according to "El Tiempo."

FARC guerrillas captured Gómez on February 14 from his El Peñón horse farm in Cundinamarca.

Mrs. Gómez insisted that the family, consisting of seven children, isn't worried that FARC will target her husband again.

"[FARC] can't control the great work that the Lord is doing in Colombia," she said. "We'll keep working with greater intensity. This united the church with other missions and denominations in Colombia. Now we're stronger and greater in number in the Lord."

"El Tiempo" reported that the pastor is planning an August 20 rally of thanksgiving for his release.

Copyright 2001, Compass News Direct. Used with Permission.

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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Hostage Pastor Released Unharmed in Colombia