Rocio Pino and her husband James had already gone to bed for the night on March 6, 2011 when they heard an unexpected knock on the front door of their home. Though they lived in one of Colombia’s dangerous “Red Zones”—areas controlled by the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC—the Pinos were known for their Christian hospitality, and they quickly responded to the knock.
“Two men were at the door,” says Voice of the Martyrs Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “James recognized the men as FARC soldiers who had arrived in the community two weeks previously. James had made friendly small talk with them on several occasions. Now they asked for his help with engine problems they were having with their motorcycle.”
Representative Foley says that James walked out to the motorcycle in front of the house with one of the men, while the other stayed by the door with Rocio. “The man asked her, ‘Is your name Maria?’ She replied, ‘No, I’m Rocio Pino.’ The man then shot her three times.” Representative Foley says that while James attended to his wife, the attackers jumped on their motorcycle and sped away.
The Red Zones of Colombia where Rocio Pino was martyred are controlled by the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
“The road to the Pinos’ village had been heavily mined and was guarded by FARC guerrillas, so no emergency services could respond to help her,” says Representative Foley. “Rocio’s husband and children were left to watch Rocio die.”
According to Representative Foley, James later learned that Rocio’s murder had been in retaliation for her evangelism of a young female FARC guerrilla fighter a few weeks earlier. “The woman had stopped by Rocio’s house, and Rocio shared the gospel with her. She told the young woman, ‘The Lord is waiting for you’ and gave her a New Testament. That encounter drew the attention of the local FARC leaders, who then sent the assassins to the Pinos’ home.”
“Rocio Pino was known for sharing the gospel wherever she went,” says Representative Foley. “She and her husband chose to live with their children and share the gospel in a dangerous area of Colombia because they took Jesus’ Great Commission seriously. Though it cost Rocio her life, her Christian witness amid communist oppression and violence was worthy of Christ and advanced His kingdom.”
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea and its Voice of the Martyrs sister missions around the world are honoring Rocio Pino on June 29, the Day of the Christian Martyr. “According to church tradition, June 29 marks the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul, so Christians around the world take time that week to honor the legacy of those who have sacrificed their lives for the advancement of the gospel.” Representative Foley says that to commemorate Pino’s martyrdom, Voice of the Martyrs Koreas has added a plaque about Pino to its Martyrs Timeline. A video about Pino’s life and martyrdom can be seen at https://vomkorea.com/en/dotcm/.
In memory of Pino, Voice of the Martyrs Korea is also designating all donations to its Families of Martyrs fund through July 31 to support martyrs’ families in Colombia and to partner with Christians in their evangelistic work in the FARC-controlled areas.
“Honoring Rocio Pino is especially appropriate on the Day of the Christian Martyr because it reminds us that most martyrs are not pastors, missionaries, or famous people,” says Representative Foley. “Like Rocio, they are simply ordinary Christian men and women who maintain a faithful witness to Christ in the homes and neighborhoods where they live. Rocio was known for saying, ‘All who come here will hear about Christ’. She lost her life keeping that promise, so we know she will find it unto eternal life.”
Representative Foley says James Pino and his daughters relocated to a safer area after Rocio’s death. “James struggles with forgiving those who killed his wife,” says Representative Foley. “He says that the scars on his heart are permanent. But he continues to work toward forgiveness, and an important part of the Day of the Christian Martyr is praying for the survivors, that they may forgive and also find the peace and the strength in Christ to go on.”
Previous honorees on the Day of the Christian martyr include North Korean underground Christian Cha Deok Sun who was martyred between 2005-2010, and the so-called “unknown martyrs of communism”: Christians who died under communist rule from 1921 to the present, which Voice of the Martyrs Korea and other analysts estimate to be between 25 to 30 million people. “It is no coincidence that all of our recent honorees were martyred at the hands of communists,” says Representative Foley. “Communism is not dead, and it continues to attack Christians today in the five remaining communist countries—China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Laos—as well as in communist-controlled areas, like the Red Zones of Colombia where Rocio was killed by the FARC.”
Representative Foley says that those who are interested in making a donation in honor of Rocio Pino to support families of Colombia martyrs and the evangelistic outreach of Christians in Colombia’s Red Zones can give through the end of July to the ministry’s Families of Martyrs and Prisoners fund. Donations can be made online at www.vomkorea.com/en/donation or via electronic transfer to:
국민은행 (KB Bank) 463501-01-243303
예금주 (Account holder): (사)순교자의소리
Please include the phrase “FOM” on the donation (for “Families of Martyrs”).