Making Disciples Where Bombs Fall

Making Disciples Where Bombs Fall

David, Maria and their three sons have grown accustomed to guerrilla violence since moving to the Colombian town of Arauquita in 2005 to lead a church. 

david and maria's family worship
David and his family have served sacrificially in a violent area for more than 16 years.

Shortly after the family moved to Arauquita, a town of more than 40,000 people, David and Maria learned how dangerous their new home was. As their 9-year-old son returned from a shopping errand for his mother, two stray bullets from guerrilla gunfire struck him in the neck, and one of the bullets missed a major artery by only 1 millimeter. Now fully recovered, the boy helps lead worship at one of the churches with his two brothers. 

david and maria's son scar
David and Maria’s son was hit by a guerrilla’s stray gunfire when he was only 9 years old.

The family has also received anonymous threats. A few years ago, someone slipped a note under their front door warning that they would be killed if they didn’t leave within 24 hours. David said he will never forget how his wife’s face turned pale when she picked up the note and read it. 

The couple never learned who put the note under their door, but they understand that as preachers of the gospel they are not particularly welcome in the rebel-controlled area. They decided to continue their work in the town despite the threats, and last year they faced a new level of danger. 

A Rattled Church

In early 2021, two guerrilla groups engaged in battle near the Arauca River, which forms the border between Arauquita, Colombia, and La Victoria, Venezuela, a town of 10,000 people. 

Venezuela’s military has allegedly supported one of the guerrilla groups, dropping bombs on enemy locations. And some of the explosions have literally rattled David and Maria’s church. 

You hear the bombs every night, the gunfire every night,” Maria said. “You are in the service preaching and the building shakes because of the bombs.” Confirming his wife’s report, David shared cellphone videos with audible gunfire and explosions in the background. 

David then shared video of a shelter that his church provided for some of the 5,000 Venezuelans who have been displaced by the conflict. The video showed a large open area dotted with tents, where David said many of the families had been living since the conflict began in March 2021. In the video, David can be heard sharing the love of Christ with those displaced by the fighting. 

It has been a good way to share the gospel,” he said, smiling. “We have been able to give glory to God because I have seen God back me up, taking care of us every moment in all situations.” 

While explaining their work, David received a video message from another leader in the church. “We are worried here and we are trusting in the Lord,” the church leader said. “There are troops landing, tanks landing and everything is starting to get a little more tense. It feels like war is eminent, like inevitable.” 

maria and david
Maria sometimes feels alone in their ministry. But at a recent pastor's conference, she was strengthened by meeting other couples who minister in the red zones.

Returning to Work

After a much-needed respite at a VOM-sponsored pastor’s conference in Colombia, David and Maria said they were ready to return to their kingdom work. 

David said, “My satisfaction is when people come to the Lord. To see families restored, to see young people put their weapons down, that fills me with satisfaction.” 

Although he knows continuing his work means a return to the chaos, David said he could never think of leaving his church and his work. “Everything has to do with the calling of the Lord and knowing that it’s God’s will,” he said. “I see it every day in how He backs me up. God called me to that place.” 

maria and david served the kids ministry
When a group of displaced Venezuelans arrived in town in March 2021, David and Maria’s church served them by sharing food and the love of Christ.