For more than 50 years, Colombia had been at war with itself. In October 2016, after four years of peace talks brokered by Cuba, the Colombian government and the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, brought a peace proposal to Colombia’s voters.
It was a setback for the peace deal and for Russell Stendal, whose years of Christian ministry to rebel leaders helped make the deal possible in the first place.
An American who has lived in Colombia since childhood, Stendal’s Colombia for Christ mission has built dozens of radio transmitters, through which he broadcasts Christian programming into remote pockets of the country that are beyond the reach of the central government’s influence. At the negotiating tables in Havana, some of the FARC’s top commanders could be heard speaking as if they had been regular listeners of the broadcasts. Key leaders of the communist-inspired rebellion had become Christians.
Stendal was kidnapped in the early 1980s by the rebels. He has endured setbacks before. This month in Brazil, he spoke about Colombia’s long road towards peace at the annual meeting of the Religious Liberty Partnership, then sat down with World Watch Monitor for a brief discussion. His edited remarks – accompanied by a rather squeaky chair – can be heard by clicking on the play button on the audio player below.