Latin America

Bibles for Guns: Encountering Colombia’s Communist Guerrillas

Every morning, as he left home, Helman Ocampo told his wife, Rosalba, “I love you.” Neither knew if he would return alive.

Communist guerrillas were killing, kidnapping, and displacing thousands of people in Colombia, South America. Helman had been training missionaries to spread the Gospel among the isolated jungle tribes. The guerrillas, wary of the missionaries’ growing influence, had already killed 40 of them.

Regardless, Helman felt compelled by God to press forward and tell more people about Jesus, knowing he might lose his life in the process.

One morning Helman quietly made his way through the tangled vegetation toward one elusive tribe’s possible location. At a bend in the trail, he came upon a group of guerrillas hiding in the undergrowth. They seized him and tied him up with ropes, shouting obscenities in his face.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m on my way to the villagers to tell them about my amazing God.”

“And what God is that?”

“His name is Jesus.”

“Since you now know our hiding place, we will have to kill you.”

The leader of the group held a gun against Helman’s temple. Helman braced himself, praying to his heavenly Father and waiting for the gun to go off. 

Click. The gun did not work. The man tried again. Click.

Frustrated, he threw the gun on the ground. Then he stomped over to retrieve it, pointed it toward the ground, and pulled the trigger again.

Boom! Everyone jumped.

The same thing happened again, with three other guns. Click when pointed at Helman, and boom! when pointed at the ground. Smoke and dirt filled the air, but Helman was unharmed.

“Who did you say this God was?”

“Jesus.”

“Tell us about him.”

Helman was untied, and they all sat in a circle. Then tension was still high: when Helman reached over to pull his Bible from his backpack, the men tackled him.

“Wait! wait!” he called. “I have a powerful book I want to show you.”

All afternoon Helman shared Jesus’ miracles from the Word and answered their questions. The men relaxed. Real fellowship took place.

Then Helman said, “I have many of these powerful books. I was taking them to the village, but I will give them to you if you will give me your guns.”

“Oh yes! Your God is more powerful than our guns.”

Helman walked away that afternoon with all of their weapons and ammunition.

In their four decades of work, God has used Helman and Rosalba and their co-workers to bring 3,500 guerrillas to the saving knowledge of Christ.

Learn more about God’s work in Colombia through the Ocampos’ ministry, Christ to the Unreached Tribes

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