Children Advocacy | 08 December 2022

Spreading the gospel is the best Christmas gift for Tina


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In the department of Cauca, in Colombia, a large part of the Páez indigenous community lives. These communities are characterized by their witchcraft rituals and practices, as well as their hostility towards those who profess a faith other than their own. Christians in the midst of these communities are deprived of receiving an education, finding employment in the community, and even on several occasions are subjected to mistreatment and are treated as traitors. It is in this region that Tina and her family live, Christians who were persecuted for their faith and suffer as a result.

When we first meet Tina (15), she has her long hair down her back, wears a yellow T-shirt and hides behind her glasses. We are in a house in the mountains and, after a tiring climb, “Tina” welcomes us shyly, but with a smile on her face. Despite being a girl of few words at first, after we meet we see that she is a very kind person who captivates the people around her. But this 15-year-old girl and her shy smile hide a sad story of persecution for being a Christian.


Tina lived in her community with her family: her parents and her siblings, a sister, and a younger brother. However, faced with the persecution they suffered for following Jesus, her parents decided to send her to the Children’s Center, an OD project in Colombia that allows children of persecuted Christians in the country to receive education and spiritual, psychological, and emotional support, as well as being safe from the dangers they face in their communities.

Tina was born in Cauca, and for her this is one of the most beautiful places she knows, full of mountains and rivers. There, in the middle of nature on a small path, was her school. Despite being very cheerful and friendly, she avoided making friends, as she felt that children, as well as adults, sought conflict in minimal situations. Though she tried to keep her family from getting involved in disagreements, they were not long in coming. Not because of her, but because of her faith in Christ.

Her church was the only place where she had real friends and there her father, Francisco, works as a musician, treasurer, and deacon, but his work also expanded into the social area as he tried to create a Christian “cabildo” together with other Christians in the community. “What is a cabildo?” you might ask. These are councils that indigenous communities in Colombia have to represent themselves before the state. They are intermediaries so that they can benefit from all the help the government can offer.

The need for this council arose because Christian parents were dissatisfied with the education their children received at the village school, as the children learned rituals that involved practices that went against the Christian faith. The community council denied Tina, and other Christian children in the area, the possibility to study simply because they were Christians, so several parents decided to get together to request the opening of a school that did not instruct this type of practice. Being denied their request, many continued to educate their children at home. It was in the midst of this situation that Tina's family discovered the Children's Center, thanks to a Christian teacher who also lived in that community and who had sent some of her children to study and live there.

Tina's parents


The separation from her family

After talking as a family, Francisco and Luz - Tina's mother - decided to ask for help and send their daughter to the Children's Center. Tina had to travel for more than 15 hours to finally receive an education with Christian principles - as well as spiritual and emotional support - without risk to her safety.

Although at first it was difficult to leave the family and the change was radical, Tina enjoys her time at the Children's Center: “I was kind of sad, because I missed them, but now I don't want to leave here anymore. I felt that I had no freedom where I lived, and I always wanted to get out of there”. Even when we asked if she would like to return home, she said: “Well, maybe I will visit, but no, I don't want to stay there”.

During the four years she was at the Children's Center, her life was radically transformed. For her, being there saved her life in many ways: I don't know if it would exist if I still lived there, or I'd be lost. Maybe I would have taken the easy ways out, as a quick fix.” Leaving home not only kept her from being recruited by the guerrillas, but it also motivated her walk with Christ and to developed artistic skills she didn't know about.

But, something she says emphatically is that, with the support of OD donors, she was able to undergo surgery for a heart condition that affected her health and put her life at risk. Despite missing her family, Tina recognizes that this is God's plan for her life: "Well, I've always understood that everything in this life has a purpose...", she said.

Of course, she misses her family a lot, and especially her sister Miriam, with whom she has a greater affinity, since living in the Children's Center implies a long time of separation in the family. That's why Christmas becomes a time of reunion with loved ones.


“For me, the best Christmas is when I'm with my family”

Despite having a mid-year break, the lack of resources, the risks, and the long journey back to her community all prevent Tina from seeing her family more than once a year. All this time she lives with the anxiety that her father is not in prison for being a Christian, and that her sister has not been recruited by the guerrillas, or even raped by the people who threatened her family.

Tina and her sister, Mirriam

Christmas brings you the peace of mind of seeing your family safe and sound. For Tina, this is a time to spend time with her loved ones before starting a new school year and heading back to the children's center. “For me, the best Christmas is when I'm with my family”, she says. Christmas is a time to return to her local church and enjoy worshiping, fasting and praising God together.

Describing what the best Christmas would be like for her, without hesitation, she told us, "My wish is that they (her family) know God, because most of my family on my mother's side are not Christians." Of course, we were surprised. She did not crave toys, nor clothes, nor any material things. Instead, her gaze was fixed on the treasures of heaven, where neither moths nor rust corrode, nor thieves break in to steal.

In a few years, Tina will finish high school and her desire is to study art, because one day one of the tutors at the Children's Center saw her drawings and encouraged her to continue developing this talent. Tina now longs for “her drawings to speak for themselves”. She dreams of traveling and meeting many people to share what she has experienced and to be able to help others by spreading the gospel.

In the meantime, she continues studying, sharing with other children who are going through situations similar to hers or even worse. But she remains firm, without losing hope. Tina sends a last message to those who, like her, suffer persecution: “For those people who are being persecuted, I would tell them not to leave their faith. If they are still here, it's because God has a purpose for them, even though we don't see it immediately. God is going to give an understanding of His purposes.”

please pray

Pray for her future. She wants to graduate, work, and in doing so help her family and other persecuted Christians. May God keep her heart and mind on Him, so that she will not be discouraged. - Pray for her parents and siblings. May God protect them in their community and strengthen their faith amid the struggle they face daily. - Pray for her family to be converted to Jesus Christ. - Pray for her region. May God transform the heart of those who persecute Christians.

Give Today
Today, if you are able, will you give hope to persecuted children this Christmas? 

Every PHP 2,950 provides a month’s education to two children impacted by persecution.

Every PHP 3,950 supports a child at the Colombia Children’s Centre, giving safety, education and a future.

Every PHP 5,370 gives Bibles to ten children, so they can know Jesus through Scripture.

Thank you very much and may the Lord richly bless you.