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Colombian Pastor vanishes


Pastor William Reyes


October 10, 2008
Updated: October 14, 2008
Justapaz: Center for Justice, Peace and Non-violent Action (Centro Cristiano para justicia, paz y acción noviolenta)

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — On Thursday, September 25, at 10 AM Pastor William Reyes left Valledupar, Cesar, for his home in Maicao, La Guajira in northern Colombia. He never arrived. Reyes is associated with Justapaz, a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada's partner, Mennonite Church of Colombia (IMCOL).

IMCOL embraces the challenge of teaching people to trust God and live peacefully in a society where political violence and armed conflict has become engrained in the culture over the past 50 years.

Reyes ministers in the Light and Truth Church (Interamerican denomination) of Maicao and is a member of the Fraternity of Evangelical Pastors of Maicao (Fraternidad de Ministros Evangélicos de Maicao – FRAME) – which has received repeated threats from the paramilitary, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and other illegal armed groups since March of this year. Pastor Reyes’ wife, Idia Miranda, is the FRAME secretary. Pastor Reyes and Idia have three children, William Reyes Miranda, 19, Luz Mery Reyes Miranda, 16, and Estefania Reyes Miranda, 9.

On Saturday, October 4, several thousand people marched in Maicao to ask for Reye’s release. Idia Miranda reportedly said that her husband’s wallet appeared in their church after the march, indicating, perhaps, that he was close by.

As of October 10 no group had claimed responsibility for Reye’s disappearance, but there are fears that he has been kidnapped. Various reports state that prior to his disappearance, Reyes had intervened in a motorcycle theft, after which he received several threats on his cell phone. He also received a text-message warning from an unidentified previous church-member who stated that two men had been paid to harm Reyes.

Human rights violations of church people and of the civilian population at large are ongoing in Colombia. Last year the Justapaz, Peace Commission Documentation and Advocacy program registered the murder of four pastors and 22 additional homicides of lay leaders and church members.