August 23, 2019
COLOMBIA (INS)—God saved His soul in a dramatic way more than 50 years ago—and since then Vineyard of Colombia founder and leader Luis Guerrero has been serving the Lord faithfully in a mission field with many challenges and dangers. VOC is a Colombia-based partner ministry of Intercede International.
Luis Guerrero was born in 1938. When he was 14, his father was killed by a guerrilla soldier in his native Colombia. He could not wait until he was 21 to join the army and avenge his father’s killers. Exactly at that age he joined the army. Three years later he married Rita, but 15 days after that, he got a special case of epilepsy that landed him in a mental hospital, due to the violent behaviour the sickness produced in him. This was no ordinary epilepsy, where one passes out and then comes to again and resumes a somewhat normal life. Guerrero became aggressive and out of control.
Guerrero’s fellow soldiers put up with his erratic behavior for two years. Then they placed him in a mental hospital for the next 21 months. None of the neurologists could identify the cause for his epilepsy, which had not bothered him as a youth. It just came on him suddenly 15 days after he was married.
While Guerrero was in the sanitarium, his brother Saul and one of his cousins became Christians. They started going to an Assembly of God church in Bogota where a Canadian missionary named David Wormer was in charge. They began reading the Bible and praying, and became convinced that Jesus Christ could heal Guerrero.
So they came to the sanitarium and obtained permission to take Guerrero to a service at the church.
After the message, they took Guerrero to the front of the meeting hall for prayer. When Wormer put his hands on Guerrero’s head to pray, Guerrero felt as though worms were crawling through his body.
People converged around him. Everyone was praying fervently out loud. Guerrero tried to break loose and run away, but the believers held him fast. He tried to strike the pastor, but had no strength.
Surrounded by all these praying people, Guerrero felt as if the worms were exiting his body through his feet. Finally, Guerrero slumped to the floor.
In a moment he opened his eyes. His gaze was normal. The believers helped him to his feet.
“You need to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour,” missionary Wormer said, and he carefully led Guerrero in the sinner’s prayer.
As Guerrero confessed his need and asked Jesus Christ to be Lord of his life, he felt a warm peace envelope him.
“I’m whole! I’m cured!” he cried out.
He did not return to the mental hospital. Instead, the very next day he went straight to the army post where he was assigned and started preaching.
Everyone noticed that Guerrero was in his right mind. His fellow soldiers had put up with this crazy man for two years, bearing with his abnormal speech and conduct. Now they saw him reading the Bible aloud and speaking normally.
The commander walked up to him. “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour?” he asked.
“Yes, I have,” Guerrero declared.
“Good,” he said. “’Keep going to church!”
From that moment on the army headquarters became Guerrero’s training ground. He kept going to the church in Bogota, and everything he learned he came back and preached to his fellow soldiers. A number of them accepted the Lord through his preaching.
While he was allowed to preach to his fellow soldiers inside the camp, as a soldier he was not allowed to preach outside the camp. So Guerrero decided to take his accumulated leave (he had accumulated five months, one for every year he had been in the service), and went on a preaching tour on his own time.
He never went back. By the time he had used up his five months’ leave, his five-year stint in the army was over. He applied for release and was honourably discharged in February 1965.
Heeding the Lord’s call to preach, Guerrero never looked back.
“I dedicated myself to preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in a region in which no one had ever preached,” Guerrero reported to Intercede. “There was no knowledge of the Word of God in those areas where I work. I began with no help from any mission, but God gave me souls as I evangelized the countryside from house to house. That is how the present-day churches started.
“Everywhere I went I shared what the Lord had done in my life,” Guerrero declares. “I preached on the streets and from house to house. My wife enthusiastically joined me, because she saw the miracle of my transformed life.”
One time robbers surrounded him and intended to kill him. Guerrero turned and ran, tripped and fell face forward into the mud. Suddenly he felt a giant hand lift him up over the treetops and set him down far away. When his feet touched the ground, he kept on running. Then he realized he was on the other side of the community of Chaguani.
Reaching Primitive Tribes
Since VOC’s beginning, Guerrero has been drawn to take the Gospel to Colombia’s most primitive peoples. He and co-workers have planted churches among several such tribes, including the Tikuani, Guahivo and Piapoco. Guerrero has taken them food, clothing and medicines.
To reach primitive peoples, VOC missionaries come to villages and begin by going house to house, speaking to the villagers about Christ. In the evenings they hold evangelistic meetings and show films of the life of Jesus, using borrowed equipment. Always, they face the risk of attacks by Communist guerrillas or by thieves.
Guerrero still goes to army outposts and requests permission to preach, a request that is usually granted. In one place, 20 soldiers and one lieutenant raised their hands to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Sharing Pearl of Great Price
Luis Guerrero left everything when he found the Pearl of Great Price in 1964. Since then he has travelled extensively across his native Colombia. He is enduring the damage that riding on motorcycles, bicycles and horses has done to his stomach and abdomen forever.
“My stomach is like a gel,” he told Intercede’s Eliud Herrera in an interview. “There is no cure for it anymore, but I cannot stop. If I do I will die, and I prefer to die on the field, rather than sitting at my home. Many more need to find the Pearl of Great Price, and I am willing to share it with them,” he concluded.
Guerrero still travels often to visit the churches. Some journeys take two months. Though plagued with health problems aggravated by the difficulties of Colombian travel, he continues his fatherly care for these outposts of God’s Kingdom in the midst of great evil and darkness.
“Thanks to the contributions received through Intercede International, we have been able to continue moving forward in our ministry in the countryside of Colombia, preparing workers theologically in order to send them to the most difficult and remote marginal jungle regions,” reports Guerrero. “Our church is in the middle of a difficult crossroads between armed groups, and only the hand of God can take us forward now that danger lurks at every turn. There have been pastors kidnapped, threats against ministry groups, and we are not able to have a large church because the pastors are harassed for money.”
“The calling continues in my heart. All the time God speaks,” Guerrero explained, in interviews with Intercede’s Alan Doerksen a few years ago. “What the Lord has put into my heart is to do what the Lord Jesus did—to go to the small cities nearby, and go deeper into the area where we already are, to reach more people—and prepare leaders for the work, because I cannot do it all myself. Not everybody is willing to take a trip like that and live that kind of life.
“We continue to have the same vision the Lord gave us from the start, but now we are widening our horizons. I am focusing now on training people who will succeed me, and who will continue the work that we have been doing. We are praying for more youth to come to us to train to continue the work that we have started.”
Please pray for Guerrero and his fellow VOC missionaries, as they share their great treasure with needy souls.
Note: This story contains an excerpt from John Lindner’s book God’s Special Agents, published by Christian Aid Mission in 2003, and is used with permission.
Photo: Luis Guerrero (right) and another VOC missionary arrive at a church by motorcycle.