A family wonderfully transformed – and you played a massive role. Abnober is from Colombia. When he got involved with the wrong crowd as a youngster, his parents sent him to the Open Doors Children’s Centre. Little did they know that this one decision would change the whole family.
At just 12 years old, Abnober – who grew up in a broken home where his father was a heavy drinker – got involved with the wrong crowd. Drugs and alcohol became his comfort.
Whilst his mother believed in God, she didn’t practise her faith for fear of persecution. The family were part of a tribe where refusal to participate in traditional festivals and activities makes you a ‘traitor’ who will bring bad luck. Preaching is prohibited and threats to close or burn churches are constant.
Despite their distant approach to Christianity, Abnober’s parents decided to send him to the Colombia Children’s Centre, a school and home run with your support. He was 14 at the time and still involved with the wrong crowd.
Dramatic change in Abnober sparks family transformation
It led to a swift and extraordinary transformation. “This place is a great blessing,” Abnober shares. “Since I arrived, I’ve learned many things. The education in my community is not as good as it is here. I learned systems, how to work as a team, and I met people who love God. It made me grow more in the knowledge of the gospel and in my spiritual life. It’s like my second home.”
When he returned home for a holiday after a year away, people saw a different Abnober. “They saw the change,” he recalls. “After one year, I was a very different person. The community recognised that I had changed a lot.”
Amazingly, having seen God work powerfully in Abnober’s life, not only did his mother start living out her faith more fearlessly, but his father became a Christian. “I thank God my family is now Christian,” Abnober says.
Faith leads to job dismissal and death threats
But, as often happens for Christians in Colombia, the family’s bold expression of their faith led to persecution.
“My mum had a job as a leader in childcare, but she was dismissed because she believes in God,” Abnober explains. “She started to tell little children about Jesus, but the leaders in the tribe didn't want that.”
The family home is in proximity to a South American drug route. Abnober’s parents began deterring young people from drugs – but it didn’t go down well. “My parents started to work with a pastor in the area,” Abnober says. “They try to keep children away from the drugs trade, but my father is receiving death threats. He can no longer go fishing alone, because then they might kill him, and if he wants to travel beyond our neighbourhood, someone else has to go with him.”
Excitement for the future and Christmas
Despite these difficulties, Abnober – now 22 – knows that God is taking care of him and his family. “God is good to me and I know that He's with me.”
With his eyes set firmly on God, Abnober’s looking forward to the future. “I'd like to have a career in computer science,” he says. “God willing, I'll complete my studies next year and then I can start working as a professional, but I would also like to go on studying in a different field. If I develop further, I'll be better able to help my family and be of service to society.”
The tribe Abnober comes from don’t celebrate Christmas, but his family do and have over the years developed their own traditions to celebrate the festive season.
“We get together on 24 December to eat and tell stories. It's like a family reunion. This is a period of thankfulness – God has granted me another year and I can celebrate the birth of Jesus. For me, Christmas means that the King came, that He lived here as a human and died for us. This is Christmas.”
Abnober needs your prayers
Your prayers and support played an enormous role in transforming Abnober and his family. From a father and son too caught up in alcohol to think about others, and a mother fearful to talk about faith, they are now a family who love one another and boldly share their faith in Jesus with others. And in a couple of weeks’ time, the family will again gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Abnober asks for your continued prayers. “Please pray for my parents. Things are difficult for them and they don't have work or an income. Additionally, they're having difficulties with my grandmother and cousin who live with them and don't want to know anything about God. They're even saying bad things about my parents. Please pray that my grandma and cousin will come to know Jesus.”
“Please also pray for my village. Many people, particularly older people, drink alcohol and I want so much for them to come to know God, too, and to experience a change in their way of life. My elder sister has a child who's ill – they, too, need your prayers. And pray for me that I may achieve my goals and have a good future.”
Abnober is one of many children who’ve enjoyed the safe haven of the Colombia Children’s Centre. They come from communities where locals – be they from traditional tribes or armed gangs – are hostile to their Christian faith. Children stay for either a short or long period, and they enjoy – among other things – good education, fun and fellowship with other children, and the opportunity to grow in their relationship with God.