18 NOVEMBER 2008
It was an ordinary school day in the village of Santana Ramos, Colombia, when guerilla soldiers entered Dora’s classroom on 18 November 2008.
The guerillas were part of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist movement characterised by violence and hate for Christians. The men burst into the schoolroom and ordered the children to go home.
Dora Saavedra and her husband Ferley both worked as teachers at the small school. They were passionate about teaching children, and also telling them about Jesus.
Their poor rural farming village, Santana Ramos, was marked by violence between the FARC guerillas and the Colombian government. Despite this, Dora and Ferley felt called to bring the light of Jesus to their home town.
The couple was a threat to the guerillas, who knew that if young children received an education – especially if they learned about Jesus – they would be less likely to join the guerilla’s cause.
The day before the guerillas arrived at the school, Dora and Ferley’s neighbour had warned them that they would be killed the following day. Instead of feeling panic, the couple felt a sense of calm. They were ready to meet the Lord if that was his plan. That night, they spent time with their children in prayer and fasting, praying Jesus’ prayer of “not my will, but Yours” (Luke 22:42).
After the guerillas had ordered the children to go home, they took Dora and Ferley outside and led them across a field to a river. They ordered the couple to lie face-down on the ground, where they were each shot to death.
The Saavedras had lived out the love of Christ in their community, setting an example of faith and courage. Just months after their death, their twelve-year-old daughter, Marcella, said: “If I met the men [who killed them] I would forgive them. I know this would be hard, but I know God forgives them; so I have to as well.”
As we honour the Saavedras’ sacrifice today, let us pray for their village and for the children they taught, many of whom know Christ today simply because two teachers were willing to risk their lives for the gospel.