A Service to God: A Lutheran Bishop's Work Amid Persecution in El Salvador

In a poor, war-torn country where almost everyone is devoutly Roman Catholic, one popular church leader is a soft-spoken Lutheran. Medardo Gomez, El Salvador's first and only Lutheran bishop, has won the hearts of the Salvadoran people -- and the hatred of the Salvadoran government -- for his commitment to the very poorest of his country: refugees and the displaced.

At the request of the refugees, Bishop Gomez has become a leader of the repopulation movement in El Salvador. Last year he personally accompanied 70 families from the Lutheran refugee camp he directs back to their bombed-out homes, and he helped coordinate the massive repatriation of some 4,500 Salvadorans from the Mesa Grande refugee camp in Honduras. Now he works with these simple peasants as they try to rebuild their homes and their lives under constant threat of attack and harassment from the Salvadoran military.

For his work, Bishop Gomez has been abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by the Salvadoran secret police, and he has received telephoned death threats from unknown sources. But he has chosen to stay in El Salvador and to continue his work, strengthened by his knowledge that "that which is of God is impossible to destroy," and inspired by his belief that "evil does not win in the end."

Bishop Gomez was interviewed through an interpreter by Vicki Kemper in Washington, D.C.

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