Without warning, two members of a right-wing paramilitary death squad burst into a small whitewashed church near Colombia's Caribbean coast and shot the Sunday school teacher dead in front of the children. "The day these men came, I was the one preaching, so I was very afraid," recalls pastor Miguel Cruz.* "When we came to this area they didn't like us because we came from the countryside. They think just because you lived out there that you must be a part of the other group. They said he was bad, but he was our friend and brother."
On the Colombian rim of the Amazon jungle, pastor Julio Torres* reads Psalm 37 by flashlight during a Saturday evening service. A guerrilla attack has once again knocked out power to most of the region, as Torres, himself personally threatened with death by the guerrillas, proclaims these words in the humid darkness: "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday."
In Colombia, there are 30,000 violent deaths per year. State security forces, leftist guerrillas, and right-wing paramilitary groups battle for control. According to the U.S. State Department, the paramilitaries commit 70 percent of the human rights abuses in Colombia, yet U.S. training and military aid for the Colombian army are focused almost exclusively against the guerrillas. Colombia is the third highest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel and Egypt.