What’s Colombia LIKE? How do the people live? (Part 1)
First, we should dispense of one misconception many people have of Latin American countries: most Colombians do not live in little huts out in the jungle! For your typical Colombian, life is more like living in Chicago, San Francisco or New York City; a majority of people live in urban areas. Many live in full-fledged metropolises like Bogotá, Medellín, or Cali, but even in the smaller cities, life is lived in close proximity with others. Most Colombian cities have a higher population density than their American counterparts—even the relatively laid-back beach town of Cartagena is denser than the city of Atlanta!
Three major factors distinguish Colombian life from American life, however. The first one is poverty. Even after accounting for the cheaper cost of living, Colombians earn just a fourth of what Americans do. (If you don’t adjust for cost of living, they earn less than a seventh of what Americans do.) This leads to nearly a third of Colombians being officially considered as below the poverty line, with even worse situations in the rural countryside. As bad as the situation is overall, it’s made worse when you realize that the vast majority of money in the country is held by the wealthy few. 17.8% of Colombians live on less than $2 a day.
What do you do when you’re trying to make a living, but no matter how hard you try, you don’t find any success? Most Colombians try religion, but finding no answers from Mary, many turn to drugs. Drugs like cocaine are still a large part of Colombian society and daily life, and the crime that follows such widespread drug use has left a horrific mark on the country. Now, it is true that crime in Colombia is not nearly as bad as it was; the murder rate has dropped in half over the last ten years. But the lingering impacts of the drug cartels still are being felt in all parts of the country.
Of course, the biggest need that any Colombian has is spiritual. Many Colombians, especially younger ones, have left the Catholic church in all but name. And why would they stay? They’re looking for meaning, for hope, for truth, and for the peace of God, and they tend to not find anything life-giving in the Catholic church. It’s estimated that only a third of Colombian “Catholics” actively practice their faith. While Christians have the right to freely evangelize, most Colombians are still not reached. Most of them have yet to hear the Gospel clearly presented to them. Most of them, as of today, are still heading straight to hell. Please pray that more laborers will rise up to go and tell Colombians and people all over the world about our Great God and what He has done for us.
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