Colombia’s Unreached Tribes

Deep within the dense jungles and vast savannah regions of Colombia are nearly a hundred different tribes, each one a unique ethnos – an ethnolinguistic nation created by God. Most have little to no knowledge of Biblical Christianity and have never heard the gospel. The majority of these tribes still maintain their indigenous native American languages so some extent, though Spanish has increasingly been adopted. They vary in population size, from tens of thousands to just a handful of families and clans. Some tribes live in established village communities within government-designated ‘resguardos’ or reservations. Others lead nomadic or semi-nomadic lives, relying on hunting and foraging for survival. The latter maintain varying degrees of isolation from the outside world, often living “off-grid” to the fullest extent. This isolation is not a romanticized lifestyle of freedom, but rather a result of fear. Fear dominates their existence, hindering their ability to know the one true living God as their lives are influenced by demon ‘spirit guides’ with whom they commune through hallucinogenic rituals directed by the resident shamans. In some sense, their isolation is justified as temporary protection from a dangerous, exploitative outside world. Our hope and prayer is that one day they will find true freedom in Christ, discovering hope, joy, and a faithful Guide to navigate the challenges of the world encroaching upon them.

During my trip to the Amazon jungle in Peru last September, I had the privilege of meeting Cesar, an indigenous pastor-turned-missionary from a Colombian tribe near the Venezuelan border. Cesar is currently leading LICAC, a network of tribal Christians from Colombia, with the aim of reaching and discipling several of that country’s remote jungle tribes within a few years. All of these men come from jungle tribes themselves and have personally experienced the transformative power of Jesus. They are committed to sharing the Gospel with other tribes that are still living in spiritual darkness. Given the remote locations of these tribes, extensive planning is required. Traveling to these areas can take weeks, navigating through winding jungle rivers and tributaries. As the Research Coordinator for ALTECO, my role is to assist LICAC in their research and planning efforts. This includes identifying and mapping feasible river routes, developing surveys, and gathering information about the unreached tribes. The attached map provides a general overview of the tribes’ locations, and more details will be added as the planning progresses.

To learn more about the indigenous ethne of Colombia, you can find detailed information on the Etnopedia page I have created (in even greater detail in Spanish at Etnopedia – Español). We greatly appreciate the financial support from generous individuals like you. If you would like to make a one-time tax-deductible donation or become a monthly supporter of this important work, visit us at https://alteco.org/drake-and-megan-sprague. Join us in sustaining this vital and strategic ministry helping indigenous missionaries reach the world’s unreached tribes!

While not a Colombian tribe, these Matis Indians who I met just across the border in Brazil have until recently lived in isolation deep in the jungle.
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