The Role of the Christian Church in the Face of Internally Displaced Communities in Colombia

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A 50-year-history of armed conflict has forced millions of Colombians to flee their homes. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) often encounter ongoing economic, occupational, and psychosocial challenges (Denov & Marchand, 2014; Herm-Singh & Stuttgen, 2018). In response to the armed conflict, IDPs’ voices have become a vital component in peacemaking process in Colombia (Greminger, Vidal, & Kälin, 2008; Wong, 2008); similar, religious groups and faith leaders have played a powerful and influential role in the accompaniment to IDPs. Given the limited research on the IDPs’ perceptions of religious groups’ support, in particular the Christian Church (i.e., the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church), the aim of this study was to examine faith-based support efforts for IDPs in two pilot communities in Colombia. In this qualitative study, mixed methods and grounded theory were utilized to compare the experience and perceptions across IDPs (2 focus groups; n = 14) and religious leaders (n = 2), residing in rural and urban communities. Results showed significant within and between group differences across urban and rural IDPs and faith leaders with regards to types of support received and barriers to accessing help from religious groups and non-religious entities (e.g., NGOs), in many domains (e.g., physical, emotional, social). IDP’s expectations and barriers to support were also coded. Findings suggest that it is vital for the voices of IDPs to be heard by faith leaders and church members when designing and implementing outreach services among this vulnerable population.

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Rojas-Flores, Lisseth

Document Type





Colombia, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), Religious group, Armed conflict, Displacement


Clinical Psychology


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