Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9

Oscar’s life was threatened many times because he spoke out against the injustices perpetrated by the regime of his birthplace, El Salvador in Central America. The country was governed by a small elite who ruled through money and violence. Oscar was a man of prayer who was troubled by the violence of the regime and also by the Marxist beliefs of the Salvadorian resistance movement.

For a long while he did not make any protest, but within a year of becoming archbishop of San Salvador he underwent a transformation. He started to speak out against the regime’s injustices and gave support to the resistance, much to the government’s displeasure.

Two months before he died he wrote in a Mexican newspaper: “My life has been threatened many times. I have to confess that, as a Christian, I don’t believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadorian people.

As a Shepherd, I am obliged by Divine Law to give my life for those I love, for the entire Salvadorian people, including those who threaten to assassinate me. If they should go so far as to carry out their threats, I want you to know that I now offer my blood to God for justice and the resurrection of El Salvador…”

On 24 March 1980, just as he finished preaching, a shot rang out. He fell and died on the spot.

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
C S Lewis (1898-1963), Mere Christianity

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.