While most 13-year-old Colombian boys are worrying about their homework or upcoming pop quizzes, Josue David Parra is busy traveling across South America spreading the message of God and, he claims, healing sick people through his evangelical preaching.
Josue hails from the Atlantic coastal town of Soledad, which means “loneliness”, and at just 13 he is Colombia’s youngest preacher.
Josue began his evangelical career in the indigenous reservation of Guaimaro when he was just 4 years old, but his talents were too great for such a small village, and it quickly spread across the Atlantic coast and then to all of Colombia.
He has visited over 20 Colombian departments, and in 2008, took his act abroad with trips to Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, and Chile. He also intends to go to Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, and even China.
While both of Josue’s parents are Christian preachers, the boy maintains that this has not in any way influenced him in his choice of career.
Like any embarrassing dad, Luis Alberto Parra is proud of his son and convinced that his little Josue is truly is a prophet – a belief that Josue doesn’t contradict.
“I am a prophet, I feel it,” said the teenager.
And it’s not only Josue and his family that believe in his power as many of those who come into contact with him have similar feelings.
“I felt peace in my heart, I felt the spirit touching me. I used to suffer from allergies, and now my nose is completely clear,” recounts 17-year-old Paola after being led by Josue through a religious experience involving speaking in tongue, collapsing onto the floor, and convulsing.
Like many evangelical preachers found around the world, Josue claims to have special powers to channel Jesus and cure those suffering from ailments.
According to Josue, God gave him the gift to cure people, and cited examples of “people standing up out of wheelchairs”, and tumors disappearing from those that he blessed.
When asked, however, why he hasn’t cured a problem he suffers from in his eyes, he responded that the “Apostle Paul had problems with his sight” too, but that God will take care of the ailment.
When El Tiempo asked the boy’s father to provide any names or contact information for the people that Josue has supposedly cured, he replied by saying that it would be impossible, for they do not keep contact with them.
For a 13-year-old, Josue has some rather strong beliefs on many contentious topics. “The issue of evolution is tremendous. The man who invented evolution ignored God’s creation. I do not come from a monkey, I come from Christ and I have his DNA.”
Josue also warns that “neither homosexuals nor effeminate people will enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
For Haiti, and the earthquake that killed over 200,000 in February, Josue thinks that they got what they deserved, “The earthquake happened because it is a country that has always said no to God, a country that always practices in voodoo and witchcraft.”
According to Josue’s father, the family does not charge admission for people to attend his son’s sermons, but are supported instead through the donations people give following his events. The revenue helps support Josue and his family, allowing them to live comfortably, but not in luxury.
“All I need is a car for my house. I’m crying out to God, praying to God, so that he may get me a ($18,239 – $25,919 Suzuki) Grand Vitara, in order to reach everywhere,” Josue said.
Despite his mission to bring the teachings of Jesus to people across the world, a mission that has forced him to stop attending school, Josue insists that he is still just a “normal kid” like everyone else, who “play video games and goes to the soccer fields.”