Grace Knows No Borders

Bringing the Gospel to Venezuelan refugees

March 17, 2020

Throughout Colombia and many parts of Latin America, each day there are hundreds of thousands of people just walking. Down roads, through the wilderness, across borders. Young and old, carrying suitcases, children, food, clothes. Walking for days, weeks, months.

These walkers, dubbed “los caminantes,” are Venezuelan refugees escaping one of the most disastrous economic downfalls in recent history.

“The scenario has forced many people to leave the country,” says Oswaldo, Bible League International’s National Director in Venezuela. “The ones who left have gone because they could not survive in Venezuela, and us, the ones who stayed, are tolerating the situation with faith that God will change the scene soon.”

Close to 5 million Venezuelans have left the country, the majority on foot. And many of them come to Cúcuta.

Cúcuta, Colombia, is the sixth largest city in the country. The city has a bustling economy and numerous successful industries. At one point, it benefitted from its border with Venezuela. But now, that border serves as a starting line for refugees.

Millions have traveled through Cúcuta and many have stayed permanently. This major influx in population has affected the entire city, including ministry efforts. But the graciousness of the Lord is shining through believers in the area. Many Bible League-affiliated pastors and staff members are providing these refugees with food, shelter, and most importantly, the Gospel.

An Honor and a Privilege

Twenty minutes outside the city limits of Cúcuta, there’s a small house nestled between mountains. It’s home to Pastor Helio. He’s been using Bible League materials for more than 20 years and has been an advocate for the programs for just as long.

When I welcome the brothers in my house, I am welcoming God in my home. Thus, for me, it is an honor and a privilege to have these leaders in my house. It gives me satisfaction from serving the King.”

It’s been Pastor Helio’s mission to help his Venezuelan brothers and sisters as much as possible, from collecting donations and Bibles to visiting them in their homes to opening his own home for a Bible League presentation. On this day, 12 Venezuelan pastors and ministry leaders have gathered in his living room to hear how these programs will help their struggling congregations. When asked why he is so hospitable, Pastor Helio gets emotional.

“I must do it. God has taught me that we need to serve one another, and they are my brothers and sisters,” he says.

Second Story Church

In the heart of La Parada, a community in Cúcuta bordering Venezuela, there’s a small church on the second story of a corner building. The narrow flight of stairs leads into a large room that overlooks the crowded street. Smiling faces welcome visitors, all led by Pastor Oscar.

This church is more than a place of worship; it’s a home to 18 Venezuelan refugees, including 5 children. Some have lived here for months, while others have been here for years. A curtain hangs in the center of the room to hide their beds and personal belongings.

Pastor Oscar hosts two Project Philip Bible studies and has even planted another church across the border in Venezuela. Even though this church may just be a stopping point for some people as they pass through, it is evident that God is moving in the midst of this terrible situation.

This church is helping people like Wilmer, a Venezuelan refugee who battled drug addiction and alcoholism for years. His family and friends gave up on him. “I did not realize it at the time, but I was in a vicious cycle,” he says. “I was trying to depend on my own power and did not see how my actions were affecting others.”

Wilmer finally realized he needed much more than what he could do in his own strength. He needed God. He admitted himself into rehab, knowing he had to surrender. “My parents said I wouldn’t last too long in that place. Many of my friends said I would not make it in the rehab center,” he remembers. “But I genuinely understood, at that moment, that I needed God.”

Wilmer has lived in Pastor Oscar’s church for two years. He is clean and serving the Lord. The church is his home and this group is his family; without it, he would have nothing.

Feeding Families

Every Wednesday around noon, there’s a line outside the Abundant Life Pentecostal Church of God in the heart of Cúcuta. Men, women, and children file down the sidewalk, waiting patiently to enter. There are no services, no classes. There’s no organized event happening.

There’s lunch.

Pastor Jordi and five dedicated women meet every Wednesday to make 300 meals for Venezuelan refugees in their community. Inside the church they feed 70 people, then the rest of the meals are distributed in areas like La Parada. Pastor Jordi has coordinated with other churches in the area to be sure that there’s a free meal available every day.

Pastor Jordi is a firm believer in Bible League materials because he’s seen the impact firsthand. Five years ago, his church was in a small cabin. He dreamed of a bigger building but struggled to see growth. “God was helping me,” he remembers. He implemented Project Philip Bible studies and now has almost 200 members in a much larger building, one just like he dreamed of.

While he hopes these refugees will attend church, his focus is not on pressuring them, just feeding them a much needed, homecooked meal. “It’s very hard to feed everyone, but it’s a joy,” he says. “We hope to continue, but the resources are hard to come by.” Through this service, he has watched the Lord work—some who no longer need the help still bring their families for church services.

Revival is Coming

Though the situation in Venezuela is unimaginable to most, God is working through His servants in Colombia, and even inside the country of Venezuela.

“On average, we have about 500 churches working with Bible League Venezuela today,” Oswaldo says.

With such a revival comes a need for more Bibles, more training, and more support for people in Venezuela and in supporting countries like Colombia.

“The goal is for each Venezuelan to have the Word of the Lord so it can change their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities,” he says. “Today, in Venezuela, there are no ministries that can provide the Word of God for free to the people besides us. Many churches and ministerial organizations seek the Bible League Venezuela for support.”

God is moving so much that it makes me believe that we are living a revival in Venezuela. Many people are getting to know Jesus Christ amid this crisis.”

Churches through Venezuela, across Colombia, and all of Latin America will continue to serve, but they need your support.

Most importantly, these men, women, and children need your prayers. Pray for the refugees that have left everything, that they would find comfort in God during this crisis. Pray that the situation in Venezuela would make a miraculous turnaround. Pray for the ministry leaders in Venezuela, Colombia, and across Latin America, that the Lord would give them strength and perseverance as they share the Gospel every day.

If you would like to support the ministry efforts further, give today to send more Bibles across Latin America. You’ll help believers to continue to share God’s Word with the most vulnerable in their communities. Every gift makes an eternal difference.

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