Venezuela, once one of the richest countries in South America, has plummeted into a deep economic crisis. Due to a corrupt and socialistic government, the economy is in shambles. Food is scarce and the country is fast heading for collapse.
Rampant inflation of over one million percent has left the Venezuelan money with almost no purchasing power. Our contacts say that if a person would go to town with a wheelbarrow of cash, someone might dump the cash and take the wheelbarrow! CAM contacts witnessed Venezuelans throwing their worthless cash into the air and scattering it through the streets.
Venezuelans struggle to survive
On an income of only several dollars a month, families are struggling to survive. Their children are hungry. Restaurant operators do not throw away their scraps but set them out on the streets. Many eager hands reach for the leftover morsels.
Parents with sick children are especially distressed. One mother was in tears because she had spent the last of her money to take her feverish little boy to the doctor. Now she had nothing left to buy the prescribed medication for him, which only cost the equivalent of four U.S. dollars.
Desperate to escape poverty, crime, and death, three million people have fled Venezuela and tens of thousands more are attempting to leave the country. “Their faces look forlorn and hopeless,” said one of our contacts who watched crowds of refugees streaming across a bridge into neighboring Colombia. Many are bedraggled, having left the country on foot, some without shoes, and with little other than the clothes on their backs.
“These people don’t want to leave Venezuela any more than we want to leave the United States,” says a CAM contact who works in Venezuela. But they are running out of alternatives and many are despairing. “We hear of extortion, murder, and suicides arising out of the desperate situation.”
An unusual spiritual awakening
In the midst of this crisis, the people of Venezuela are experiencing a great spiritual awakening. Many are open to the Gospel message. “Venezuelans are gladly hearing the Word, who had little occasion to hear it before the crisis,” our contacts shared.
Although many are very open to Christian literature and Bible teaching, little of it is available. “There is no place to get Bibles for new Christians,” said one elderly pastor. “And if they can find a Bible, they don’t have money to pay for it.”
In response to the lack of Christian literature, CAM is partnering with Mount Zion Literature Ministry (MZL) to provide packages of Bible story books, Bibles, and Biblical teaching books in Venezuela. Christian workers are distributing the packages of literature to thousands of churches across Venezuela. “The recipients are overjoyed with the Bibles and books they receive,” said a MZL team member. “There have been more requests than we are able to fill.”
The books serve as a great outreach tool for churches to minister to unbelievers. Hungry souls devour the words of life found in the literature. One girl who received a copy of the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible read the entire book in only two days.
Food for the hungry
CAM is funding a soup kitchen that has been set up just across the border in Colombia. Disheartened and hungry Venezuelans come to this kitchen to receive hot meals. The kitchen is serving over 1,000 people per day. Refugees also receive spiritual food as a Mennonite pastor preaches a Gospel message to each group before they eat. Workers also have many opportunities to provide spiritual counsel and Christian literature to distraught refugees.
Pray for the suffering Venezuelans, the work and witness of the food kitchen, and that the doors would remain open to distribute Christian literature. The projected cost of this project is $800,000. With your support, we would like to help meet both the serious physical and spiritual needs while we can.