“The bridge of desperation.” A CAM contact used these words to describe a bridge that spans the Tachira River in South America, connecting the countries of Venezuela and Colombia. In recent years, throngs of Venezuelans have crossed this bridge as they flee the difficulties in their homeland.
Venezuela was once known for its wealth and booming oil industry. Now it is mired in one of the world’s worst economic crises. This decline stems from years of corrupt leadership, enormous inflation, and economic failure.
Immense needs in Venezuela—many people living on $1 per day
Ordinary Venezuelans are struggling to get by. A CAM contact reported that many people make as little as $1 USD a day. A two-pound bag of flour, a staple in Venezuela, costs at least $2, more than one day’s wage.
Amid Venezuela’s difficulties, small hopeful signs are beginning to show. Little shops are slowly starting to open, and some food items are available on store shelves that once were bare. While things may appear to be improving, “go back a street or two beyond the storefronts,” says a contact, “and you will still see a lot of misery.” High prices and low wages continue to make life difficult. People often cannot afford basic essentials even though they are available.
Spiritual opportunities—an unusual openness to God’s Word
Many Venezuelans don’t know where to turn to in their struggles and desperation. As they search for hope, many people are more open to the Gospel message.
To respond to these needs and opportunities, we are working with conservative Anabaptist believers in South America. CAM helps support soup kitchens in Venezuela that are operated by local churches. These kitchens serve some of the country’s most vulnerable: the handicapped and elderly, children, and others. “The saddest stories come from children who are living with their grandparents because their parents have left the country, and . . . older folks who are all alone because their whole family left,” shares a contact. Some people say the food they receive at the kitchen is the only meal they will eat that day.
Each day before serving food, kitchen workers share a devotional from God’s Word. They also offer Christian literature along with the physical nourishment. This is opening doors! Some recipients have chosen to follow Christ and are helping at the soup kitchens, serving their fellow Venezuelans.
A daily meal is a source of relief for people like 65-year-old Rosemary and her husband. It is hard to make ends meet on their small income. But this couple has received more than food at the kitchen. Through the workers’ witness, Rosemary learned to know Jesus. “She tells us how her life has changed since she accepted Christ,” says a pastor. “She thanks God, because through this project she heard the Word of God every day and that is how she came to know Jesus.”
With supporters’ help, CAM is providing funds to print and distribute Bibles, Bible story books, La Antorcha de la Verdad (The Torch of Truth) magazines, and other literature. Some of these materials go to soup kitchens, while a large portion goes to Venezuelan pastors, who are grateful for practical Bible teaching material for their churches. Literature is scarce in many parts of Venezuela, and people are eager to receive it. At one distribution, several pastors traveled five hours to pick up their prized literature.
Venezuela’s story is one of economic collapse, misery, and suffering. Yet God is using this tragedy to open hearts and show Himself as the only true source of hope. Our 2023 budget for this project is $1.5 million. If you would like to help provide food, Christian literature, or other items, your support will be a blessing. God bless you!
To help support the International Crisis Venezuela program, please click below to give a one-time gift.