Chavez re-election receives mixed reaction from mission groups

By December 5, 2006

Venezuela (MNN) — Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has won a landslide re-election, saying he will launch an era of ‘new democracy’ in that South American nation. His re-election is received mixed reaction from the Christian community.

Trans World Radio broadcasts Christian radio programming in Venezuela. TWR’s Jim Munger says, “Some (Christians) are very apprehensive about his close identification with Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. Other people look at his concern for the poor people and so they favor him.”

Those that are concerned with his ties to Castro are concerned about religious liberty, says Munger.

While a large mission organization was ordered out of the tribal areas of Venezuela last year, Munger says TWR has actually seen expanded ministry opportunities. Chavez has given a lot of attention to education and is requiring radio stations to air children’s programming. “Many of these radio stations are ill equipped to provide and produce quality programs for children. And so, Trans World Radio has been able to offer their children’s program, ‘Pedrito el Pulpo’ for use on regular radio stations.”

Chavez also requires morals based education in the public schools. Munger says, “Trans World Radio has been authorized to go into the Public schools using the materials of our children’s program and put on a puppet show, and to give the Gospel and give an invitation.”

One presentation in one school alone saw up to 25-percent of the children respond to the invitation.

Munger says the lesson in all this is that God is sovereign. “He puts up rulers and he takes them down. And so, if we recognize that God is sovereign and that God is working, we (should say), what are you trying to do here? How can we be a part of what we’re doing?”

TWR is watching the situation closely and they’re prepared if religious liberty ends in the country. “Besides broadcasting on about 15 or 20 stations in the country, we also broadcast from our station in Bonaire, just off the coast. And so, we have a back up location to work from, if necessary.”

In the mean time, prayer and funding are needed so they can continue sharing the Gospel on the air and in schools.

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