New Tribes seeks a stay in Venezuela

By December 7, 2005

Venezuela (MNN) — On November 14, Venezuela’s Ministry of Justice and Interior made a resolution that would essentially kick New Tribes Mission out of the tribal areas of that South American nation. The resolution came after negative comments from President Hugo Chavez, accusing New Tribes Mission of colonialism.

New Tribes’s Dave Zelenak says yesterday they submitted documents to the country’s Supreme Court, “To initiate legal action that would annul that resolution that came out November 14th. We’re hoping that we could get a temporary stay of that.”

Zelenak isn’t sure why New Tribes is being targeted. He says not every Venezuelan believes his organization should leave. “There was a kind of a protest in the Capital city of the Amazon State where about 4,000 people showed up saying, ‘News Tribes Mission has helped us, leave them alone, leave them in the country.”

If this effort fails, New Tribes will be forced to leave the tribal areas of Venezuela some time in February. Zelenak says he believes that will affect all NTM staff. “I’m under the impression that (it affects) all New Tribes Missionaries, which are made up of nine different nationalities, which 30 some are Venezuelans.”

Zelenak says this edict has created a lot of questions, especially for Venezuelan staff. “What does this edict mean, pulling all the New Tribes Missionaries out of these indigenous areas? Does it affect Venezuelans? And, how does that affect freedom of religion in Venezuela?”

In the mean time, Zelenak is urging Christians to pray, “That God would just touch the right people in power in Venezuela to reverse this decision, that there would be freedom of religion, that we’d be able to continue working in Venezuela, helping the indigenous people.”

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