Venezuela (MNN) — Every day, Venezuela seems to be inching closer to a civil war.
Protests between civilians and armed soldiers have persisted for three months, in which nearly 70 people have been killed and 1,300 injured. The conflict stems from President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution, as well as a failing economy.
“I think Venezuela’s woes started with the previous leader, dictator Hugo Chavez,” Steve Shantz of Trans World Radio, an international mass media ministry, says. “Chavez had a socialist platform and really invested heavily in social projects. Of course, it was an oil-based economy, and Venezuela relied entirely on oil exports to fund their economy and never really invested in developing a solid industry inside the country.
“So when oil prices collapsed, the money ran out, and Venezuela as a country is in a strong economic crisis. The power passed to the current leader, Maduro, when Chavez died of cancer, and he is trying to pursue the socialist agenda without the money and the funding to do it. This has resulted in food shortages and very, very severe economic problems in the country. There are no products available in the stores.”
TWR is one organization working to provide peace amidst the turbulence. It has a transmitter on the nearby island country of Bonaire through which it broadcasts Gospel-centered programs throughout Venezuela.
“We have to be very careful,” Shantz says. “We don’t want to have a political message. We want to bring a message of hope.
“One of the groups we’re trying to bring hope to is children, young people, and so we have a program called ‘Peter the Octopus’, ‘Pedrito el Pulpo’ and it’s a weekly program that we broadcast into Venezuela. And this is an octopus, he’s a puppet, and we try and speak values and hope and present a message of a brighter future for kids.”
As food and basic necessities become increasingly scarce, TWR is also working to meet these children’s physical needs.
“They go into the slum areas of the cities in Venezuela and hold children’s rallies,” Shantz explains. “In the past, we used to distribute textbooks and coloring books and crayons and things that the kids would like to have to play with and to use after the rallies. But what we’ve started to do now is we’ve started to feed them porridge, basically, because the kids are only eating one meal a day.”
The situation is dire, but the good news is you can make a difference. You can help TWR continue spreading the Good News throughout Venezuela by clicking here.
Also, remember to pray. Shantz asks that you pray for a political change in favor of the people and that they would find a relationship with God.