Venezuela (MNN) — Think of your local elementary school. Maybe your own kids go there, or children you know. What if you found out half of those kids weren’t getting three meals a day?
Right now, that’s the situation in Venezuela. The financial crisis has built up to a major food shortage, and 50 percent of parents can only give their kids one, maybe two, meals a day.
“The situation in Venezuela is of a scarcity and desperation,” says Rosa Contreias Hart with Christian Aid Mission. “There are no food supplies or basic items for cooking in the stores. So even if you have money, it’s not available to buy.”
To make matters worse, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is trying to maintain a bravado front as the leader of a strong and stable country. So he’s refusing humanitarian aid, denying there’s any crisis at all.
A trade bloc of South American countries called Mercosur says these actions amount to human rights violations and are threatening to expel Venezuela from the bloc.
The Venezuelan people have mounted some of the largest protests the nation has ever seen. But President Maduro has muffled media coverage on the marches.
In the midst of economic turmoil, Contreias Hart says Christian Aid Mission’s church ministry partners are stepping up to provide aid across the Venezuela-Colombia border.
“The ministry Christian Aid supports is based in Colombia, and they’re providing aid to the Venezuelan people from the three church congregations they have on the border with Venezuela…. Every week, Venezuelans cross the river border to Colombia looking for basic food supplies and medicine. The ministry Christian Aid supports is providing items such as flour, oil, beans, rice, and clothing. And most of all, they are sharing with them the Word of God and giving them a Bible with these supplies.”
Really, it came down to the Colombian churches seeing the dire need — and knowing how Christ would have them respond.
“The ministry has seen all these floods of people coming from the border to Colombia to buy supplies. So in the midst of this scarcity and need, the church has organized themselves to be able to provide these supplies. Most of the ministry has taken the lead in support, and we believe they are strategically located in these border cities so they can reach the people who are coming to buy supplies for them to take back to their home in Venezuela.”
In addition to satisfying physical hunger, Contreias Hart says this border ministry to needy Venezuelan individuals and families has opened doors to spiritual nourishment. And more people are joining the Body of Christ as a result.
“The churches have built relationships with some of these families, and as they build a relationship, now many of these families are crossing the border to the church on Sundays and worshipping with the church in these cities in Colombia, so basically becoming members of the congregation.”
Humanitarian aid can’t go to the people of Venezuela… but the people of Venezuela are finding ways to seek out Christ’s Church for aid. These congregations are in a divinely-appointed place to be a tangible encouragement and witness for the glory of God.
Imagine… how much more they could do if the worldwide Church rallied around their ministry and a flood of donations inspired by the love of Christ came in for the people of Venezuela.
Contreias Hart says, “Most of all, we ask for your prayers for the Venezuelan people in this time of need and desperate situation, that through the church’s outreach they will get the food and medicine supplies they need, and also that by talking to the ministry leaders and church and missionaries, they will share the cup of Christ with them and that they will have their spiritual needs met as well.”