Venezuela’s president chastened; reports of persecution rising

By December 5, 2007

Venezuela (MNN) — Voters in Venezuela have chastened
President Hugo Chavez by turning down his proposed constitutional changes. 

The church took an official stance against the President in
the referendum. In their opinion, the
bishops are quoted, "Besides restricting many civil, social and political
human rights protected by the Constitution, [the reform] establishes motives
for political discrimination and introduces new fields of confrontation and polarization
between Venezuelans."

With the failure of
the constitutional overhaul, Chavez faces a term limit. That means he's out of the President's office
in 2013. Voice of the Martyrs' Todd
Nettleton says that means he may speed up his press toward a socialist

Unfortunately, that's not good news for believers. "We have heard reports of increased
persecution, particularly along the Colombian border with Venezuela. There are some cases
of Venezuela providing sanctuary for FARC guerrillas from Colombia, and in other
cases, literally, persecution instances against the church in that particular

The concern is growing as ministries look over Chavez' track
record against Christians. A year ago,
he revoked a permit given to the mission more than 40 years ago. That gave the Bible translation ministry just
90 days to relocate their personnel from the tribal areas. At the
time, the missionaries were already preparing the indigenous people for the
possibility of continuing the ministry on their own.

Prayer is needed for church workers in this area. "Times of political turmoil can be times
of great outreach and great ministry, but they obviously are also times of
uncertainty and times of questions. I
think we can pray for the leaders of the church and pray for the members of
the church in Venezuela to have wisdom and to continue to be bold witnesses for

Please pray that President Chavez will have a change of
heart towards Christians. Pray that the church leadership will know how to best
lead through this uncertain time. Pray
that the Lord will raise up believers to carry on the torch so that the church
of Christ can move forward in those remote areas where the Gospel has been


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