At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Venezuela ranked as one of South America’s richest countries. Its huge oil reserves created the basis of a booming economy. People from other areas of the world settled in the country, attracted to its wealth.
Today, Venezuela is considered to be among the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Severe hunger and shortages of basic necessities are harsh realities. The political corruption, socialist policies, and economic failure over the past twenty years have spiked enormous inflation and drastically slashed purchasing power. This leaves millions of ordinary Venezuelans struggling to feed their families.
Desperate for a better life, more than 5 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015. Their journey to neighboring countries like Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador is not easy. Many flee the country on foot. They walk and hitchhike for hundreds of miles through mountainous terrain. Others make the trip to the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, near the northern Venezuelan border. Dozens have lost their lives while crossing the perilous waterway between these countries.
Since last year, small glimmers of hope seem to be returning to Venezuela, and some Venezuelan refugees have returned to their homeland.
But amid these improvements, great suffering continues. High food prices and low incomes make hunger a widespread struggle. In some dire cases, trash piles become the source of food. Hospitals across the country lack sufficient medicines and supplies to offer proper care to patients. In parts of the country, innocent people are caught in the crossfire as the national army, drug cartels, and local terrorist groups vie for power.
These tremendous needs are creating a deep spiritual hunger among Venezuelans. “Thousands of people who before didn’t really need God found themselves on their knees asking for their daily bread,” shares a CAM contact. Believers report a growing openness and hunger for God’s Word. Churches are experiencing growth.
“There is a big opportunity right now for flooding the country with free literature,” says a believer who traveled to Venezuela. “Many people are living in survival mode and have no money for books.” In response to this great opportunity, we are working with conservative Anabaptists to print and distribute Bibles, Bible story books, children’s Sunday school books, and other Biblical teaching materials for seeking Venezuelans. Pastors are grateful to receive literature to distribute among their churches. After one distribution, a contact reported, “[The pastors] loaded their riches and drove away with big smiles and shouts of ‘Many blessings!’ ”
With supporters’ help, we are also responding to the huge need for physical nourishment in this country by providing food items to needy people in Venezuela and surrounding countries.
Venezuela’s future is uncertain. Will the economy improve, inviting more Venezuelans back to their homeland? Or will inflation and government instabilities push the country deeper into poverty? A CAM contact says, “Only God knows what the future holds. What we do know is that there is at present a strong spiritual hunger . . .” We long to help satisfy this spiritual hunger and share the Bread of Life with the people of Venezuela. If you would like to help, your support will provide Christian literature, food, and other aid. May God richly bless you!