Go Ye into All the World : God at Work in Venezuela

Stormy wind fulfilling His word (Psalm 148:8)

Jonah furnishes an illustration. Will he not go to Nineveh? A stormy wind responds, and God’s will is promptly done. Jonah did go to Nineveh with God’s message, but he was a changed man. A sleeping saint had learned to pray and preach and watch. No preacher ever saw more immediate and total repentance in his audience! Additionally, the ungodly sailors on the boat “feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord.” The stormy wind accomplished more than Jonah on his own … in less time!

A few millennia have gone by and the Lord carries on His vast work, now visiting the Gentiles to take out a people for His name. Unlike Jonah, we live in the full blaze of the Gospel of the grace of God, privileged to be fellow-workers with the truth. Our failures and limitations are many, but God knows none, and varied stormy winds, plus countless other agents, still fulfill His word.

Heart Breaking Tragedy

Two well-loved and useful families were plunged into grief last July. Joel Vargas and his wife Ingrid from the San Carlos assembly were traveling with Suhayla Badillo (from the San Cristobal assembly), when a violent collision with a bus caused the immediate death of Joel and Suhayla, leaving Ingrid quite unhurt, but now a widow responsible for three young children. Such things raise many questions, and the answers must await the hereafter, but by this means many heard the gospel faithfully preached for the first time in the two funerals. Afterwards, when both assemblies held gospel meetings, some who had been indifferent were saved, and God is still working.

Suhayla’s parents, Hermes and Mara, were awakened when their firstborn died of leukemia at the age of eight. The boy was saved in Sunday school, and his bright witness, even when so sick, was used of God in their conversion. Exemplary in putting the assembly and the Lord’s work first, their grief has not hindered their continued involvement in the recent outreach to Peru. When we worked in Guasdualito (Venezuela), the nearest assembly for 4 years was San Cristbal (200 km away). Most Sundays found us there with a vanload of new believers, and the Badillos showed us unfailing kindness and hospitality.

Being a business man in a border area endangers Hermes’ family. The recent kidnapping of Suhayla’s uncle by a terrorist group was an all too real reminder. He was not saved, and nightly prayer meetings were held during his captivity. His release a few days ago was joyful news. Another of God’s stormy winds had accomplished what Suhayla’s death did not. Orlando had cried to God for salvation. God answered his cry and Orlando returned a changed man.

God working in Guasdualito

In this town, where a new assembly was planted last October, a young couple can thank God for a flood that forced them to leave their shack three years ago. We first met them and their five children in a gymnasium where they had found refuge with other families. This led to a children’s meeting in the gym, with adults listening in. Later Hernan and Nelly were saved and baptized. Their yard now hosts one of the four children‘s meetings in different areas of town. Many families have been reached this way. The enemy has been busy, and rumors of abducted children made parents nervous. This resulted in classes being suspended for many weeks. The classes have recommenced this year, so please pray for this work, where over 300 children were hearing the gospel weekly.

Stormy winds have awakened others:

Emrita Palacios lost her 13 year-old son and had another badly injured in an accident. In her sorrow and despair, thoughts of taking her own life made her realize her sinfulness, and she turned to Christ for rest.

The accidental drowning of a two-year-old nephew on her farm brought Emrita Varela to Christ.

Yuraima fell to her knees before God in the early hours of the morning. She had long been troubled, but that night sleep fled as she faced eternity. Etched on her mind was the sight of her friend Marcos’ bullet- ridden body, shot in his hotdog stall down our street. She dared not wait to trust the Savior.

Life changed for Don Vicente when an only son he was expecting home for Christmas never arrived. Days later, he discovered that his son had been robbed and shot while leaving Caracas. He readily accepted the gospel when he heard it two years later in the weekly meetings for the elderly in a town day-care center.

These all face difficult home situations and need prayer.

South winds, too.

But does God not use other, more congenial winds? Look at Saul, making havoc of the church. What is gained? “They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word!” Then God saves that ravening wolf, and “the churches had rest and were edified.”

Miss Fanny Goff, called home early on December 1st from the Gospel Home in Puerto Cabello, comes to mind. Her long and fruitful service in the Gospel School touched many young lives for eternity and has encouraged other sisters dedicated to teaching the Bible to children in the five Gospel Schools that now function in the country. The well known words,

“I love Thee for wearing
the thorns on Thy brow,
‘Tis Thou Who art worthy,
Lord Jesus, ‘tis Thou!”

were often on her lips at the last, though distressed due to difficult breathing. What spices flowed from that garden on which the harsh north and the soft south wind blew so long!

Venezuela’s future is unknown to us, though political and economic storm clouds are gathering. We rest assured that a “Peace be still” from the Lord turns a great storm into a great calm! Pray that the assemblies may be kept in Scriptural separation, not “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14), but “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phi 1:27).