Go Ye Into all the World: Venezuela

Venezuela is a country blessed by God in many ways. Its natural beauty ranges from the majestic Andes mountains to the vast cattle grazing plains, the pristine Amazon rain forest with its 17 different primitive Indian tribes to the beautiful Caribbean coastline. It is blessed with many natural resources, not least of which are its large oil fields. The people are openhearted and friendly in attitude. But above all, the message of the gospel reached its shores toward the end of the 19th century, and God has blessed His work in a remarkable way.

We honor the memory of faithful men whom God sent to preach the gospel, and who planted assemblies according to the New Testament pattern. Their methods were simple but Scriptural, and so they built into the work a stability that has left those of us who have entered into their labors a rich legacy.

The population has now reached 28 million. Over half is located in the industrial belt from the center-north to the north-west, and this is where 71% of the existing 160 assemblies are located. The rest are scattered all over the states of the interior, often many miles apart. There are many cities and large towns still untouched by assembly workers. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” (Mat 9:38).

National workers outnumber missionaries from abroad, and they are also to the fore in taking the gospel to the furthest reaches of the country, to Colombia, and more recently to Peru. We commend to your prayers the 15 national workers and 11 missionary couples (seven from Northern Ireland and three from Australia). Many believers engaged in secular employment are active in spreading the gospel. Indeed, most assemblies have a few series of gospel meetings each year without the help of commended workers, the local brethren sharing in the preaching of the gospel. Over half of the assemblies have been formed in the last 30 years, many as the result of the consistent labor over many years of the local assemblies in the suburbs of their area and in neighboring towns.

Work among children has been an important asset to the work, and the Venezuelan believers are enthusiastic in reaching them with the gospel, with most assemblies carrying on several Sunday schools. Emphasis is placed on teaching God’s Word. Many assemblies trace their beginnings to this work.

For the past nine years we have worked extensively in the valley of Manuare, a poor rural region about two hours drive from our home. Two brethren from the assembly in Guigue, visiting the area to distribute tracts, reached Juaniquero, a village of about forty homes. The people were receptive and after returning several times, they asked me to help with gospel meetings. Many from the village came to listen to the gospel, a new message to them, and God worked in the hearts of a few and saved them by His grace. Prejudice was broken down when they saw the efforts made by the Christians to reach them, often traveling on rough, muddy, mountainous roads, on occasions having to cross a swollen river by holding on to a rope. We have reached out to other villages nearby, and meetings have been held in Santa Rosa, Pe�as Negras, Las Piedras, and Barbasco. In this last place God worked in a remarkable way. Meetings were held in a tent and as word spread around the area, people from other villages started asking if they could come. For almost two hours before each meeting, two vans traveled back and forth bringing people to hear the gospel. What a joy it was to preach to over one hundred nightly and see a few saved. This experience was repeated the following year, but sad to say, it is now difficult to get more than twenty unsaved adults to attend. In 2002 a permanent hall was built in Juaniquero and in 2005 we had the privilege of sitting down with seventeen dear believers to remember the Lord for the first time. God has blessed the small assembly in its efforts to reach others. The saints carry on a Sunday school in Barbasco, where they have purchased a plot of ground to place a portable hall in the near future, Lord willing.

We have also labored in Achaguas to the south in the state of Apure. The work commenced in 1996 when a brother from San Fernando spent a few weeks there due to employment and preached the gospel. We have been privileged to share with them in the work since then, and though it has proved to be hard ground, a few were saved over the years. Last year a portable hall was erected as a meeting place for the few believers. The gospel was preached for four weeks and we were encouraged by the attendance of the unsaved. A large number of children attended so we started children’s meetings in the afternoon. We returned a few months later for another effort and the interest was also good among adults and children. The brethren from San Fernando have continued preaching every Wednesday and also have a children’s meeting on Saturday afternoon and a gospel meeting at night.

For over twenty years my father has distributed Spanish Bibles and books among the assemblies, a work started by Mr. Edward Fairfield, and latterly we’ve become involved in this work. Sound literature is sourced from North America and Europe, our hymnbook and tracts are printed locally. Mr. Don Alves has done an invaluable service in revising the Spanish edition of the Ritchie commentaries, “What the Bible Teaches.” Six volumes are now available, and the seventh should be printed by the end of this year. These have proved to be a tremendous blessing to the saints and have contributed to their spiritual growth. A book on assembly truths written by Venezuelan brethren called El Lugar de su Nombre (The Place of His Name) has also proved a great blessing, and one assembly was formed as a result of believers in a rural area reading it. We will gladly forward these books to Spanish-speaking assemblies anywhere. Contact samuelsharonussher@yahoo.com.

We earnestly request the prayers of the Lord’s people for the preservation of the work, His blessing upon it, and that He will send forth laborers.