Many caring believers inquire regarding the current state of affairs in Venezuela and how it affects the work of the Lord and the believers. The media reports that many things are scarce, and people stand for hours in long lines in order to buy basic food items and everyday necessities, giving the impression that most people are finding it difficult to get enough food. This is not totally accurate.
Inflation is running at over 60%, which means that prices continually rise. In order to lessen the impact on the population, the government has regulated the price of basic foods such as milk, flour, sugar, rice, and essential toiletries, but the price they have set hardly covers production costs, so manufacturers produce small quantities. When the items become available in the shops, many stand in line to buy them, and in many cases they resell them at 3 or 4 times the price. The price of fruit, vegetables, and many other foods is not regulated, so these things are available at the market value; so there is food available, at a price.
There is no doubt the economy is in difficulties, and the country doesn’t have sufficient cash flow to cover the necessary importation of raw materials for industry and commerce to function. As a result, it has become difficult to find almost everything, from construction materials to parts for vehicle maintenance and household appliances. Though hard to believe, medicines are also scarce, and believers who need medical treatment or face medical emergencies often struggle to find the necessary medicines. Recently a young unsaved girl we know had orthopedic surgery delayed because the government hospital didn’t have suture material! It all makes life more complicated, as everything takes much longer to source. We are thankful to the Lord, however, that generally speaking, this has not affected the preaching of the gospel.
Scarcity does affect the Lord’s work in other areas. Currently a number of gospel halls are being built, and progress is slow because it is difficult to find cement and other items, and when found, they are expensive to buy. But the Owner of the Work has the resources for each circumstance He allows (Phil 4:19).
Another aspect of the work that is affected is the availability of Bibles, books, and tracts. All Bibles are imported and supply is limited, making them scarce and expensive. This gives us great concern. Paper is hard to find, so the printing of tracts and books for the believers is almost at a standstill. Please pray that this will change, so that God will be glorified by the spread of the gospel.
A noticeable increase during the last 10 years in spiritism and witchcraft (of different sorts) gives cause for concern. It is grieving to see this nation, so blessed by the gospel, turning to this great evil. The present hardships may well be the hand of God upon the nation, for many in high places practice these things. This dark spiritual atmosphere makes us aware that the spiritual conflict the Lord’s people are involved in is real, and Satan’s opposition to God is felt.
Maybe more than anything else, the increasing violence is affecting the progress of the work. Lawlessness is increasing; armed robberies occur in broad daylight, and have become so common that few families have not been affected by it. This is making it difficult for believers and non-believers to attend evening meetings, and road travel can be dangerous in some areas by night. A number of assemblies have had to reschedule their meetings to an earlier hour due to safety concerns; but then believers and unbelievers are not able to attend because they cannot get home from work in time. We earnestly ask that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim 2:1-4). The apostle wrote this in the context of preaching the gospel, because internal unrest militates against this work. We admire many believers who, with courage, go into many dangerous neighborhoods to carry on children’s work, gospel meetings, and tract distribution. They trust in the Lord, and He preserves them, though the danger is real.
The gospel is going forward and most assemblies continue to have a number of gospel series during the year, using local gift. The hardships have made people think of eternal matters, and unsaved people attend seeking answers from God’s Word. What a privilege it is to tell them of a bountiful God who is longing to forgive their debt of sin if only they will repent of their sins and turn to Him. The Savior, God’s Son, has paid redemption’s price, and through Him all can be saved. Salvation is available, without money and without price.
The door for the preaching of the gospel is still open wide, and we expect God to keep it open. We continue to pray the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2). Souls respond to the gospel and assemblies continue in faithfulness to God’s word, and we are thankful that the Lord gives us the privilege to share in this great blessing.
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2Thes 3:1-5).