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VENEZUELA MINISTRY UPDATE – COVID-19 CRISIS

If you live in the U.S. and have filled your car up lately, chances are that you have seen gas prices at a new low. 

Due to the Coronavirus crisis and over-production in the worldwide oil market, the price for gasoline in the U.S. is at the lowest it has been in years. 

That is not the case for Venezuela, whose gas price went from the lowest in the world to an impossible commodity that requires U.S. dollars to buy. 

For years, Venezuela has had its gasoline subsidized by its state oil company, PDVSA. For what you pay to buy an egg in Venezuela, you could buy 90 million liters (over 23 million gallons) of 95 octane gasoline. The socialist Venezuelan government led by Nicolas Maduro has irresponsibly allowed gasoline subsidies to continue in spite of rocketing inflation. PDVSA, which has a legal monopoly on fuel sales, was basically selling gas for pocket change.

Venezuela’s 1.3 million barrel-per-day oil refining network has all but collapsed. Furthermore, U.S. sanctions aimed at ousting Maduro have complicated fuel imports, which were Maduro’s source of gas for the last few months. 

The current Coronavirus crisis has given Maduro the perfect excuse to limit gasoline exclusively to government and military personnel.  

Venezuelans are now contending with unprecedented fuel shortages, which have forced people to walk miles to work, left crops rotting in the fields, or turn to a military-controlled market to buy gas at an exorbitant price. Black market dealers are offering to deliver 20 liters of gasoline for $50 ($9.46 per gallon) in a country where the minimum wage is currently at Bs. 800.000 monthly, which at the current exchange rate equals $4.60 monthly.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR MINISTRY? 

This situation presents an unprecedented challenge for our ministry. 

Fortunately, the local church has been the backbone of our ministry since our early beginnings in Venezuela. Our success lies in the development and growth of the local body of believers, making disciples and encouraging one another as we all seek to reach the Wayuu people with the Gospel. The message we hear from our Venezuelan brothers and sisters is very encouraging. They are determined to continue to serve their communities despite the present limitation and challenges. The literacy groups continue to impact the lives of hundreds of children who daily rely on the support of their teachers to get the education they need and a nutritious meal, along with the hope of the Gospel. 

Darwin Lopez, one of our ministry partners, is a missionary in Maracaibo who was sent to plant a church among an unreached Wayuu community in South Maracaibo. Darwin and his wife Denyire are some of the most dedicated people we know when it comes to reaching the Wayuu. They visit the community of Zamurpana regularly, where they spend days teaching several Wayuu families the Gospel. They also have a literacy group that teaches reading and writing in Spanish and Wayuunaiki to the community’s children. 

Since the COVID-19 crisis started, they have struggled to find transportation to get to this remote community, but for Darwin and his family, there are no limitations to continue their calling to serve the Wayuu in Zamurpana. 

Every week, Darwin, Denyire, and their four little girls jump into their “carrula” (a homemade bicycle wagon) and travel almost 9 miles from their home to Zamurpana to make sure the Wayuu are able to hear the message of the Gospel. 

The situation in Venezuela may be difficult, but just like Darwin, our church partners and local staff in Venezuela are committed to continuing to bring the Gospel to unreached Wayuu communities. 

Now, more than ever, our Wayuu brothers and sisters in Venezuela need our support. 

Please, continue to pray for our staff and church partners in Venezuela, and consider supporting us financially to ensure the Wayuu people in Venezuela hears the Gospel. 

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