Pray for Venezuela
Our church here in Vilhena has been praying for a Brazilian missionary family in Venezuela (Pastor Aguinaldo and Rita Ferreira). Although we knew the situation there was bad, it seems as though the situation is getting quite bit worse. This week I called them to find out exactly how bad the situation is. Here is what I was told…
An average person makes about 5,000 Bolivars a week. That is equivalent to 5 American dollars a week. This makes things difficult enough. From the information I received, a carton of 30 eggs costs 4,000 Bolivars. That means you must work for four days to buy 30 eggs. Inflation is through the roof. Just imagine what it would be like to pay $4,000 for a carton of eggs. Just carrying that much money could be a problem. What if you were going to buy a weeks worth of groceries? Where would you keep the cash?
(The $4000 is just a comparison. If you carried $100 bills, then you would need 40 of them. The actual price of the carton of eggs is $4, but minimum wage is $5 a week.)
Their biggest problem is not money. The biggest problem of all is food shortages. People can wait hours and hours in a line to see if there is any food for them to buy. Then they can wait for hours to pay for the food they found. There are shortages of everything. Our Brazilian missionary friends said that they are eating mainly rice and eggs. They raise chickens, but are finding it harder and harder to feed the chickens.
Recent news articles are saying that eating three meals a day is a luxury. Most families are eating one meal a day. The government regulates all prices.
Other items like cleaning supplies, deodorant, medicine and other such basic items are not available. Thankfully, the Brazilian currency is stronger than the Bolivar making it easier for the missionaries on the financial side, but the shortages are affecting the rich, the poor, and everyone in the middle.
As far as we can tell, Pastor Aguinaldo and his family are in no immediate danger. They are happy to be where they are and have no intentions of leaving the country at the present moment. The country of Venezuela has been rated the second most violent country in the world when measuring on a homicide index. It is second only to Honduras.
That being said, some people around them have committed suicide because of the desperate situation that they are finding themselves in. Many stores are being looted and thieves are trying to provide for their own also. Lines are very dangerous! People start shoving and pushing. Many have been killed while waiting in line. Besides that, there is always a risk that the people will be arrested for one thing or another while waiting in line. The police and military seem to be on the lookout for opportunities to act and threaten the populous.
There is not much we can do other than pray. Our church is trying to keep a close eye on the situation from here in Brazil. We are sending a special offering this next week to help Pastor Aguinaldo and his family take a much needed trip to the Brazil border to get some supplies. They have been allowed to bring things back in without being searched, but they always run a risk. The government is confiscating many items. They open letters and mail to get anything out that might be valuable.
As I was talking to Rita, Pastor Aguinaldo’s wife, she said they have been providing bread and a drink at church. Many of the children coming to church look forward to getting a small piece of bread. However, she said, “Our flower is running very low. We cannot keep this up if we do not find more flower.”
It is not a crisis of terrorism, but many of God’s people are having a hard time there in Venezuela. Please pray for this family. They are serving the Lord with gladness. They have stayed in Venezuela because they have no other choice, but because they realize that people need to hear the Gospel message.
Though we say the greatest need is food shortages, there is no doubt that there is a greater need than that. There is a spiritual need that must be met. The love of God through Jesus Christ must still be proclaimed and this may be one of the best times to do it! Pray that God will work in lives and may many come to know Christ through the hardships that they face.