Venezuela: protests increasing, food and medicine dwindling

Venezuela (MNN) — A helicopter grenade and gunfire attack on the Venezuelan Supreme Court in session last week got the attention of both the president and protestors, but was largely ineffective. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called it a terrorist attack, and some speculate whether the attack will be used to justify his grab for more power amidst a failing economy.

Protester in Venezuela, May 2017. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Currently, President Maduro is pushing to rewrite the Constitution in Venezuela — something that has been a contributing factor to the vehement protests which have flooded the streets and turned violent. At least 76 people have been killed since the start of the unrest three months ago. The failing economy and dwindling food and provisions have also contributed to national angst.

Trans World Radio broadcasts Christian radio programming into Venezuela and has ministry workers in-country. Jim Munger with Trans World Radio explains some of the contributing factors that led to the current economic state.

“Venezuela is a country that has depended on oil primarily for its income, so the price of petroleum rising and falling has a tremendous impact on what the government is able to do. Recently, in the last couple of years, the decrease in the oil price has meant a reduction in the revenue the government has to work with, so the social projects they had hoped to carry out are not being funded. And then other measures have been taken to control currencies and fixing prices on basic commodities, and the net result has been to cause the businesses to close down because they can’t continue to be in business. They can’t afford it.

(Photo courtesy of Christian Aid Mission)

“There’s been a lack of basic food and medicine. The number of people dying even in hospitals has risen tremendously. People cannot get basic food items. And then there have been demonstrations for months. Just a couple of days ago before this incident with the helicopter, there was rioting and looting in the city of Maracay about an hour and a half drive west of Caracas, and this has meant the whole city has come to a halt.”

Munger says they’ve heard back from one of their ministry members in Venezuela on the impact of the current unrest. “He said that the situation is extremely critical and that what’s coming out in the news media is not telling the whole story. They’re practically isolated…. Then he said the few businesses that have not been looted have nothing left to sell. And those who can walk go to buy things walking because there’s no transportation. So they have to stand in long lines. He said that he waited in line to buy some meat and when he got there, there was nothing left.

“Now how this affects ministry is, first of all, they can only do the errands in the morning because in the afternoon the demonstrations begin and violence and so forth, and it’s not even safe in your own home. One family that I know personally had a tear gas bomb thrown into their house by the police. So it’s just a very, very unstable time.”

Travel limitations and intermittent curfews have made gatherings more restricted as well, including for churches. But in a time when families and communities feel anxious, the Body of Christ in Venezuela is persisting to share the comfort of Christ.

“There are more opportunities to reach out with the Gospel because people realize that there has got to be something more.”

Munger says the current situation has also added gravity to TWR’s Gospel mission in the country. “In the midst of it, Trans World Radio is broadcasting from the island of Bonaire just off the coast. It’s a Dutch island, so it’s not involved in the issues there in Venezuela. But we’re able to broadcast with a 100,000 watt AM station that can be heard all up and down the coast of Venezuela and we can broadcast the Gospel there and provide hope in the midst of a country that is sinking into just a desperate situation.”

In moments like this when outside contact and support is limited for a country in turmoil, it can be hard to know how to help. But there are a few things you can do to encourage the Church and the people of Venezuela.

“I think the most important thing is, first, to pray. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela that, first of all, they would have peace in their own hearts knowing that God is in control. Even though everything appears to be spinning out of control, God has His purposes,” encourages Munger.

“On the other hand, not all believers are united in what they think about this [unrest] and what they think the solution is. For years, the Evangelical Church has been divided — some have been in favor of the government, some have been against the government. So I think we need to pray that God would bring unity to the Body of Christ.”

(Image courtesy of Trans World Radio)

And as ministries like Trans World Radio seek to spread the Gospel in Venezuela, they need the support of the global Church both prayerfully and financially. Munger reports that Trans World Radio is “in the process of increasing the power of our transmitter from 100,000 watts to 450,000 watts on the AM band, and that will give us a much more powerful signal into Venezuela so the Gospel and its implications can be blanketing the country. That is a process that does need funding, so that is one of the areas that people can help.”

Click here to give to TWR’s Bonaire Power Up Project! In doing so, you are directly advancing the spread of God’s truth and hope into Venezuela.

“We should be trusting God for what He’s doing in Venezuela and around the world, and then we need to be praying that God would be lifted up as He carries out His purposes.”