Before the pandemic ever hit, Venezuela was already facing an urgent crisis.
Due to ongoing economic and political unrest, 5,000 people were fleeing the nation on a daily basis, choosing to brave extreme weather and homelessness rather than keep their children in imminent danger.
After COVID-19 descended, the migration crisis exponentially worsened.
Borders began closing and the challenges of protecting and caring well for entire families increased. Police started finding the remains of families who tried to make the treacherous trek across the Andes Mountains despite these new difficulties, with over 30 bodies—including children’s—having been discovered so far. Experts are estimating that, at the current rate, the number of Venezuelan refugees could rise to over 7 million in this year alone.
On top of this tragedy, many migrants who did succeed in making the journey to their new homes quickly found that their life savings—which most sold all of their earthly possessions to obtain—were astronomically devalued in other countries. Many end up living on the streets for months before finding a job, legitimate or otherwise, that pays enough to keep their families consistently fed.
In response to this heartbreaking situation, Southern Baptists used Global Hunger Relief funds to establish a ministry at a three-story mission house in the Colombian borderlands which has been successfully operating for over a year now. One leader explained the services, “[Apart from some of the only nourishing, hot meals they will receive on their trek,] we offer showers to weary travelers who have not had an opportunity to bathe in days, washing machines for the few clothes carried with them, children’s activities, clean drinking water, on-site medical care, a listening ear and—most importantly—prayer and a Gospel presentation.”
Because of the diligence of staff in having these Gospel conversations with families, over 50,000 Venezuelan refugees have heard about the love of Jesus through this project, with nearly 17,500 committing their lives to Christ!
A doctor has also been consistently present at the mission since it was built, often seeing 100 patients per day, and medical and dental clinics are regularly held.
“The walkers”, as they are referred to in South America, are given valuable information about what to expect and what they will need to navigate the remainder of their journey. For those waiting for papers or the appropriate equipment to continue their migration, Global Hunger Relief funds are being used to distribute 200-300 meals every day, along with fresh water. In total thus far, nearly 30,000 people have received desperately needed food!
Your gifts to Global Hunger Relief are making a difference around the world. You can help more hurting families like these by continuing to pray for their safety as they journey onwards and by giving here.
Published March 5, 2021