Care for Venezuelans

The LCMS is bringing mercy and God’s Word to Venezuelans amid their country’s humanitarian crisis.

Once the most prosperous country in Latin America, Venezuela has been in an official state of economic and humanitarian crisis since 2010. By 2017, over 90% of households lived under the poverty line. The pandemic and other economic factors have only made matters worse, with the Venezuelan bolivar collapsing almost completely. As of 2021, nearly 70% of Venezuelan households were living in extreme poverty, according to the Humanitarian Data Exchange. Feeble signs of economic growth continue to be followed by further crashes.

For several years, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has been bringing mercy and God’s Word to the suffering people of Venezuela. This story from 2019 describes some of the work that was underway five years ago.

Since then, this work has only expanded, through the support of the LCMS. Last year, the LCMS gave grants toward:
Providing medications to Venezuelans who do not have access to them. Through the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile, an LCMS partner church, the LCMS Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is obtaining and transporting much-needed medications, such as for chronic disorders, into Venezuela. Access to medical operations is also being provided: A 10-year-old boy, the son of a Venezuelan Lutheran pastor, is suffering with muscular dystrophy and beginning to lose his motor skills. With the support of the LCMS, he will soon receive the treatment he needs. A set of 5-year-old twins born with hernias will soon receive the operation they need. A member of a congregation who suffered a brain injury is being transported to Brazil for treatment there. Over 900 people in Venezuela have benefited from this program according to President Eduardo Flores of the Lutheran Church of Venezuela (ILV), an LCMS partner church, who spoke at the Venezuela FORO in March 2024.
Providing care to Lutheran Venezuelan refugees who have fled the country to other parts of Latin America. Lutheran pastors are currently caring for Venezuelan refugees in Spain, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Chile and Peru. New requests keep coming in for spiritual care as Lutheran Venezuelan refugees resettle in many parts of Latin America.
Supporting pastors and church workers in Venezuela in a variety of mercy and ministry endeavors. Currently, there are 14 pastors in the ILV serving in 12 congregations and six missions in Venezuela. They also have 17 deaconesses and three Lutheran schools. Church planting is a major priority for the ILV: There have been three new churches planted just within the past year, served by missionary pastors. A property was purchased in December for a pastor who had been holding church services out of his garage. The Juan de Frias Bible Institute — which trains deaconesses to support the work of the church and prepares men to enter pastoral studies at the seminary in the Dominican Republic — is currently undergoing a project to open satellite campuses across Venezuela, to counteract soaring transportation costs and difficulties.

LCMS work in Venezuela long precedes the current humanitarian crisis. In fact, the strong legacy of LCMS mission work in Venezuela has laid the groundwork for this partner church with her own pastorate, Bible college and missionaries.

“We are seeing the fruit of those years of missions,” said the Rev. Herb Burch, an LCMS career missionary to Central and South America. “We are seeing the third and fourth generations that are growing up in Venezuela. These were seeds that were planted a long time ago. It takes a while for these seeds to grow. We have a long history as the Lutheran church of planting churches and showing mercy and sharing the Gospel. And as we continue to share the Gospel, they take up that work: The Lutheran Church of Venezuela has four missionaries serving elsewhere in the LAC and Eurasia regions, working to plant more churches in the Spanish-speaking world. And although they have their difficulties in Venezuela now, they continue to grow.”

Despite many challenges in Venezuela today, our partner church continues to proclaim the Gospel and carry out the work of the church as before, and it is a joy to be able to walk alongside her.

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