Caring for Lutherans in Crisis
The LCMS is working with partners in Latin America to care for Venezuelan Lutherans.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).
“I am an oncology patient and also am diabetic,” said Mercedes, who attends a Lutheran church in northeastern Venezuela. “I have no source of income other than my social security pension, which is not enough to buy both food and medicine.”
Right now in Venezuela, millions of people like Mercedes and other members of the Lutheran Church of Venezuela are being impacted by the unprecedented humanitarian crisis plaguing their country. In 2017, many Venezuelan families were already experiencing extreme poverty (defined as an inability to meet basic food needs), and the situation has only grown more extreme since then.
“Everyone is hungry now, and mums and dads have to stop eating so they can feed their children,” reported a 14-year-old Venezuelan girl in an interview aired by the BBC in February.
As malnutrition escalates, so does sickness. Diseases formerly considered preventable, easily managed or even eradicated now run rampant in a country where hospitals are not receiving the basic supplies and medicines they need to operate.
Responding to these dire needs, a partnership between Lutheran church bodies is bringing relief to people in Venezuela.
After hearing firsthand stories about the current situation from Venezuelan refugees, the leaders of the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile worked through the Venezuelan government’s stringent regulations and began sending medications to their brothers and sisters in Christ nearly 3,000 miles away.
In July 2018, LCMS World Relief and Human Care Disaster Response provided a grant of $9,500 to the Chilean church to help send even more medications.
Following the arrival of the most recent shipment, Lutheran congregations in Venezuela were able to distribute medicine to 630 people. Most of these medications — all of which come from a government-approved list of drugs that can legally be brought into the country — went to help people manage chronic, life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy and dementia.
One person who benefited was a man who has been struggling with an infection after a failed surgery to rebuild his digestive tract in November 2017. “Thanks to you, he received colostomy bags with their bases, adhesives and gauze in this shipment, and now he can even walk to the church for services,” said the man’s sister-in-law.
Mercedes was also able to receive the medications her doctor prescribed for her treatment, and she wasn’t forced to choose between them and the food she needs to live.
“My brethren, I pray to God for you,” Mercedes said. “I do not have the words to express my appreciation.”
‘Where Needed Most’
Your prayers and contributions make possible acts of life-saving mercy like these. Each “where needed most” donation supports action when unexpected opportunities to bear mercy and share the love of Christ arise.
In addition to this grant, the Synod’s mission team in the Latin America region is planning ongoing ministry efforts that will expand the medication program, while also providing pastoral care and other assistance to Venezuelans who are struggling during their country’s economic crisis.
- About work in Venezuela: lcms.org/venezuela
- Support disaster-recovery efforts: lcms.org/givenow/disaster
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