Venezuelan report, May/22
In 2018 soon after my wife Pam passed away, I was asked to serve in Venezuela, leading a humanitarian relief operation. Venezuela suffered a social and economic collapse, and millions of refugees fled. My assignment was to support providing food to Venezuelan refugees at the Colombian border, bring humanitarian assistance into Venezuela, support a prison ministry and develop an agriculture relief project.
At that time, the authorities of Venezuela had forbidden the import of humanitarian assistance. However, with the support of a courageous relief team, sympathetic government officials, gangs and militia, we started to use back mountain trails to deliver food assistance, Bibles, medical, and agricultural supplies into Venezuela. One day, during one of our "smuggling" operations, several people were murdered in a crossfire. I shivered to think that we would also have been caught in the crossfire if we had delayed our passing by a few hours. Utilizing a local church as our operational base, we built a greenhouse capable of producing thousands of seedlings and fruit trees which we donated to schools and communities. The idea was to assist communities in becoming self-sufficient.
The concept of self-sustainability took off. The Association Patmos Venezuela was created and introduced the idea to the Venezuelan prison system. As result, we have employed dozens of inmates and supported planting acres of vegetable and seed gardens across Venezuelan prisons. We have also put together a team of pastors who support 39 prison churches with approximately 15,000 attendees. Venezuelan prison authorities, gangs that control the prisons, the army and the militia leadership, became very supportive of our efforts, some even turning to Christianity. Faith is always an option for those on the path of uncertainty.
For the last 30 years, my family and I have set our base in Costa Rica. While travelling and giving humanitarian assistance, my wife Pam stayed at home supporting my efforts and homeschooling our two children. My son, Jonathan (27), became a successful pianist and, at an early age, was able to travel across North America and Europe performing and eventually ended up in Russia, where he completed his under and post-graduate education at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Jonathan is currently a professor in a Christian college and the producer of theriverworship.ca. Jonathan's worship music production reaches thousands of youths, and I was amazed and honoured to see that even young people in Ukraine follow this music ministry. My daughter, Andrea (26), is a web designer that is specializing in making the web more accessible for people with disabilities. Last year we hiked together on the Mont Blanc and the Rhine trail. After completing her undergraduate education, she travelled with me to support my work in Venezuela. In this blog, you can read some of her experiences. She is now married and living in the Netherlands, completing her education at The Hage University. In July, I intend to take a break from Ukraine and attend her wedding celebration. I used to perform as a clown during her birthdays, and she has asked me to show up at her wedding celebration in my clown outfit. I am looking forward to it.
Below is a slide show of our Venezuelan ministry.