Colombia and Venezuela

Summer 2017
Written by Edward & Ruth Smith - Colombia

Thank you for your prayers as we settle into Colombia. Only the Lord knows for how long. Our last visit here was a year ago, so all are asking for a visit.

We have slowed down a lot and have learned to leave all in the Lords' hands. This last year Ruth wasn't well for several months and I with the shakes, which has now been diagnosed as Parkinson disease. We had to have the motor in our vehicle there in Venezuela repaired twice, so we were without a vehicle for several months. We have also been busy re-organizing and finishing off the apartment we have been building in Yaracal, a large town on the main highway eleven kilometers from El Mene, where we have lived since arriving in Venezuela in 2002. We finally made a move on the 27th of February with the help of various ones from the two nearby assemblies.

We miss the believers, and the work in El Mene, as well as the School, work there. Please pray for the ongoing school work, as the Government has made many changes but we praise God for continued liberty to teach the Word. Remember the teachers that the Lord will supply their needs.The twelve staff are volunteers, looking to the Lord for their needs. Fernelis, our daughter got married in August/ September last year. The civil ceremony was in the Hall in El Mene, then a few weeks later the ceremony in the Hall in Merida. That way all could attend in one place or the other. She now lives in Merida some fourteen hours from where we live. We miss her a lot as she was our constant companion and helper. Such is life. Alberto, her husband, is a barber and has plenty of contacts where they live.

The Lord opened the way for us to come to Sincelejo the week before the Easter conference. The border is still closed to traffic, so we took a vehicle to near the Venezuelan Border and while we took a motor bike the short distance, the vehicle went via a back track, and then he met us on the Colombian side where we had stamped our passports and then to the bus station in the nearby Colombian town of Maicao. There we took a modern bus, and after being held up for five hours with a strike by school teachers, we finally arrived in Barranquilla at 8.30pm where one of the brethren met us. The bed was a good place that night. We had started the day at 2 am.

This brother in Barranquilla cares for our car while we are in Venezuela, so we then had a vehicle to travel in. Petrol is very dear here as are the road tolls. Actually, it is cheaper to travel by bus but not as convenient. While in Sincelejo we are receiving massage treatment for our backs which have caused us much pain and limited us in our movements. This doctor has treated us previously with good results, so we pray to that end now.

Edward & Ruth Smith, Willians Alcala Paul & Daphne Chapman in Vancouver for funeral of Neal & Alice Thomson.

The work continues well in all parts. We helped in the annual conference at Sincelejo with some 200 believers attending from some 13 assemblies or preaching points plus eight believers from Venezuela. There were five fulltime workers who helped with the ministry, Bible studies and the preaching of the gospel. Gelson Villegas (Venezuela), Jose Gregorio Yepes (Venezuelan serving in Cartagena), Jose Luis Batioja (Venezuelan serving in Cali), Fermin Gomez who serves the Lord in these parts and me. Several other brethren also shared with the Word. On the Saturday evening, a brother was baptized, and Sunday received into the fellowship of the assembly. We praise God for the blessing.

Jose Gregorio and Angelina Yepes and family.

The work here in the north-west of Colombia is growing with assemblies established in Sincelejo, Caucasia, Macajan, La Sierpe, Los Manguitos, Barranquilla and Cartagena and outreach works in Chinu, El Tesoro, Puerto Santo, Cali, Medellin, Santa Martha and Valledupar. Still, there are many cities and towns in this north-west part of the country where the gospel has never been sounded forth. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will raise up labourers while it is still the accepted time.

Recently we were in El Tesoro where the work mainly consists of one family. The father had open heart surgery a little time ago and now has to have bi-weekly therapy for nearly four months. This family is very poor but trusting the Lord for their needs. We were also with the saints in Caucasia one weekend. There are just over forty in fellowship, and they are active in the spread of the gospel.

The assembly in Cartagena, along with several visiting believers continue with the construction of a small hall. At present they meet in the small rented house of the full-time workers, Jose Gregorio and Angelina Yepes. The gospel meeting and Sunday School have to be held in the street because of lack of room inside. Long term plans are to build a house next door to the hall. The work has grown there over the last three years.

We also visited the small assembly in Macajan near to where I was kidnapped seventeen years ago. They struggle on in their testimony for the Lord.

Little did we expect to visit Canada at this time, but with the home-call of Alice and then Neal Thomson we felt the leading of the Lord to be present at their funerals. Only the Lord knows the extent of their service for Himself over a combined one hundred and twenty-four years in Australia, Venezuela, and Colombia. What an example for us.

Venezuela is passing through very troubled times with many dead, injured or detained because of the manifestations and marches against the present government. Thankfully we still have complete liberty to gather and to sound forth the gospel. There were two simultaneous conferences in Venezuela over Easter with 1800 and 805 believers attending. So there is still hunger for the Word of God. Thank you for your prayers as we seek to continue in service for our Lord.

Summer 2017
Written by Edward & Ruth Smith - Colombia