Summer 2019
Written by Paul and Daphne Chapman - VENEZUELA

When we arrived in Venezuela 24 years ago, we never for a moment thought that we would see the country in the condition that it is in today.

Just as well we have the Scriptures, that give us the understanding and knowledge that the 'last days' are exactly as the Apostle described. Difficult, dangerous and stressful times, caused by men who love themselves, money and pleasures, rather than God. Pride, disobedience, without natural affection and despisers of all that is good, are the norm of the day, from which we are to turn away.

Paul and Daphne Chapman

Although the crisis in Venezuela affects the whole country, conditions vary in the different states, so we will just speak of the state of Merida where we have lived for the past 14yrs. Because we are just over an hour's drive from the border with Colombia, the purchase of gasoline has been limited for several years, supposedly to control the contraband into Colombia. Since the beginning of this year, the situation has worsened considerably, due to the shutdown of two refineries from lack of maintenance, and the sanctions that have stopped the importation from other countries. I have not been able to fill at a service station since Easter, due to the danger of being in a line-up of cars for up to 6days to receive the allotted 40 lts. As with everything that becomes in short supply, those who are able to purchase, resell at a high price to those with the money and not prepared to waste days in a queue. We have become one of those, and have to pay cash in Colombian Pesos or USA dollars, a price superior to international prices. Quite ironic in a country that is supposed to have the largest resources of petroleum in the world! This, of course, has affected the work, as we are not able to travel as we would like, and public transport and delivery of products have been greatly reduced. We were able to travel the 10hrs to the Easter Conference in Valencia because believers along the way had gasoline stored for us. Only two vehicles were able to come to our bi-monthly ministry day in May, a diesel engine bus brought the believers from Merida, and a brother with a truck brought those from Valera, as diesel is more readily available. Our next need is for sufficient fuel to go to the Conference in Merida on the 6-7th July, so we trust in the Lord to provide, as He has never failed to meet the present need.

The constant cuts in the power supply, either from system failure or rationing, is also having serious effects in our part of the country. Besides the effects on production and businesses, the water treatment plants cease to function, causing even greater shortage of water. Some areas go for 3 - 4wks without receiving water, so we are thankful for the underground tanks at our house and the hall, to which the neighbours also come to fill their buckets. For security reasons we decided to hold the night meetings from 6 - 7pm, so everyone can be home before dark.

The migration of Venezuelans to other countries still continues, with last reports saying over 4million, or 10 percent of the population have been forced to leave because of the economic and social situation. Many assemblies have been affected, including El Vigia, where 2 couples and a sister have gone to other countries. The assembly commenced in January 2015, with 17 in fellowship, including 6 couples. Two of these have moved to Peru and Spain, another couple have stopped attending, two brethren passed away, and another fell into sin and moved to Colombia. Four have also been baptized and received into fellowship, and another five have moved here from other assemblies, so presently there are 16 in fellowship, including just two couples. Our concern is that the five brethren now here are young or inexperienced, so there is really no elders to guide and shepherd the flock. We purpose travelling to Australia in July for some months, so have to leave them in the Lord's hands, in middle of the very difficult circumstances.

We became personally aware of the pitiful situation in the hospitals here when Alberto became ill and we had to take him to the hospital. Not even a painkiller was available, as everything has to be purchased by the patient. I had to go in search of a syringe and test tube for them to do the blood tests, and then also find the injections required, but nevertheless, he went to be with the Lord during the night. We have heard of many other similar cases, and have also seen the Good Hand of the Lord in providing for the needs of His people in what seems like impossible situations humanly speaking. The lack of electricity, water, and medical supplies all make medical attention very uncertain and difficult.

Due to the hyperinflation and serious shortage of medicines and food items, we have found the need of helping the believers has become a very necessary part of our ministry. We are really just channels to pass on the financial help which is being sent from believers in other countries. With the help of responsible brethren from various assemblies in our area, we are able to provide a food parcel each month to 7 assemblies. Medical needs are also met, providing funds for the purchase of medication when available, and also for operations, examinations, funeral costs etc. Personal hygiene products are also provided on a regular bases, and when available at a reasonable price we have bought clothes and shoes. All these daily needs are received with grateful thanks, which the believers have asked us to pass on to everyone whose heart has been moved by the Lord to express this practical fellowship and brotherly love, to fellow saints who we will not meet unto that glorious day of reunion in the air with our wonderful Saviour and Lord.

Despite the difficulties and stresses of daily living, we give thanks to our God for the liberty we still enjoy to carry on the Work of God, in a country given over to Satanic activities and worship of evil men. The Lord has marvellously provided for the large national conferences held throughout the country, and our prayer is that his people will be preserved. Please pray for a peaceful outcome to an ever increasing delicate political situation, "Our God is Able".

Summer 2019
Written by Paul and Daphne Chapman - VENEZUELA