Venezuelan Refugees: Ipiales, Colombia

Thousands of Venezuelans arrive in Ipiales each day. Having fled the hunger and violence in their home country, they hope to find stability in Ecuador or in another South American country. Without enough shelters in the city, refugees are forced to sleep in parks or on sidewalks.

Long before the Venezuela crisis, an Alliance church was planted in Ipiales. With deep compassion, the church began providing immediate relief, opening their homes to displaced families. Soon Pastor Luis Giovany Castillo and the congregants began to dream of opening an official shelter in their city.

They envisioned a place where families could stay up to five days and receive food and a good night’s sleep. Guests would have access to showers, washing machines, the internet, and legal advice. The pastor and volunteers would have an opportunity to talk with these refugees about God’s steadfast love.

With a bit of CAMA’s guidance, your generous gifts, and official government approval, La Alianza por el Prójimo (Neighbor’s Alliance) opened on January 18, 2020.

Hope Offered in Grief

Sixteen-year-old Carioli, her boyfriend, and their one-year-old daughter were some of the first to arrive. They ate, took a shower, washed their clothes, and sat down at one of the computers to check in with their families. Seconds after logging on, Carioli received a message from a family member saying that her father had been killed in Venezuela that day. Carioli broke down in tears sitting at the shelter’s computer table.

The pastor and a group of volunteers immediately came around her, listened to her story, and prayed with her and her family. The pastor also shared of the hope found in Jesus. Before Carioli left to continue her migrant journey, she put her trust in Jesus as her Savior.

Will you pray that other believers and churches will open their hearts to Carioli and her small family as they continue their journey? She has experienced an enormous amount of trauma and grief for a 16-year-old. But isn’t it amazing to see how God opened the shelter just in time for Carioli’s arrival?

Please be praying for Venezuelans. Both refugees and those that remain in their country are very vulnerable. We praise God for churches that have stepped up in love around the world, and we continue to hear reports that more refugees have accepted Christ, and the beds are often full. Thank you for partnering in this life-giving project. We know God has more in store for these at-risk people.

Alliance Women has a goal to raise $32,000 for the CAMA Venezuelan Refugee Relief project. Give today. 

Venezuela Refugees: Bogotá, Colombia

After years of worsening economic conditions and increasing violence, millions of Venezuelans have had to make the difficult decision to leave their home country and seek refuge elsewhere. Today, more than four million Venezuelans have fled their home country, with most of them living in Colombia. CAMA has been partnering with the Colombian Alliance in several locations, including a shelter in Ipiales, medical work in Armenia, and a food program in the capital city of Bogotá, where Virna and Luisa’s families have sought refuge.

Virna 

Virna arrived in Bogotá with her youngest daughter and eight-year-old grandson. They made the journey on foot, which took them a year. When she arrived in Bogotá, her shoes were so worn that they were literally being held together by threads. They had the clothes they had worn, and nothing more. Virna’s oldest daughter was already there, so they moved in with her into an apartment which was just nine square meters shared with 15 other people.

Virna had heard about the Lord in Venezuela but hadn’t been connected with believers in a long time. Now in Bogotá, she heard about Betel Alliance Church and was greeted warmly by the pastors and community there.

Virna found she could almost make ends meet by selling hamburger patties on the street, but that barely covered rent. In partnership with CAMA, Betel Alliance Church started offering a meals program for refugees, which came at just the right time, as her daughter and grandson were badly malnourished.

After experiencing love through Betel’s food program, Virna felt convicted to give back. She made the decision to volunteer herself in the dining room. “For many, a plate of food must seem like very little,” Virna said. “But for people who start from scratch in a country, it is a lot—even more so when accompanied with a message of hope.

“My service in the dining room has filled me with deep joy, seeing my brethren come to not only feed their bodies but their spirits with the words of encouragement that God continually places in the hearts of our pastors and volunteers. Today, we live in a better place with a bathroom and a kitchen, and I have been able to grow in the knowledge of the Word through the church.”

Luisa

Luisa was a nutritionist in her home in Venezuela. She arrived in Bogotá with her husband and seven other family members, including her mother and grandmother. They arrived with a small amount of money, which they used to set up a street cart to sell cell phone accessories.

Luisa decided to search for a church in Bogotá because someone in Venezuela had shared the gospel with her. She became connected with Betel Alliance and instantly began to feel like she was at “home.” She started taking membership classes in the church and inviting other refugees.

Luisa was burdened for the needs of her fellow Venezuelans and began working with the dining room ministry and advocating on behalf of the refugees. One of the great joys of this dining room ministry has been seeing how those most in need are encouraged and empowered, so that they are able to give back with compassion to their community.

Luisa arranged a missions trip back into Venezuela to take supplies and evangelical materials through the outreach department at Betel. This trip resulted in aid being sent into prisons and hospitals in Venezuela.

Luisa has since set up an informal employment network, assisting new refugees in finding safe and healthy ways to work in Bogotá, while continuing to work to make sure that her fellow countrymen have food security and a church connection in their new home.

Alliance Women is seeking prayer and financial support for this project. GIVE today.