Darlene Coombs and family

Missionaries who were not Roman Catholic faced severe persecution when my husband, Edgar, and I arrived in Venezuela in June 1955 as the first Foursquare missionaries from the U.S. We joined Digma Estupinan, a young widow from Colombia whose husband, Odulio, had been killed in Venezuela for preaching the gospel.

Edgar and I experienced some of the same persecution when local zealots pelted us with rocks, protested our meetings and attempted to lynch us for praying for the sick. Still, we started a church in a large barrio where there was a lot of poverty. When people accepted Christ, the change was remarkable. No longer were their small incomes wasted on worldly living; instead, their money would go to their children and families. God blessed them with better jobs, nicer homes and better living conditions.

In San Cristobal, we outgrew our meeting place and needed property where we could build to accommodate the growing congregation. One evening, a lady came for prayer. She was seriously ill, and God healed her instantly. On her next visit to church, she was excited because she had a piece of property that would be perfect for the new building. It had been confiscated by the dictator government, but she believed if we prayed, she could get it back and give it to the Lord. God worked a miracle, and we built our church on a beautiful lot right on a main avenue in our city.

Our people were poor, and at first, they grumbled about not having enough money to build a church. We shared God’s promises in Scripture about how He would provide, and in time, they began to believe. With God’s blessing, we raised enough money to begin construction. He protected us from persecution, and many miracles were associated with building the church. People began noticing the work of God, and many eventually appreciated what we tried to accomplish for the Lord.

The location of our church became significant among locals, who began using our building as a landmark when providing directions. One day, as I listened to the radio, the announcers mentioned our church while describing the location for an upcoming event nearby. I thought God must have smiled; I know I did.

Throughout my 43 years of serving Christ, 11 of those in Venezuela, I still believe in the power of the gospel to save the lost. I still believe that Jesus has ultimate power, authority and truth, and that He transforms lives today just as He did in the villages and cities of Venezuela.

While living in the Andes Mountains, we encountered people who believed in the superstition they called “evil eye.” If someone had an ailment, such as a crossed eye, that person could give the “evil eye” to another person, who would then become ill. Many claimed the local witchdoctor could help minimize the curse, although everyone believed there was no cure for the “evil eye.”

Walking through the village with our little girls, I noticed residents at one house turning their little girl away and hiding her from view. One afternoon, when I was walking alone, I inquired why they hid the child. The parents showed me the little girl’s disfigured face and eye. They explained that they thought my girls were pretty. If their girl saw my girls, they were afraid she might give them the “evil eye.” They were trying to protect my girls from the curse.

I was able to explain the love of Jesus, and we witnessed often to this family. The little girl began to play with our girls and attend church with us. By the time we returned to the U.S., the girl sat among all of our children, worshiping Jesus, and no one in the church noticed her disfigurement.

Soul-winning was important in our ministry. One lady wanted to win people to the Lord, but she couldn’t read or write. We gave her a Bible that had specific verses highlighted for leading someone to Jesus. During conversations with others, she told them she couldn’t read and would ask them to read the Bible to her. In many cases, the readers became convicted by what they read, and the lady was able to share the plan of salvation. Many came to Jesus because of the simple act of reading God’s Word.

Throughout my 43 years of serving Christ, 11 of those in Venezuela, I still believe in the power of the gospel to save the lost. I still believe that Jesus has ultimate power, authority and truth, and that He transforms lives today just as He did in the villages and cities of Venezuela.

is a retired missionary with Foursquare Missions International. She lives in Sunland, Calif.
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