Even though Manuel* has found refuge in Colombia, he still fears for his life because of political unrest in his Venezuelan homeland. However, because of assistance from the Foursquare church in Maicao, Manuel secured not only food and shelter, but also a lasting relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Carlos* and Maria* also wound up on the streets of Maicao after leaving Venezuela in search of medication for their son, who had been having epileptic seizures. They too made a decision to follow Christ after Foursquare churches provided the family food and obtained seizure medication.
This past year, over 800 people have found salvation in Jesus and made decisions to follow Christ as part of Foursquare’s outreach to Venezuelans fleeing from social chaos experienced during their nation’s seven-year-long economic decline.
A recent Los Angeles Times report stated that 5,000 Venezuelans are leaving the country daily. Some project the overall number will reach 6 million by the end of 2020—placing it on a par with Syria’s refugee crisis.
Chad Isenhart, Foursquare Disaster Relief’s (FDR) international response director, visited Colombia recently. He says parents like Carlos and Maria are facing parental decisions he can’t imagine being forced to make. For the couple, that includes deciding whether to return to Venezuela for their other son, who is temporarily staying with a grandparent, or hope all family members will be able to join them in Colombia.
This past year, over 800 people have found salvation in Jesus and made decisions to follow Christ as part of Foursquare’s outreach to Venezuelans fleeing their nation’s seven-year-long economic decline.
Thanks to the efforts of Foursquare churches engaged in ground-level relief, many refugees who come through Maicao, located near the border with Venezuela, receive a hot meal or a disaster kit. Some kits have basic food supplies for people expecting to remain in the city and search for work, while others contain emergency travel supplies. Sometimes, local church members have helped wayfarers with laundry, lodging or other personal needs, such as the people who secured seizure medication.
“Finding people where they are is an awesome testimony of the church going out and meeting people, and not waiting for them to come in the church doors,” Chad states. “It’s not just the pastor and a couple key leaders. It’s everyone, from young people to grandparents.”
Dubbed the Road to Hope, since FDR launched its response to the crisis in 2019, U.S. Foursquare churches have donated more than $100,000 to this effort.
Chad says the initiative demonstrates the beauty of the partnership between the church in Colombia and the U.S. church.
“Finding people where they are is an awesome testimony of the church going out and meeting people, and not waiting for them to come in the church doors.” —Chad Isenhart, FDR international response director
Foursquare’s missiology focuses on supporting and releasing indigenous churches. The strength of Foursquare’s strategy is working through churches in Colombia because residents understand the culture, speak the same language as Venezuelans and are actively sending out relief teams to help refugees, Chad explains.
In addition to Colombian teams, FDR has partnered with half a dozen U.S. teams that traveled to South America during the past year. Those personnel have sought to help strategize, offer assistance and strengthen the local church for this mission.
Chad expresses his thanks for the Foursquare family worldwide and hopes they see what a vital part of the Road to Hope they represent.
“Because you’ve given, we’ve been able to hand out food,” Chad says to the Foursquare family. “Because you’ve given, lives have been changed for eternity. I would hope you feel this connectedness. Because you gave sacrificially, people are going to bed with food in their stomachs, a smile on their faces and hope in their hearts. I’ve seen this firsthand and hope everyone who has partnered with us will feel the seriousness of that.”
* Names changed for privacy reasons