I got back from a great trip to Venezuela at 1AM Sunday morning. The country is in a polarized turmoil as it prepares for the upcoming presidential election on Oct. 7th. The race is too close to call and any scenario for who wins is not pretty. The reigning socialist government continues to put pressure on local businesses and churches by making party affiliation obligatory in order to legally change dollars into local currency and permission must be granted from local party officials to open a new churches.
In the midst of all this, the small (10% Evangelical) church in Caracas remains strong spending days in fasting and prayer, worship, and evangelism. Although our own extension there is shrinking in size as well, it has gotten down to a “core” group of 11 students that is very dedicated to studying God´s Word. The church is going to open up admissions into the program once again in January, 2013 and is expecting to add at least 20 new students to the existing group.
Currently, our ASELSI students are using our materials to reach out to their families and co workers. One student, Rosa, shared her class material with a co-worker from Jamaica who then shared it with a woman from Iraq. This woman had many questions about the work of the Holy Spirit because she had never heard of Him before. Students are also involved in many areas of their local church and are seeing God move in power through prayer and deliverance ministries.
While in Caracas, I preached 3 times, taught 2 courses, and gave exams for 2 courses that were pending from the previous module. I also was able to attend a press conference that hosted a member of the Venezuelan congress who was the chairperson of the committee on the family. This meeting included a round table discussion between her and leaders from various Evangelical churches. Our ASELSI EBA teacher in Caracas, Malaquias, is one of the supervisors of these weekly events and they promote a very healthy dialogue between the government and local churches.
I was also able to present the ASELSI EBA program to several pastors who have churches in Caracas and are interested in training their leaders for Christian service. One is a man from Nigeria who is pastoring a bi-lingual church of people from various Caribbean islands and is interested in our program in English. Our program is being looked upon as a very good alternative for training lay leaders and pastors in many areas of Caracas and in other parts of Venezuela.
Manuel, Adolfo and Malaquias continue to head up the program in Venezuela and are refining it in many ways by getting all of our materials into a very nice and presentable format and teaching courses between modules. It is my prayer that they will continue to go forward with our program and expand it to many other needy areas of this large, diverse and volatile South American country that desperately needs the transforming power of the Gospel of Christ.
Mike, International Director of EBA