The Power of the Local Church
An update from Colombia
Now imagine doing that with two families with children under the age of seven. Finally, envision that the majority of the route was full of guerilla terrorists who robbed, mugged, fought, and killed people passing through if they were thought to be with the government.
Luz Helena and her family made that journey, walking almost 1,500 kilometers from Caracas, Venezuela to Baranquilla, Colombia. The journey took weeks, with no end to their struggle upon arrival.
“We did not want to leave, it was our home,” Luz says softly, “But we had to. Now my grandchildren will remember our country in an ugly way, and that breaks my heart.”
It has been two years since the family was forced to leave Venezuela due to economic collapse and the violent protests that the country was facing. As we walked into the refugee settlement, there was an immediate stench that rose from the toxic chemical factory the shelters were built upon. The old factory had become a squatter camp, and Luz’s family lived inside. Her son-in-law explained that the toxic fumes can be ignored for the time being, because this shelter is theirs, their one last physical claim left in the world.
While we were visiting Luz, the pastor of the local church came in and was instantly embraced by the family.
Luz beamed proudly towards the pastor. “This was my first Colombian friend.”
The pastor went on to explain how the church is the only service agency actively supporting refugees in this area. Luz’s family was invited to participate in the church’s feeding program, and have been connected ever since.
Luz smiled warmly. “I still miss my country. Life here in Colombia is hard, but I have my family, and now my church who give me hope.”