Physical and Spiritual Food for Venezuela
The Arces have been in Venezuela for about 20 years, but the needs are still the same. The people need Jesus. They also need food. The Arces are trying to give them both, but they start with food. So after meeting that first physical need, the Arces then move to the great spiritual need in Venezuela.
According to a recent New York Times article, President Nicholas Maduro is accused of bringing Venezuela to the “verge of economic collapse and humanitarian disaster.” That’s why so many go hungry each day as prices sky rocket due to inflation. A carton of eggs can cost anywhere from a quarter to an entire month’s wage. Lucy said it’s common for people to only have one meal a day. And Dan said, “Mangoes and bananas are called noise killers.” They silence the constant growl of the stomachs of the hungry. That’s why the Arces’ “Happy Hearts Ministry” is so crucial. The ministry provides food Monday through Friday for children and adults, prison inmates, hospital patients, and many more. The food is prepared in the homes of church members. “These are dark times in Venezuela. We are using food to meet people’s physical needs as a gateway to meeting their spiritual needs,” Dan said.
After the people are fed, it’s a perfect time to talk to them about the Bread of Life. In Venezuela the people often want to mix Christianity and paganism which is really just paganism. The Arces live near a mountain where people continually practice witch craft and offer sacrifices. There’s also a lot of superstition and idols in their community. The Arces oldest son Michael said idols are part of the culture. You might go to someone’s house and see several idols because they’ve been passed down from family to family. “We’re trying to help them understand who God is, and that this is not a religion but more of a relationship,” Michael said. Ironically, there are also idols to protect you when you plan to break God’s law and steal. Dan said you can go to a store and buy the “Holy Thief” idol so that you can be blessed and safe when you steal. This is the foolishness described in Romans 1:21. In sharing the gospel, the Arces are trying to teach people the one way to salvation. Then the Arces go on to mentor and disciple new converts through their church.
As you pray for the Arces in Venezuela, remember the physical needs of the people, and their spiritual needs. Dan said the people are willing to hear the gospel if you give them a plate of food. So pray for the blessing of Happy Hearts ministry, and for the Arces as they feed, disciple, counsel, and teach the Venezuelans in their community.