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Group photo of the Seventh-day Adventists, local business owners, and local politicians who gathered at the El Porton LLanero restaurant in Rionegro, Antioquia, North Colombia, for a special dinner and program to raise funds for Venezuela migrants, on Feb. 28, 2019. Photo: North Colombia Union

April 11, 2019 | Medellin, Colombia | Daniela Arrieta/IAD News Staff

Eager to assist the thousands of Venezuelans coming into Colombia, several Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Rionegro, in the state of Antioquia, in North Colombia, recently hosted a special dinner with local business owners and politicians to raise funds to assist many migrants needing medical attention and meals.

More than 75 guests crowded into the El Porton Llanero restaurant to enjoy a musical program, Venezuelan dishes and an opportunity to assist thousands in need.

“We wanted to hold this dinner of solidarity because in our district we have seen first hand the Venezuela migration and its drama and we noticed that our call as Christians forces us to transform our empathy into concrete acts of kindness towards them,” said Kevin Mendoza Gutiérrez, district pastor and organizer of the event.

The special event raised more than $1,000 US dollars that will go toward the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia which has ben assisting Venezuelan migrant families  in the cities of Bucaramanga and Medellin since September of last year. Funds will also be sent to support a local ADRA project in Cucuta, Colombia—bordering city with Venezuela, where hot meals are distributed once a week to some 200 Venezuelan migrants.

Special dish representative of Venezuela cuisine was served during the fundraising event. Photo: North Colombia Union

“I have been a witness to the strategic points in Colombia where ADRA is doing a wonderful work, so we want to do our part so that this can move forward,” said Pastor Mendoza.

The activity motivated many church members from the Carmen de Viboral, La ceja and Guarne Adventist Churches throughout three Adventist Churches to get involved in the fundraising project.  “Everyone involved was so enthusiastic to take part in organizing the evento, from the food committee, publicists, financial budget committee and others,” Mendoza said.

Maria Gabriela Huerta told those gathered during the program that she had left Venezuela approximately one year ago for Colombia because of the social, economical and political situation her country faces. She thanked the Adventist Church for such great initiative.

“This has been a wonderful initiative that you have put together, very beautiful and thoughtful that truly helps us in these moments when we need so much support,” Huerta said.

Pastor Joel Jaimes, president of the church in Southwest Colombia Conference, prays to conclude the fundraising event in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia. Photo: North Colombia Union

According to state government statistics, some 77,000 Venezuelans, not counting undocumented migrants , are looking to settle in Antioquia. The Adventist churches in Antioquia have become a collaborative network that supports and provides information where Venezuelans can seek employment and obtain assistance, local church leaders said.

A well-known artist found out about the fundraising dinner at the restaurant and offered to donate one of his paintings, local church leaders said. He also contacted other artist friends and suggested the church organize a larger event where 50 more pieces from fellow artists to assist in the work of helping Venezuelans through the work of ADRA Colombia.

Pastor Joel Jaimes, president of the church in the Southwest region, prayed as the fundraising dinner ended with an appeal to those attending to continue helping many Venezuelans in need.

To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Colombia, visit unioncolombiana.org

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