Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists convened at the Obelisco Park to spell “God believes in You” after carrying out acts of kindness during the church’s annual “Close to You Venezuela” held Aug. 3-10, 2019. Photo: Hope Media Venezuela

September 26, 2019 | Barquisimeto, Venezuela | Yosainy de Colina/IAD News Staff

Bringing out smiles, carrying out acts of kindness and sharing hope is what recently moved more than 12,000 Seventh-day Adventists in West Venezuela to impact their cities and communities amid the political turmoil and economic crisis in the country. The event mobilized church members to take a week off from their jobs and daily routine to focus on spreading joy throughout streets, avenues and homes across the territory.

The church initiative coined as “Close to You Venezuela” became the 4th annual program to take place in West Venezuela and resulted in thousands of people fed, clothed, cheered in hospitals, provided medicines, and ministered to through Bible studies, music, prayer and much more, church leaders said.

“We believe that this activity achieves the method of Jesus that He personally achieved in this world to reach people, especially those in need,” said Pastor Orlando Ramírez, president of the church in West Venezuela.  It’s about reaching people, showing sympathy, love and care and meeting their needs in a wide variety of ways, he said.

 

Dozens of people are given a plate of hot food at the Andres Eloy Blanco Park in Acarigua, Venezuela, earlier in August 2019. Photo: West Venezuela Union

“As a church, we want people to know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is very close to each one of them and through God’s love, we are inspired to serve and love others,” said Ramírez.  The initiative also carries a slogan used again this year: “Smile, God believes in You.”

Months of planning and coordinating across nine church regional conferences, resulted in more than 10,000 contacts interested in Bible studies, prayer connections, and 105 newly baptized believers.  Church leaders reported that more than 37,000 hot meals were distributed, 15,000 blood donations resulted, 900 trees were planted, and 171 free mobile clinics were offered. In addition, 9,000 children attended the 180 vacation bible schools conducted in the region, and thousands of drivers witnessed messages of hope at traffic light stops across cities.

In addition, the church held evangelistic meetings in over 154 churches and centers throughout the city, distributed over 61,000 pieces of literature, held 800 Bible studies and visited more than 2,000 families.

Young people from the East Adventist Church in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, exchanged a smile for a prayer and offered free hugs during the territory-wide initiative, Aug. 3-10, 2019. Photo: West Venezuela Union

Pastor Giovanny Martín, youth ministries director for the church in West Venezuela and main coordinator of the annual initiative, said that seeing so many members take part in helping others in their community brings joy and satisfaction. “I am so thankful for the many blessings poured upon the Adventist people, for the resources to be able to share love and support in the community,” said Martín.   The activities could not be posible without the team of pastors and committed church members who took the week off to pour into sharing hope everywhere, he added.

Martín said that churches used their own funds to support the community impact activities during the week.

One of the new projects added this year was to provide safe drinking water in the most needy communities, including the State of Falcón.  Additionally, church members set up stations to repair clothes and shoes in many communities in the Mérida State.

Pastor Giovanny Martín, youth ministries director for the church in West Venezuela and organizer of the initiative prays for a man near a automobile tire shop in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Photo: West Venezuela Union

The activities drew media coverage in dozens of radio stations, television stations and newspapers across the region. The church’s Hope Media center carried the event through a comprehensive social media campaign. In addition, staff of the Hope Media center taught a group of children participating in vacation bible school activities how to talk in front of the camera and help produce news reports for the event.

Ysabel Pinzón, a member of the Curbati Adventist church in Barinas, cut the hair of dozens of people. “This is the third time that I take part in ‘Close To You’ and it was good to have this program where  we can serve communities by painting kids’ faces, and cutting their hair, said Pinzón.

“We thank communities all across the region because they have welcomed us and supported us in tall the activities to ensure that every impact ran effectively,” Martin said.

Church member volunteers deliver drinking water to a community called Cienaguita in the city of Cumarebo in West Venezuela. Photo: West Venezuela Union

For more information about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the West Venezuela Union, Click HERE

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