VENEZUELA – More than four million Venezuelan Refugees have sought refuge in other countries, due to the severe economic crisis at home. Thousands cross the border into Colombia every day, and many of those continue on foot into the interior. They walk alone or with their children, and depend on the kindness of others for food and shelter. Christian young people in Colombia have set up an aid station along the road from the Venezuelan border. They call it a “Tent of Hope”.
According to immigration statistics in Colombia, an average of forty thousand Venezuelans cross into Colombia every day. Of those forty thousand , government sources say that three thousand do not return to Venezuela, and of those three thousand, approximately one thousand Venezuelans begin walking further into Colombia. Some of them will settle here, while others will find their way to other South American countries like Ecuador and Peru. They are desperate to leave behind the crisis that has overtaken Venezuela and find decent living conditions and opportunities for their families.
Tent of Hope is a ministry of Youth with a Mission and Operation Blessing, to care for Venezuelan migrants, to alleviate the hardships of their long hours trekking through Colombia.
Jorge Parejo is a missionary with Youth with a Mission in Colombia. He often traveled between the cities of Bucaramanga and Cúcuta, and became aware of the situation. That’s how the idea for a Tent of Hope was born.
“What inspired us to do what we’re doing? Well, first the love of Christ. I think that’s how new projects and ministries begin. When you see the need and you have the love of Christ, you need to transmit that to the people. It gives hope, it’s a place of love in action for the Venezuelans on foot.
It’s like a refuge where they can get spiritual food, which is very important, physical nourishment, and practical help, so that while they are with us, when they pass through our tent, in some way they will feel comforted and encouraged. And I think we are fulfilling the vision that God spoke to us, to be a refuge on their journey, so that they understand that Jesus is with them, that Jesus loves them, that Jesus is the one who gives them strength. That is Tent of Hope.”
They care for about 200 migrants every day. Their missionaries run out to meet them, welcome them, and offer them food, shoes, medicine and any other help they need at the moment. Then they invite them to get a massage of their tired, hurting feet while they talk to them about God’s love and how valuable they are to Him.
Jorge Parejo, YWAM Missionary:
“We take a lot of time to listen to the walkers. We are very interested in hearing their stories.”
Carlos De Nobrega / Venezuelan Walker:
“I have been walking since we left Puerto Cabello, for four days now; I left Venezuela with my family because of the economic crisis. The problem is that I used to work in the port zone, at the main dock which is the largest in Venezuela, and now it is really totally destroyed, so there isn’t as much work that there was before. Actually that place is desolate now, it looks like a desert, there is no production of any kind and if there is any production it’s for the government and no one else gets anything.”
Tent of Hope opened on October 23rd, 2018 and is located 45 kilometers from the Venezuelan border on the highway to Cúcuta, Colombia.
Jorge Parejo, YWAM Missionary:
“We would like for them not to come any more, but we are going to keep doing this while the crisis is going on.”
As long as the Venezuela crisis continues, the Tent of Hope team is committed to providing a refuge, demonstrating a God of hope to the walking Venezuelan Refugees.
To read more news on Venezuelan Refugees on Missions Box, go here.
Sources: Global News Alliance, Tent of Hope for Venezuelan Refugees