An Update on Venezuela from Warren Lathem

March 12, 2013

By now you have heard the news that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has died of cancer and the Vice-President is in power.  Please pray for the people of Venezuela as a pall rests on the country and they wait to see what kind of transition will occur.

Jane and I returned on March 5, the day the President was announced dead.  Since then we have been in close communication with the wonderful people of Venezuela.  Below is a report of the month we spent with them. "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him..." (Ephesians 1:2-4a NIV)

When Jane and I left for Venezuela on February 5, we had no idea what a central role Paul's letter to the Church in Ephesus was to play in our lives here this month. First if all, the students, pastors, friends, missionaries, staff and the churches have been a source of multiplied blessing. God has taken our meager gifts of service and brought back to us manifold blessings.  More about that later.

Please know what a significant role you have played in the work of the Kingdom in Venezuela! Through your gifts, prayers, partnership, encouragement and service, you are having an eternal impact for Christ on this nation and the world.

Here is one story as an example of the impact of your faithfulness: Solange is a leader in her local United Methodist Church and a student in the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela. Her pastors are also graduates and students (Bachelor and Master level). Together they learned in the Seminary the importance of neighbor cell groups and the tools to create a group which will reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ, lives are transformed.

Solange felt led to begin a cell group in her home which is located just four blocks from the Seminary. However, there is no other Christian home in a several square block area (Venezuela is the most secular country in South America). Even more challenging is the 4 square blocks around her home is a center of Satanic worship, Witchcraft, Santeria, Black Magic and Indigenous idol worship and paganism. It is a place of great spiritual darkness! It is what the Apostle Paul referred to as "a stronghold of the devil."

However, this reality did not deter Solange. Clothed in the "whole amour of God" (Ep. 6) she began to shine the Light of the World into that darkness. Today, the lost are being saved, the captives are being set free, the strongholds are being torn down. Praise God! We have seen the glory of the Resurrected Savior revealed in the lives of those who once lived in absolute darkness. We have seen the bonds of Satan broken by the power of Christ.

Solange reached out to a beautiful young wife and mother. She and her husband were practicing Witchdoctors and devout Satanists. She had been "given" at birth to the devil by her parents in a formal act of worship. Her life was filled with evil and spiritual darkness. We witnessed the breaking of these chains and the deliverance from that life as she was saved and set free in Christ. As every Methodist knows: "He breaks the power of cancelled sin, he sets the prisoner free, his blood can make the foulest clean, his blood availed for me." (Oh, For A Thousand Tongues To Sing, Charles Wesley). "For he chose us in him..."

The last Sunday we were in Venezuela, we worshiped with the UMC where Solange is a member. They reported over 50 professions of faith in Christ that very week through their small group ministry.  They are having a great impact for Christ in Venezuela.

For now, please accept our thanks and the eternal gratitude of those who have and will come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.