How the Evangelical Council of Venezuela Is Seeking a New Way of Societal Accord, Peace, and Reconciliation

by Brian C. Stiller

Venezuela, with the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia, today looks more like Syria, noted a journalist. With the country in free fall, it is hard to imagine how it can last much longer. In daily updates, we listen to multiplying horror stories of no food, empty medicine shelves, stunning numbers of kidnappings, and the hemorrhaging of ten percent of its population in a matter of months.

This incredibly beautiful and rich-in-resource Latin American country is the paradigm of ideological delusion, bureaucratic dissonance, governmental piracy, police intimidation, and outright robbing of the public pursue.

Keep in mind what we are talking about. With 30 million in population, about the size of Canada, it is harbored on the northeast coast of South America. Colonized by the Spanish in the 1500s, it became independent in 1881. Long the bastion of caudillos or military “strongmen,” in the 1950s and following, a series of elected governments ruled, ending in 1993 with Hugo Chávez becoming president. He died in 2013.

During his rule, Venezuela, with more natural oil reserves than Saudi Arabia, came unglued. Mirroring Cuba, its economic management drove it to financial ruin, with shortages in almost everything and millions fleeing the country for survival.

Its current president, Maduro, a former bus driver, has turned his failing country into a kind of police state, merging dire economic realities with religious intimidation, social fiascos and an unending litany of debilitating stories of starvation, needless deaths from lack of medicine, and a citizenry fatigued by dishonesty and failed governance.

Responding to resistance with authoritarianism and repression, day to day its precarious status teeters on the edge of utter disaster, about to collapse into a valley of ruin with its short-term prospects hanging on attempts, by its opposition leader Juan Guaidó, to arrest national leadership.

Transparency International reports that they are not able to measure the level of corruption in Venezuela. As they note, “Layer upon layer, violence and corruption, handmaidens of the powerful, rule. While these factors exist in various degrees in many countries, here corruption has become statecraft.”

Within this cauldron of boiling issues are people of faith, living with resolution and determination. Here, the Evangelical Council of Venezuela is seeking a new way of societal accord, peace, and reconciliation.

Pastor Samuel Olson, President of the Council, called on people to pray “together as a family, asking God that through His Holy Spirit cares, directs and blesses our nation in this critical hour of its history.”

My last visit illustrated how evangelicals operate in a place of repression and social disintegration. As part of a worldwide network of National Alliances in 130 countries, this alliance, led by Venezuelan-born pastor Samuel Olson, is the voice of the evangelical community, a Christian grouping close to a quarter of its entire population.

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Source: Christianity Today