Those of you who follow me on social media, or who have been in prayer meetings with me, know that I have been extremely burdened about the crisis in Venezuela. I was in Ukraine a few years ago and was scheduled to fly from there to Venezuela. I was overjoyed to be in Ukraine as I loved the country and her people. I was eager to go next to Venezuela because I have always wanted to return to minister there again. Unfortunately, the world seemed to fall apart in Ukraine the very night I arrived. I was able to get out of Ukraine, but I canceled my onward travel to Venezuela because extreme unrest erupted there about the same time. I still have that unused portion of my ticket, and have watched developments in the news closely, praying for Venezuela more than usual ever since.
I love Venezuela. I had the amazing privilege of preaching in four or five cities there a few years ago and traveled by car throughout that beautiful country; many of its citizens are dear friends, precious people who love Jesus with all their hearts. I have known missionaries who served there for many years. I have also met others who went with their families to live and serve there even after the crises began – with eyes wide open and hearts broken.
My burden for Venezuela and her people has only increased with recent news coming out of there. I have used my personal platform on social media to call people to prayer and to repent of our passive acceptance of this simply because it is too big and complex for any one of us.
Today I got a message from a friend who lives in Southeast Asia asking the question, “Dr. Sills, what can be done about Venezuela?” Trust me, I have thought long and hard about that one, and I had thought about it for weeks before it arrived in my inbox, because it has been my question also. I have the answer for what can be done for Venezuela, and I know what you can do.
Let me first be clear what not to do. I do not think you or I should presume to have all the answers to another country’s problems, especially since we don’t even understand all the challenges they face. So we should not declare exactly what the current Venezuelan leadership must do – whether that is to step down or to dig in. Such a declaration would be ridiculous and as naïve as ill-informed movie stars and movie makers declaring what international foreign policy should be or which person could best lead a country in which they’ve never even lived, or worse, some television preacher dealing out death sentences to foreign leaders. But let’s all agree that at least something must be done. People in Venezuela are dying daily from violence, lack of medicine, and starvation.
Neither should we always and automatically side with those who are shouting the loudest. I am a firm believer in democratic rule and every person getting a vote, but we should be slow to determine the outcome before those votes are counted, and slow to declare that the ones shouting the most and loudest about governments and policies should get their way. I remember reading a true story about a crowd that was asked to choose their king. They not only rejected the one they should have chosen, they preferred a criminal instead, and vociferously demanded the crucifixion of the true King. I have been nervous about mob rule ever since I first heard that story.
But I do know that something must be done in Venezuela. This is a crisis of epic and tragic proportions. Yes, countries must be given time and space to solve their own problems, but there comes a time when claims of sovereign right to rule are no longer applicable, and when white-gloved diplomacy has run its course in vain. I realize that it is hard to say precisely when that moment comes, but in retrospect we know it arrived before the Nazis spread across Europe and decimated the Jewish people, we know it arrived at some moment before the Rwandan genocide, and I think it is teetering on the brink in some other African countries right now. Over a million refugees there do not have a country, food to eat, a place to sleep, or even know where their mothers and fathers are or where their children are. Yes, a time comes when every believer must stop whatever they are doing and act. That time has come!
There are many things that can be done for Venezuela. No one among us knows all that must be done, but there some things all of us must do for Venezuela. This is what you can do.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for the perfect will of God and His righteous rule there. I know that you think you know what it should look like. Trust me, I do too. But we must stop and pray to the One who actually knows.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for those unfairly jailed to be released.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for freedom for Venezuelans to choose their leaders.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for food for the hungry, medicine for the sick, care for the wounded, peace for society, and for voices of hope and reason to sound in the hearing of all.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for Awakening and revival for both the people and the leadership – praying throughout the day for repentance, reconciliation, restitution, restoration, and regeneration among the people and the government.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for the Gospel to run and have unhindered access to the hearts of every Venezuelan.
- Stop and pray throughout the day for yourself to be the answer to the prayers of others by asking, “Lord, what is it that is not being done that ought to be done that I could do, and if it were done You would be more glorified in Venezuela and Your kingdom would expand there?” Then think about that. Then do it. No matter what.
What is amazing to me as I write this is how many of the genuine believers who read this will see this as weak, inadequate, naïve, or simply pious platitudes. The truth is that the only hope for Venezuela is God Himself. He must change hearts, free captives, provide for the needy, and enable His church to stand strong in the midst of this chaos.
What Venezuela needs right now is some immediate help to escape this dark night of terror. What Venezuela needs in order to stay free from it is pervasive saturation of Gospel-preaching churches, biblically-qualified pastors, discipled believers, and Christ-honoring families in every home. In the absence of that, the return of this dark reign is inevitable, but with it, Venezuela’s future is as bright as the promises of God.
These are not naïve, Pollyanna, Sunday School-answers to some of the most complex problems of the world. Seriously, we all know that Venezuela needs immediate practical help in this crisis. And we must give it. But the truth is that we can never throw enough money or Western answers to provide long-term solutions in a broken world. Ask anyone in Haiti.
Yes, immediate temporal help is needed, but eternal hope is the only answer.
What can we do to help Venezuela? Pray to the only One who can change the hearts, homes, health, and harmony of nations. Pray!