Hugo Chavez has a tight hold on Venezuela and is hell-bent on squashing any and all who would resist his dictatorial desire to reign supreme and move the country to pure Socialism. I had the opportunity to stand at a safe distance and listen (with an interpreter) to a pro-Chavez propaganda rally. Politically he is a Populist and is manipulating the country's poorest citizens for his own gains by constructing a litany of handouts to win favor. The country is almost evenly divided into two groups. One groups sees him as a type of Robin Hood -- the other group see him simply as a hood.
The purpose of explaining the situation there is not to expound a "political" position, but instead, to give some texture to the context in which the churches are struggling. Here in the U.S. there is an old adage that says -- As the church goes so goes the Nation. But in Venezuela the adage is reversed -- As the Nation goes so goes the church. Political tension is finding its way into the church through many first generation believers. Factious politics threaten to grab the spotlight, and dim the gospel's Light. In many instances the wolves of divisiveness are crouched at the door and ready to pounce. The destruction of Faith Communities is only one misspoken word away. A great spiritual harvest is taking place in Venezuela, yet nothing can kill the work of the Spirit of God like division.
Please pray for the believers there, and pray for the pastors who are trying to follow God's lead in the midst of incredibly difficult circumstances.
On a lighter note . . . In the next post I will introduce you to the Venezuelan chainsaw!