For more than a year now, Edgar Mongua has led the “Give Them Something to Eat” initiative and social assistance programs in public squares and prisons in Ocumare del Tuy and Yare, Miranda, in eastern Venezuela.
“Give Them Something to Eat,” which takes places specifically in two neighborhoods in Yare, includes distributing 30 to 60 arepas one day a week to children, single mothers, and seniors.
Likewise, 5 to 10 food bags are distributed among low-income families. Leaders also organize other activities to benefit the community, including haircuts, free consultations with a dentist, and blood pressure check-ups. Volunteers also distribute clothing, shoes, and hot meals to those who need them.
“We also organize games and sports activities for children, the youth, and teens,” Mongua said. “On Friday afternoons, these kids and young people meet with us to listen to a message from God’s Word.”
A group of Adventist volunteers also visits a public square in Ocumare del Tuy every Friday morning to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those who stop by.
“We sing, we pray, we study the Bible with a group of approximately 60 people (most of them senior citizens), and then we share a tasty breakfast with them,” Mongua shared. “We also organize health and social assistance special days, which, again, include offering free haircuts and dental services.”
The initiative has resulted in many new regular visitors to local congregations. Among those who were assisted are 20 who have studied the Bible and requested to be baptized.
The outreach has also moved from public places to benefit those who are held in prison. Every Tuesday morning, Adventist volunteers offer physical and spiritual support at the Ocumare del Tuy police station. The church’s initiatives have benefited prisoners and police agents alike.
“Every Tuesday is a different experience. We have seen how the Lord has touched and transformed hearts,” Wilma, Mongua’s wife, said. She added that so far, 12 people have been baptized as a direct result of this prison ministries initiative.
Among them, Wilma shared the story of Miguel and Gerly, a man and a woman who had been living as enemies of God.
“My husband preached about the need to ask the Lord to change them and made an altar call. They didn’t accept it right away, but after visiting and praying for them, they asked for forgiveness for their past sins and decided to be baptized in a special ceremony in January. That very same day, a police agent and an officer of the Justice Department accepted to study a Bible course about ‘Transformed Women.’”
Mongua, in charge of five churches and two groups in Yare, is not new to the work of outreach ministries. In his 15 years as a minister, he has introduced outreach initiatives in every district he served. “Even before becoming a pastor, I would go out with my daughter down the streets of Caracas to share breakfast with the homeless on Sunday mornings,” he shared.
He explained he feels a burden for meeting the needs of those who most need it, such as senior citizens, the homeless, those with special needs, children, and single mothers.
“I like to feel useful in God’s hands, witness how people’s faces brighten up, and receive a hug of gratitude,” Mongua said. And volunteers work intently, he emphasized. “Our goal is that people may come to the point of surrendering their lives to Jesus, and plant churches in places with no Adventist presence,” he said.
Thanks to the support of local church boards and the funds provided by kind church members, the various ministries led by Mongua distribute 680 breakfasts, 240 hot lunches, and 12 food bags with seven basic food items every month.
According to Mongua, close to 15,000 people have already benefited from their initiatives in the last twelve months.
“Our goal is to double those figures, so we are now praying and inviting other volunteers to help and add their support to our project,” Mongua said.
Mongua also shared that a more encompassing challenge and dream is to build a permanent Adventist soup kitchen in Ocumare del Tuy. “We would also like to create work opportunities for our members,” he said.