“If cancer hasn’t beaten me, neither will hunger,” said Norbis Sánchez before leaving her native Venezuela for Colombia to get away from the economic, social, and political strife plaguing her home country.
Sánchez, who is a Seventh-day Adventist, now resides in Cúcuta, Colombia, a city that shares a border with Venezuela, the border she and her family crossed with no money or passports.
“My passport is the Lord,” she said in front of more than 550 Venezuelans who gathered on May 19, 2019, at the Juan Frío Adventist Recreational Center in Valle del Rosario, in Norte Santander. The special program was organized for Adventists from Venezuela living in Cúcuta.
The activity was meant to gather church members in Colombia, encourage their continued involvement in community projects, and share with them more about what Venezuelans are going through.
“We are very happy to be able to develop this program for Seventh-day Adventists from Venezuela,” said Edilberto Ortíz, president of the church in the Northeast Colombia Conference church region. “Initially, we started working with all Venezuelan migrants without thinking about their culture or religion, and then we decided to also focus on seeking out and welcoming Adventists.”
Since the beginning of the crisis at the border several years ago, ADRA Colombia and the Northeast Colombia Conference have been running projects to benefit thousands of Venezuelan migrants with food baskets, mattresses, toiletries, blankets, shoes, and basic health services, Ortíz explained.
The hundreds of migrants who came to the special program were treated to a dinner, music, and time to share their experiences with the group.
“I faithfully asked God for His help, and He did, so I am going to remain in this church and get baptized,” said migrant Dora Luz, who has been attending church but is not yet a member.
During the program, 190 food baskets were distributed to the group, thanks to donations by ADRA Colombia, ADRA Puerto Rico, and Changing People’s Lives International, a non-government organization.
According to the most recent data, more than 300 Venezuelan Adventist families reside in Cúcuta.
“We have received great assistance from ADRA Puerto Rico, which was represented by Jose Alberto Rodríguez, who delivered resources to help migrants who are now living in Cúcuta,” Ortíz said.
Yovanny Ruíz, who arrived in Cúcuta in search of a better future, thanked God, volunteers, and everyone who donated to help him and his fellow countrymen.
“We are so thankful for this wonderful token of love,” Ruíz said. “Jesus is [present] throughout the world and is using you as instruments. My family and all of us who are staying in my house are so grateful for all that the church has done for us.”
The local ADRA office in Cúcuta now plans to work on a project where children from the church in Cúcuta will raise funds and collect clothes and toys for Venezuelan migrant children, church leaders said.