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Venezuelan Baptists aid victims of strong quake

CARIACO, Venezuela (BP)–Venezuelan Baptists responded with an outpouring of food, clothing and the gospel to victims of this country’s worst earthquake in 30 years.
In July, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the eastern part of Venezuela, killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 500. Hardest hit was Cariaco, about 370 miles east of the capital city, Caracas.
Most deaths there were in a high school, where classes were in session. Scores of students, two teachers and another worker were killed.
“It was just like a bomb exploded,” said Ted Daniels, a missionary with Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board. The IMB released $20,000 in much-needed hunger relief funds to help victims of the disaster. A Venezuelan home missionary serving in Cariaco and other Baptist leaders from that association are distributing food and medicine from the local Baptist mission.
One Baptist directly involved in the quake was Pedro Orihoela, a Baptist pastor on the island of Margarita and a native of Cariaco. On the day of the earthquake, his son was supposed to be studying in the high school building that collapsed.
“When I first heard about the disaster, I thought for sure my son had been killed,” said Pedro. “But as it turned out, his teacher was not in school that day, so class was dismissed and my son was playing basketball in a nearby park when the quake hit. God has protected us through this tragedy and opened many doors of ministry to the people of that village.”
As Baptists in Cariaco share God’s love by distributing food and other help to the quake victims, they also are showing the “Jesus” film.
“When I first saw all the damage to my hometown,” said Pedro, “I could not help but cry. But now is the time when the people of my village are going to search for God. The problem is that there are not enough evangelical witnesses. We need more preachers to go to Cariaco and tell people about Jesus.”

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  • Lloyd W. Rodgers