June 18, 2021 | View All Stories

Venezuelan Refugees Find Christ-Centered Relief in Ecuador During Economic Crisis

Lydia found herself in a terrible situation. Her husband was unemployed during the pandemic, they had given all the money they had to pay rent, and she was eight months pregnant. Seeking a better life they had taken very little with them when they fled Venezuela’s economic crisis to come to neighboring Ecuador. After her child was born, she didn’t even have clothes for the baby. 

This is just one story of what refugees from Venezuela are experiencing. Some 5.5 million people have left, at the rate of 5,000 per day. Venezuela was one of the most prosperous countries in the region. Now almost 90% of the inhabitants live in poverty. Some expect inflation to rise above fifteen thousand percent in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse. As a result, many are leaving the country seeking a better life. Many have found help through a refugee center called Seeds of Peace. Lydia was one of them. 

Cruz Paniagua, a ministry leader in Venezuela who also had to leave because of the economic crisis, started Seeds of Peace. While continuing his extensive ministry of church planting and training pastors, he established this refugee center in Ecuador to serve Venezuelan refugees passing through or staying temporarily in the country. The ministry gives food, clothes, medicines, diapers, formula, and whatever is needed, especially the gospel. 

Lydia is one person who benefited from Seeds of Faith. She shared, “Through Facebook, I saw this group [Seeds of Peace], and then contacted Dexy [lead pastor for Seeds of Peace]. With much compassion, she helped me with clothes for my little baby. A thousand thanks to Seeds of Peace!”

Lydia continued her story, “When my baby was one month old, they hospitalized him. They [Seeds of Peace] helped me, and with prayers, today my baby is eight-months old and enjoys good health.”

As noted above, Cruz also is a refugee along with his wife, Keydi, and their children. Keydi experienced a high-risk pregnancy while in Ecuador. After giving birth, the doctors discovered that her baby, Maria Fernanda, will need surgery for a cleft palate. Despite the hardships he faces, Cruz continues to oversee the ministry in Venezuela and Seeds of Peace in Ecuador. 

ANM Donors Make a Difference 

That’s why ANM’s support has been so vital to Seeds of Peace. With donor support, Cruz has been able to help many families like Lydia’s who are suffering a lot of pain and hurt. 

One person shared her reaction to the help she received, “Thank you very much, Semillas de Paz [Seeds of Peace]. In the most complicated moments that we have passed through in Ecuador, we can continue with the help of a friend. God put angels along the way of our children so that they understand that we are not alone in this world. God uses these people so that we feel His mercy and a hug in desert times to teach us to return to His feet.”

Another woman, Doymaris, shares how Seeds of Peace has impacted her family: “I have two children and my husband, Ricardo. Together we feel supremely grateful for the Semillas de Paz ministry. During the hardest moments of our life, they appeared with a blessing. They seemed literally to be a hand from heaven. They are always aware of everyone, especially of the children, in order to give them joy. This they do. Thanks, Semillas de Paz, for making my way easier in this land called Ecuador. God bless you and add a multitude of blessings to all the group that makes everything possible and all the people who put in their two cents to work together and who donate.”

Immediate Results from a Workshop 

One of the first things Seeds of Peace did in Ecuador was hold marriage workshops for Venezuelan refugees. Here is what Edith shared about the impact of the workshop on her marriage:

“This morning, when I woke up, I was not yet determined to come to the workshop. My husband Fernando asked me, and I told him that I would not go. I was really disappointed with him and with everything he had done so far. I had decided not to forgive Fernando. My thought was to leave him again because I had done it once. However, I decided to go with respect to the pastor who had invited us. During the day, I had a very distant attitude. When Pastor Cruz began to pray and ask that we pray for each other, I felt something I had not experienced before. I began to see Fernando with the loving eyes that God has for me. My heart was shed in tears, and I realized that I was being free of hatred and resentment towards Fernando. Today I decided to forgive him, and I am free. I feel that I love my husband, and I want to rebuild my relationship.”

Edith and Fernando have four children, and today they are some of the most faithful volunteers in the refugee center.

 

These are just a few examples of the changed lives of people impacted by the gifts of ANM donors. Would you like to help refugees to know the love of Jesus and experience better lives? You can make a difference in the life of a refugee by clicking here.

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Sue Morris

Sue Morris is a writer with ANM's Marketing team.

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