In hearing about the Venezuelan Crisis from my home in Indianapolis, Here is what I heard and couldn't believe:
-25 pounds is what the average Venezuelan lost just last year alone
-2 million people are known to have already left everything behind
-5,000 people cross the border every day
-10 people froze to death sleeping outside in the Andes mountains trying to walk to a better life last week
We took the position with Samaritans Purse as we felt the Lord burdening our hearts and He continues to open door after door to come and serve in Colombia. The numbers don't make sense for someone who saw Venezuela 20 years ago. How can you comprehend someone losing 25 pounds from a lack of basic food? Could I lose 25 pounds? Maybe, what's my starting weight you ask? What about someone who already weighs 160?
Two million, maybe as many as 4 million, have already left and are simply walking. Walking away. Walking to a distant relative? To a rumor of jobs? Simply walking to something - food, basic medicine. When was the last time that that happened with so many people? WW2 Europe after the Holocaust? I haven't heard anything in the news like that. What would it take for you to leave everything behind except for what you can put in two plastic bags, and old ripped school backpack, and a clunky broken suitcase while carrying your 3 year old for 12 hours?
Who does that? How many people could do that? Could survive that?
I arrived Thursday night in Colombia, shaken not stirred. Thankful that my footlocker got lost along the way, but would surely follow the next day. Seriously, I'm trying to walk 500 feet to a curb with two footlockers and two stuffed carry-ons. How am I going to pull that one off? Thankfully, one was delayed.
Colombia feels a lot like the Venezuela I remember from 20 years ago. At breakfast, I could have been a commercial for the hotel. Arepas! Guava! Cafe con leche! I caught myself more than once with my eyes closed and mmm'ing. Every bite took me somewhere down memory lane. The traffic, light rain, and the heat with people bustling everywhere simply made me smile with contentment to be home. God is good.
After looking at maps and talking to what’s-your-name-again all morning, I asked to get out and see the infamous bridge crossing. "We can't get too close," I was warned. "The Colombians are fine but the other side may wonder why two gringos are there." And we never got close to the bridge. The congestion was backed up for at least a mile.
Later on, we went to the shelter. In a major afternoon downpour, I saw what those numbers meant. I still couldn't understand the numbers. It is worse.
But for the grace of God, go I.
And so we are here to be a drop in the bucket. To help even the least of these.
18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. ~Deut. 10:18-19