When TWR’s national partner in turbulent Venezuela encountered a roadblock in its popular children’s ministry, another national partner an ocean away stepped in to help.
RTM Venezuela (RTM is the Spanish version of TWR) produces the radio program Pedrito el Pulpo, or Little Peter the Octopus, which entertains young audiences while imparting lessons of biblical truth and civic ethics. The RTM team takes puppets of Pedrito and the other characters on the road to perform before crowds of children. More than 2,000 kids were ministered to in 20 presentations during 2017.
But as the country sinks deeper in political and economic crisis, the road trips have become prohibitively difficult and expensive even though “we have a warrior team that does not shy away from the reality of being transported in uncomfortable conditions,” said RTM Venezuela director Gabriel Fernandez. Open-bed trucks are often used as a substitute for buses.
“The economic situation of the country, galloping inflation and the scarcity of some automotive products combine to make it more difficult to travel in public transport, and fewer people are willing to contribute their personal vehicles for tours with Pedrito el Pulpo,” Fernandez said.
Distant Partner Lends a Hand
So ERF Medien of Germany, TWR’s oldest national partner, responded to the need. The German ministry, which has long been active in South American outreach, agreed to cover the cost of a vehicle for its colleagues in Venezuela.
With that welcome gift in the offing and with summer rallies planned, RTM arranged a temporary solution to its transportation problems. It used operating funds provided by TWR International to buy a 2008 van for carrying the 10- to 12-member Pedrito traveling team and its equipment. Now the RTM team will be able to travel more reliably and less expensively to its rallies, some of which are many hours away.
“Thank you for the support of TWR International and all of you regarding the project,” Fernandez wrote. “The RTM Venezuela team is celebrating!”
Though a serious problem, the travails of transportation pale in comparison with other hardships that plague this country. Inflation is sky-high, necessities are hard or impossible to find, and as many as a million Venezuelans have fled the country because of the conditions. Children are dying because of shortages of food and medicine, Fernandez reported. In fact, the Pedrito team now hands out oatmeal and food items to audiences rather than gift bags.
Prayer Needed as Election Approaches
With the national vote for president slated for Sunday, May 20, 2018, RTM Venezuela is bracing for the possibility of the outbreaks of unrest and even violence that surrounded an election in the summer of 2017. Annabel Torrealba, a native of Venezuela and TWR director for northern and central Latin America and the Caribbean, called on TWR staff and supporters around the world to remember in prayer the country and the media ministry based there.
As you feel led, please pray for:
- Venezuela and its people as they make critical political decisions to address the ongoing crisis.
- RTM Venezuela as its staff strives to serve the Lord amid extremely trying circumstances. Frequent power outages interfere with work in the office, and staff members must invest a lot of money and effort into finding food for their families and transportation to the office.
- The ministry’s critical outreach to a hurting nation. Pray especially for Pedrito el Pulpo and its impact on the young lives of its audience.