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Venezuela Update: An El Renuevo Ministry Story:
MCR Staff Briefing - October 8, 2002

by Franklin Guerrero


The natives and indigenous peoples who live along the many rivers feeding into the Orinoco River in Venezuela are the focus of an extraordinary ministry conceived by the son of a Christian Alliance Fellowship pastor. Zabdiel Arenas, a Methodist who from his youth had wanted to be a medical doctor in order to heal his people, is the founder and president of the El Renuevo Ministry, which monthly sends a medical boat and an ambulance boat up the river to bring healthcare and the gospel to those who live within its vicinity. Mr. Arenas and Grady Harmon, a layman and engineer from Lafayette, Ala. who chairs the El Renuevo Ministry, Inc. in the United States, told fascinating stories of their mission of mercy during a Mission Contexts and Relationships Program Area Staff Briefing at the offices of the General Board of Global Ministries on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

"When I was 15, I accompanied my father on a trip up the Orinoco River," Mr. Arenas said. "We were hailed from the bank by an anxious woman who told us that her husband had been bitten by a particularly venomous snake, locally known as 'Four Noses'. Soon after my father and I, along with his wife, reached their village, the man died. That had a strong effect on me, and I decided right then to become a doctor. My dream was to have a boat which would take me to all the peoples living along the river, and I would bring healing to them. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete my medical training, and wasn’t sure what God had planned for me. Then, I discovered that God had another mission for me. I purchased an old boat, and with it, I began taking medicines as well as doctors and dentists who could heal the people."

In addition, Mr. Arenas has taken the gospel to the poor and isolated villages along 1,600 miles of river where many of the two million inhabitants have not had a first contact with Christianity. They have believed in "good spirits" and "bad spirits," Mr. Arenas said. With support from El Renuevo Ministry, Inc., he has trained many missionaries among the local people. Now, in some of the villages, almost 100 percent of the people have been converted to Christianity through El Renuevo Ministry. Its Board, which Mr. Harmon chairs in the U.S., is composed of nineteen people, all of whom have been in Venezuela many times. "You cannot make decisions about what people there need if you do not understand their cultures," Mr. Harmon said..

The villagers, children and adults, are susceptible to numerous fatal or disfiguring diseases. Mosquitoes, especially, are dangerous, as their bites infect humans with flesh-eating and blinding larvae. The average life span is just over 50 years, and the mission of ministry and healing brought by the Methodists is now a welcome part of the villagers' lives. Mr. Arenas has expanded the El Renuevo Ministry, and local people are receiving training in simple medication and dentistry. In addition, colorful baskets woven by local women are taken by river to Venezuelan cities to be sold. This brings income to the villages, and provides a financial base to purchase necessities they need to improve their lives. El Renuevo also has a comprehensive appropriate-technology program, which includes providing solar energy for water purification, energy for the radio system, and for solar-energy stoves. With resources from its U.S. board, El Renuevo Ministries is operating three small radio stations, which alert several villages, now provided with radios, to the medical boat trips. Villagers come to the river bank and await the arrival of the gospel and medical treatment, begun by a young man who had a dream of healing his people. The General Board of Global Ministries is a partner in mission with El Renuevo Ministries.

To learn more about El Renuevo Ministry, contact the staff of the Mission Context and Relationships Program Area of the General Board of Global Ministries, through the contacts listing on this web site.

See Also...
Topic: Christian love Communities Evangelization Health Peace Partners/partnerships
Geographic Region: Venezuela
Source: Mission Contexts and Relationships

arrow icon. View Listing of Missionaries Currently Working in: Venezuela   

Date posted: Oct 15, 2002