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More Than 12,000 Begin Relationship With Christ in Venezuelan City Overrun with Witchcraft

During the first weekend of July, the city of Mérida in the Andes Mountains of northwestern Venezuela welcomed a two-day evangelistic outreach in which tens of thousands of people heard the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ at the Guillermo Soto Rosa Stadium.

Festival de la Familia began with a special outreach event for children on Saturday morning. David Ruíz, guest speaker and associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), followed with two nights of proclaiming the Good News to all ages.

Since 2019, the Evangelical Council of Venezuela has taken Festival de la Familia to different cities of this tropical country—most recently in Puerto La Cruz, Isla de Margarita, and San Fernando de Apure.

“Our vision is for Venezuela to be reached for Jesus Christ,” said César Mermejo, president of the Evangelical Council. “We strongly believe that the only way a country can be changed is by first knowing the truth about our spiritual condition. … This is why we want to take the Gospel to all regions of Venezuela through these events.”

Located at an altitude of 5,384 feet, Mérida is famous for its historic Los Andes University, its colorful colonial buildings, and for being the highest and coldest city in a country that stays warm year-round.

But despite the physical charm of the city, its inhabitants have great spiritual needs and lack eternal hope. Local pastors believe that only 3% of the population has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and witchcraft and sorcery have become prevalent in the last few decades.

“Unfortunately, Mérida is the city with the highest suicide rate in Venezuela, especially among the youth who desperately seek to fill the emptiness in their hearts,” shared Evangelist David Ruíz. “I believe this Festival came at the right time as thousands heard the message of hope and had an encounter with the Prince of Peace.”

Despite gas shortages and other transportation challenges in this region, long lines of people streamed into the venue. The planning team expected about 25,000 people, but the Lord moved hearts in a mighty way, with over 45,000 attendants among the three events.

On Saturday morning, Festikids drew thousands of children to participate in fun activities and watch a play called Jesus to the Rescue, led by young people from local churches.

Saturday and Sunday nights, the Family Festival brought thousands of people of all ages. People listened intently as David Ruíz shared how we all have sinned, but Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross.

A New Life

Months earlier, Laura* got very angry when evangelical Christians started to share the Gospel in her community. For an extended period of time, she harassed them and even denounced them before the authorities, saying, “They were disrupting the peace in the region and going against the traditional beliefs of the community.”

But these Christians decided to counter her animosity with love. One of them was Yaneth.

Yaneth and others shared the Gospel with Laura on several occasions. When Yaneth’s church organized food pantries to help supply the needs of her community, she encouraged Laura to get a bag for her family.

Slowly, Laura’s disposition toward Christians began to change.

Yaneth invited her to the Festival and was able to witness the moment the Lord touched Laura’s heart at the event. Right there, Laura decided to repent of her sins and surrender her life to Christ.

“That night, she received a book called Living in Christ… The most amazing thing,” said Yaneth, “was that the day after, she told the pastor that she had already read the entire book and that she wanted to talk to him about it in depth because she had some questions.”

A Light in the Darkness

In the area of the city known as Páramo de la Culata, witchcraft has become a common practice. When Ninoska de Gutierres was walking in the area, she saw a sign advertising “Witchcraft” in a house where she also saw lots of children playing.

Led by the Holy Spirit, she decided to walk in and hand out invitations to the Family Festival. As Ninoska was leaving, 10-year-old Yair* got her attention and asked Ninoska if she could convince his grandmother to let the family attend Festikids.

After a long conversation, the grandmother agreed.

At the Festival, the grandmother was surprised to see Yair and her four other grandchildren pray during Festikids to invite Jesus to come into their hearts.

That day, the light of Christ entered this household and a seed was planted in this woman’s heart, who a few days later decided to visit Ninoska’s church for the first time.

BGEA

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During the first weekend of July, the city of Mérida in the Andes Mountains of northwestern Venezuela welcomed a two-day evangelistic outreach in which tens of thousands of people heard