| Church Work
|| Child sponsor program
FELM’s partner organisation in Venezuela is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Venezuela (IELV). The Church’s work is focused on training and diaconal activities. Most of the country’s Lutheran churches are situated in poor, densely populated districts, where children and young families are in the majority. FELM also supports children in four districts through its child sponsorship programme.
FELM supports the work of IELV in four cities. IELV’s congregations are found in widely differing areas. Some are found in relatively affluent and safe areas, while others are found in poor densely populated areas. FELM also supports IELV’s national-level work, through its project office and through theological training for lay workers.
The mission centre founded by the Barquisimeto church and supported by FELM focuses on Sunday school work, support teaching and proclamation work. On the edge of the city of Barinas, the La Esperanza church is a place of safety for the people living in the area, which is rife with drugs and violence. Music is one of the strengths of the young church. The Church also emphasizes youth, women’s and family work.
FELM supports the child protection and family work carried out by IELV churches. The churches’ diaconal work aims to strengthen women’s and indigenous groups’ human rights. Churches also provide some health services including family planning, teaching on health issues and distributing medicines.
Many Guajiro indians live in north-west Venezuela, near the city of Maracaibo. Illiteracy is high among the Guajiro or Wayuu and many children remain outside the official education system. Many Guajiro cannot afford health care. IELV has founded a cultural centre and church for the Guajiro people, where Guajiro culture is maintained. The centre also provides literacy classes, support teaching and preventive healthcare for children. The ethnographic material collected by the centre is also used by the local university. Church land has also been used to provide emergency shelter for flood victims.
In the city of Valencia IELV carries out social work among abandoned children. The Church runs a shelter for children and young people, the Casa Hogar, and also a pre-school in the poor San Blas area. The Church also carries out extensive women’s work. For example, in San Blas there are 2 – 3 women’s group meetings every week. Through these groups many women have been given the confidence to found small businesses and through them have been able to earn more money for their families. Women’s own networking and peer support has also been valuable.