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Venezuela 35-Day

This morning, we had the opportunity to share the drama at another school.  Our contacts shared with us that one of the reasons the schools are welcoming us is because the youth of today are headed in a bad direction.  They are acting up in school and the administration recognizes that the bad decisions the students are making have to be changed from the attitudes of the students and not from more rules coming down to them.  What better way to have a transformation than through inviting Christ into your school?!

Among all the sites today, however, one stands out.  We had the opportunity to share Christ in a juvenile detention center.  There were several restrictions on what we were even allowed to bring into the center, and we were praying they would allow us to bring our props in.  The Lord provided people of favor, and we were allowed to bring in what we needed to present the drama.

As we were walking through the halls, the pastor’s wife stopped to shake a boy’s hand and speak to him.  Their rooms are like cells, with bars for one wall.  The boy spoke to the student who was in line behind the pastor’s wife, and during the drama, this particular student was moved to pray for him.  After we had presented the drama and were leaving, this boy called out to the student and thanked us for coming, giving this one person a bracelet in gratitude.

For those who had the opportunity to view the drama, the men were able to minister to them freely afterwards.  Several who were there gave their lives to Christ, but our students were still grieved over one who chose not to surrender.  We recalled the promise, though, that God’s word does not return void.  The people at this detention center were so thankful that we had taken the time to come to this place, to give them good news.  So many times they are forgotten, but today, they were not.  Jesus knows their names, and now some of them are His sons!

This evening as we fellowshipped and shared a meal of fried chicken and arrepas, we were even able to share with the proprietor of the restaurant.  He was not a believer, but he was so grateful for us coming to Venezuela, Guanare, and in particular, his restaurant, that when the pastor ordered five chickens for us to eat, the owner gave us six.  The pastor was astonished!  This kind of thing does not happen in businesses here, and it was especially surprising that it occurred when the man was yet to believe.  We are thankful for God’s blessings, in the small things (like an extra chicken) and the big things (new believers!).

Thank you for continuing to pray for our team.  Please pray for God to orchestrate divine encounters for us tomorrow and that we will have eyes to see them and ears to hear His promptings.

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney

PS:  Some of the pictures you will see in today’s update are from a team building exercise we did this afternoon.

Today was a very full day of ministry.  There are so many churches that want to work with us here in Guanare that we are working with one in the morning and another in the afternoon for the whole time we are in this city.  So today, we worked, and had the opportunity to present the drama seven times!

Four of these seven were in schools.  It is so encouraging to us that public schools allow Christ to be presented to their students.  We were able to minister without any restrictions, and that is an awesome thing!  There are many students who gave their lives to Christ today and many more who had seeds planted in their lives.  At one of the schools, however, the students were so enthralled to see the “gringos” that we pray they did not miss the point of the drama:  Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, it was beautiful to hear such young voices lifting up to the Lord asking Him to come into their lives.

At the last school we were in, one of our ministry teams went up to speak to a group of teachers who had watched the drama.  As they were speaking with them, one said she was already a Christian, and another nodded along but seemed unsure of her beliefs.  However, as they were conversing, another lady who had not seen the drama walked up and started to listen.  In the end, this lady gave her heart to Christ!

As we were doing the sixth drama, the pastor of the church came up to the leaders and asked if we could do just one more drama.  Of course!  He said they had been out looking for people to invite to this one when they happened upon a cancha where a basketball team was practicing.  They asked permission to bring the drama to them, and the coach agreed.  It was very exciting to share with this group; they were very open to the Gospel, and the coach very enthusiastically surrendered his life to the Lord.

Thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to pray for strength for the team, as they will be challenged to press on tomorrow after having put in seven dramas today.  Please pray that our focus will be on Jesus and not on anything else.  Thank you for your continued support!

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney

Hello from Guanare!  We have moved cities yet again, and we will be working here in Guanare, the hometown of our contact, Pastor Jorge, for about a week. 

Our time in Barinas ended well.  On Sunday, the leaders had the opportunity to preach in different churches.  The Venezuelan churches are very welcoming, as they enthusiastically receive us as part of their own.  In the afternoon, we worked with the Light of the World Church.  They had planned for us to present the drama in a cancha, but it rained all afternoon, and when it rains in Barinas, no one comes outside.  After spending time in our MOM and POP groups, we set up to do the drama in the church, because one teenage boy had shown up to see the performance.  The church thought we were crazy to perform for only one, but we knew that this boy matters to God, so he matters to us.  After the drama, one of our students had the opportunity to converse with him, and the boy shared how he had used to attend church but had quit.  When he heard about this drama group, though, he thought he would give it another shot, and as a result, he recommitted his life to Christ. 

Monday brought us to a school.  We had back to back performances during first the junior high and then the high school recesses.   The high school students were very attentive, and responded well when our students went to minister to them.  Even though some may have gone through the motions because their friends were doing it, our students recognized the fact that it was exciting that the church had information to be able to follow up with them and tell them more about Jesus, no matter what their decision may have been.

We were also able to return to a plaza we had been at earlier in the week, Plaza del Estudiantes.  This drama was not on the schedule originally, but with some extra time on our hands, we knew we needed to be busy about His work.  Even though our contacts had not scheduled this drama, God had.  As the students went out to minister, a man walked up to a group, and one of our students began to share with him about Jesus.  The student spoke very quickly because the student was afraid the man would walk away since he seemed to be in a hurry.  He did not rush away, though, but stayed and heard the Gospel and received it.  He was very eager to get plugged into a church, so the students introduced him to the pastor we were working with, and he gave him the church’s information. 

This afternoon, we are resting and enjoying some time of fellowship.  This evening we will be having some corporate worship and then teaching.  Please pray that the students will receive what God is saying to them with open hearts.  Please pray that in the midst of continuing to minister through the drama that the reality of what Christ has done through us will be fresh in our minds.   Thank you for your continued support!

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney

We received a text message from Kenny, the Country Coordinator, that the internet in Venezuela has been sporadic.  They will update when possible. Continue to pray for the team as God is moving in Venezuela. Our missionaries are gathering a number of God-stories and will come home and share with you what great things He has done.

Walker Moore, President/Founder, Awe Star Ministries

Saturday was a big day for our team.  The morning was spent in a small village area about an hour outside Barinas.  Pastor Jorge told us that it was very difficult to start a church in this area because there are women who practice witchcraft in this village.  During the time we were there, we presented the drama twice to large groups of children and teenagers.  The church fed us lunch, and it was humbling to see their love and servants’ hearts when their church consisted of a concrete slab with plastic chairs, and a tin roof overhead.  It was a good reminder that the church is truly the people it is composed of and not the building itself.

In the afternoon, we were back in Barinas proper, and we had the opportunity to present in an area near a school.  There was a man sitting on this red scooter watching the drama.  This person was laid on the hearts of our team, and they began praying for him.  During the drama, though, he left, which was saddening.  As the drama progressed, the students realized he had returned, and he had brought his daughter with him.  Afterwards, one of the students ministered to him, and he and his daughter both believed in Jesus.  What a way to come to Christ!

The evening brought us to a mall where we performed the drama not once but twice!  We set up at the main entrance, and people began gathering around us, and people began gathering above us too.  The mall is three stories, and we were in a place that could be seen from all three stories, and people gathered around the balcony on both the second and third floors in addition to the large crowd that was on the main floor.  Both times we did the drama, we received this response.  Once the drama was over, many people disappeared, but we were thankful to have the opportunity to minister to those who were seeking souls, hungering to know Christ.  One of the sisters of the church who orchestrated our being in the mall was overwhelmed with the response, so excited to see salvation coming to her city.

We know that the harvest that is coming in is by the grace of God, and He is working through your prayers as well.  Thank you for praying for us.  Please continue to pray for us as we work here, that Jesus will work through us as He brings His salvation.

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney

Hello dear friends and family!

The day before leaving Merida, we took a small road trip to a town in the mountains. The church there was overjoyed to host us, and they had set up for us an incredible opportunity to minister. They organized a party at their church where many people came to watch a concert followed by our drama presentation. Not only were many people present, but also the entire event was broadcast to countless others on a local television station. By our personal ministry, we saw several people come to faith in Christ, and we trust that God has worked in the lives of those who saw His gospel on television.

Next, we visited a school down the road from this church. The students were ecstatic to minister in an elementary school for the first time this summer. The children at the school, ages 4-10, were finishing up their schoolwork and preparing to leave when we arrived. As we set up for the drama, the children were bubbling with excitement as they waited to see what the Americans had for them. More than a scary dragon and an energetic sword fight, we had brought the Gospel of Peace. After our presentation, our students asked if the children wanted to receive Christ, and the resounding “Si!!” made it evident that God was at work. We said goodbye to these precious children after praying with them and sharing many hugs.

With plenty of bus rides today, we had a lot of time to focus on and worship our Creator. The Holy Spirit pulled our team together despite cultural differences as we lifted up praise to Him in two languages, knowing that He hears and understands both. Even more than that, we were able to cross language barriers as the American students taught our Venezuelan girls English songs, and our Venezuelans taught us their praise songs as well. As we continued to break down the language barriers, one of our MOM groups took the time to learn their favorite scriptures in both English and Spanish. God is truly bringing our team together in incredible ways that only He can.

Finally, we finished today by taking another road trip to an outlying town, where we performed the drama twice in the main plaza. Despite the many distractions such as loud music and blaring advertisements, God drew a crowd out of that small town to witness His life-changing Good News. God was not finished. We set up to perform the drama a second time, and though the town was home to only a handful of people, He drew a whole new crowd to see His glory revealed through the drama. One of our students set out to talk to a woman watching the drama, only to have the woman walk away before she got there. This summer, we have learned that our disappointments are God’s divine appointments, and our student searched for another ministry opportunity. God had a very specific plan, and our student soon found not only a person to talk to, but a whole family. After thoroughly explaining the gospel, God showed us what His plan was the whole time: to redeem and save this family. As we traveled back to our hotel, we praised God for the salvations we had witnessed this day.

Please continue to pray for fruitful ministry, team unity across cultures, and that our hearts stay filled with His joy.

Your Team Directors,

Craig and Karen

Today reminded us of the Great Commission.  Jesus has told us, “As you go, make disciples of all nations…”  This morning we left Merida and began our journey to Barinas.  However, as we went, we had the opportunity to stop and do two dramas.  As we went, we were sharing the Gospel.  The first place was a town called Tabay, and there is not really a functioning church in that area.  One of the pastors we worked with in Merida lives close to Tabay and has a desire to grow a church there, so we were able to come alongside him and help work so that he could gain some contacts.

The other opportunity we had was to be in the town of Las Piedras.  This was the last mountain town we will be in for this trip.  When we pulled up to the main plaza, no one was there, and it was sprinkling.  However, we set up for the drama anyway.  School had just let out, and we attracted the attention of a group of students who were headed home for the day.  They came and watched the drama even though it was raining, and at the end, 40 of them responded to the message of Jesus.  It was a great encouragement to see God work through the rain.

Last night the pastors from Merida came to where we were staying and had a goodbye fellowship.  It was a very sweet time as they shared of their experiences this week and then we shared in worship together.  Thank you for your prayers during our time in Merida, and we ask that you would continue to pray for the people of Barinas.

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney

Hello friends and family! Today, we were able to minister at three different universities, where we saw many of Venezuela’s most educated young people come to know Christ. In the morning, we visited the Merida Pharmacy School, and God showed up. During the drama, one of our students felt called to minister to a group of future Pharmacy technicians. As soon as this student saw the group, she began to pray for them. Though the group was distracted at first, as she prayed the Holy Spirit drew their attention to the gospel presentation. After the drama finished, she made a beeline for this group and began to share her heart. Because of her obedience to the Holy Spirit’s calling, we were privileged to see God change the lives of these young people.

After a traditional lunch, we traveled to the Merida School of Engineering. Before performing the drama in the courtyard, our students went into the school to invite the engineering students to come and see our gospel presentation. By the time we began the drama, a large crowd had gathered to watch. Though we set the stage in an empty courtyard, God was faithful to draw numerous people unto Himself, and many came to know Him.

We wrapped up our day at a women’s dorm on yet another university campus. At this particular site, we performed the drama on the smallest stage we have yet encountered. Despite the inconvenient space, our students poured their hearts out in worship through the drama. Afterwards, one eager student engaged in ministry to a few women. When asked if the women wanted a relationship with Christ, they responded that they already had this relationship. Thankful for these sisters, our student began to pray with them, when one girl spoke up from the back, saying “Wait! I do not have a relationship with Christ, but I want it.” Once again, we were blessed to see God’s transforming power in the lives of the people here in Venezuela.

Please pray for continued good health, spiritual growth, and persistent team unity.

Craig & Karen

This morning, we were blessed to have a time of rest.  The students were able to sleep in and then have some extended time in the Word.  We followed that up with some cooperate worship and MOM/POP time.  We have had four Venezuelan young women join our team for the duration of the summer.  In addition to ministering with us, they are hoping to learn some English, so the MOMs were presented with the challenge to teach them a worship song in English.  We had a test following MOM time, and it was a beautiful sound.  The POP group worked on learning the “Traits of a God-Fearing Woman” that we were presented with at ASU.

This afternoon, we had the opportunity to do four presentations in two different plazas.  Each city in Venezuela has three main plazas, and we visited the top two of those three today for the city of Merida.  At the first site, one of our students met a man named Zeal who is a Muslim.  He congratulated them on their performance and said it was a very good story, but he does not believe it.  Zeal said that if they met again, they could talk more, and then he walked off.  The student was very excited to have shared but saddened of the rejection of Christ.  The pastors we are working with have reminded us many times, though, that we are to plant the seed, and we are to water the seed, that is our work, but it is God who gives the increase.

When He does give the increase, we will praise Him for it, as we did when we moved to the second plaza.  We arrived at the next place and set up for the drama, and the police came around to do a permit check.  By the time the pastors finished talking to them, we had already begun the drama.  These two officers were eventually satisfied by the permit, and they stepped aside and watched the drama.  At the end of the drama, one ministry team went over and began to share with these two officers.  One was a believer already, but the other gave her life to Christ.  Her partner rejoiced with her and the team to see her become a believer, and we praised God because He gave the increase.

Tomorrow, we will be working with a young church that has only been around for a couple years.  Their vision is to reach the young people in the area, those who will soon be leaders in the community, the country, and the world.  As part of our day tomorrow, we will visit some of the university campuses in the area.  Please pray for these people to have open hearts.  College students are often seeking something; please pray that tomorrow they will find Christ.  Thank you for continuing to support us with your prayers.

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney

Happy Father’s Day!  You have been in our thoughts and prayers today as we remember you.  Since we are not with you today, it has been a good reminder that God is our Heavenly Father, and we are to celebrate Him and honor Him too.

The Venezuelan pastors have been so happy to work with us, that several of them invited groups to preach.  In order to accommodate all the pastors, we split up into four church groups, and each of the leaders had the opportunity to preach today.

Saturday afternoon brought some very moving ministry sites.  The first was in a cancha (a soccer field), and after our students spent time inviting people, around thirty people came to watch the drama.  Following the drama, one of our ministry teams went to speak with two young men.  During the conversation, the boys mocked the Gospel and scoffed at what our students were sharing.  As we pulled the team together to discuss what God had done in this place, one of those students from that team was moved to tears, heartbroken over the boys’ complete rejection of the Gospel.

The following site took a lot of effort to reach, as we climbed and climbed and climbed stairs.  Just when we thought we had arrived, the pastors turned a corner, and there were more stairs to climb.  We reached the site, which was outside the community center for a place called “Milagrosas.”  With the music blaring, the students performed the drama, and people would come out of their houses to watch.  Children would run up and down the stairs surrounding this place just trying to see what was going on.  After the drama, a group of children gathered, and the student from the previous site was moved to tears again, this time happy tears, because many of these children had accepted Christ.  Oh His redeeming love!

Thank you for your prayers.  Please pray for us to continue to grow together and abandon ourselves to worship and serve Him completely.

Your Country Coordinators,

Kenny & Whitney