Gilbert and Aurora: Welcome to Coro! We are Gilbert and Aurora Rodriguez, merchants in the city of Coro and we would like to tell you about our state and its people. (use close-up scene in front of store—)
Arline/Carl: Gilbert and Aurora make their home in Coro, the capital of the state of Falcon. The city of Coro is located on the northern coast of Venezuela about 6 hours west of the capital of Caracas. Falcon is a very hot and dry region and is called the Land of the Winds. It is known for the Medanos, more than 200 acres of towering sand dunes that separate the two major population centers of Coro and Punto Fijo.
Punto Fijo, 50 miles North of Coro, is a young, bustling city established less than 40 years ago whose lifeblood is petroleum. The major employer is PDVSA, the Venezuelan petroleum company. The well being of the people, in large measure, fluctuates with the price of oil. Located here is the world’s largest refinery and the United States’ single greatest source of petroleum.
Unlike Punto Fijo, Coro has ancient roots. Founded in 1527, it was the first settlement of Spanish conquistadors in the Western Hemisphere. The United Nations has designated Coro as a center of cultural heritage in the new world.
The streets, homes, and businesses of Coro reflect this heritage. Its people have traditional values. They are educated, cultured, proud and independently confident.
The cathedral spire marks the center of town and appears prominently on tourist brochures. Throughout the city, the steeples of countless churches identify places of worship. In the plaza is a monument containing the original cross that the Spanish priests carried ashore in the sixteenth century.
From all appearances, Coro is a religious city. Many people take time to offer prayers in their churches. Yet the faces of the people reflect the loneliness and lack of hope they feel. The church focuses on the Christ child or Christ on the cross. Little is mentioned of the resurrected and reigning Lord. Thus, the people have not heard the message of hope and joy that He offers.
In addition, the church has allowed its message to be adulterated by the culture. For example, many committed church members go to this desert shrine to pray to their dead ancestors and ask for their help.
On the other hand, if life is not going well, a trip may be made to purchase some special potions. Not uncommon would be a visit to a local bruja, or witch, to receive a word of advice.. Spiritism, witchcraft, and idolatry all prevail.
Most of the professional class recognize the futility of the traditional religion and have abandoned it for the pursuit of fame, fortune, and success. In whatever free time they have, they seek some form of diversion to fill the emptiness of their lives.
Gilbert: My family, the Rodriguez clan, consists of 6 brothers and 2 sisters. It is no different from the average professional family.
Carl: These brothers and sisters are successful in their careers. They work hard and have tremendous respect for their parents but the family basically has no time for God. They are more concerned with making money. They are more concerned with saving face in the community. They do not want to associate with the evangelicals who are looked down upon as second-class citizens.
Carl: There are very few evangelical churches in Falcon. Most are small, Pentecostal groups situated almost exclusively in the poorer neighborhoods. Also located on the edge of Coro are a few other growing evangelical congregations.
But now there is hope for the professionals of Falcon. Missionaries, Mike and Jan Bennett, professionals themselves, have come to Venezuela with a burden to reach their colleagues for Christ.
A mission team has been formed consisting of International Mission Board Missionaries, Mike and Jan, and four Venezuelan couples, all of whom are committed to sharing the gospel with their fellow professionals of Falcon.
The team is called UPE, the Union of Successful Professionals. The goal is to share the gospel with the professionals of the State of Falcon so that they will become discipled followers of Jesus Christ. This must be done in a manner that addresses their felt needs. The desire of the Team is that these new followers of Jesus will favorably impact their society and form the basis of a church planting movement.
To make contacts with professionals, Jan Bennett teaches English as a second language classes where English is taught using the Gospel of Mark. In this way, the Gospel is heard and English is learned at the same time. Conferences are also sponsored that address topics of interest to professionals – how to be successful, how to manage time, how to diminish stress and how to enhance communication in one’s business and personal life. At the close of the conferences, professionals are invited to attend weekly seminars where the topics are discussed in greater detail and from a Biblical perspective. At the end of the seminars, participants are invited to attend an evangelistic Bible study if they are interested in deepening their spiritual life.
Finally, new believers are incorporated into weekly cell groups. From these cell groups, new churches will emerge where professionals will feel comfortable to attend and to invite their family and friends. Some people have accepted the Lord and been baptized.
The cell groups come together on Sunday for worship, prayer and the study of God’s Word.
One person whose life has been changed is Reina. Listen to her testimony. (Reina’s comments here)
Alejandro is an ophthalmologist who has also invited Jesus into his life. (Alejandro’s comments here)
Professionals from all walks of life are being attracted to this new ministry. The ministry touches felt needs; it is non-confrontational; and through it the professional is able to see, for the first time in his or her life, that the Bible has relevance to everyday life. Professionals are learning that they can have true meaning and purpose in life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Aurora: We cannot do this ministry alone. The needs are too many and the resources are too few. We need your help so that our family, and hundreds of others just like it, can be reached with the gospel message.
Mike and Jan: Would you be willing to help us and our friends in Falcon? You can begin today by committing to be a prayer partner. Give us your name and address or e-mail and we will send you our newsletters so you can lift up the professionals of Falcon to our Father’s throne of grace.
If you are a professional, would you consider coming to Falcon for a week or two and sharing your testimony with your colleagues here? In this way, they can see that one can be successful and a Christian at the same time.
Please continue your generous giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering and Cooperative Program. Your offerings will continue to support us and provide funds for other personnel to come and work along side us.
In conclusion, we want to share with you a promise that God has given us from His Word in regard to our ministry. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Will you join us in this ministry?
(CLOSING: BAPTISM SCENE WITH MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND AND OVERLAY:
I am making a way in the desert)