26 Aug 2008




It is difficult to get the soil to produce a crop here in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela. The soil is rocky. The fields are small and located on steep slopes. Water must be piped to the fields for irrigation.


Flight to Mérida – view of city

Within view of many of these small farms is the city of Mérida … a modern city of over 300,000 people that is punctuated by busy streets, large Catholic churches and constant reminders of the national hero, Simon Bolivar. Even the currency of the country, the Bolivares, is named for this hero. A large university is also located here.

The First Baptist Church of Mérida is located on the edge of the city. This is the largest Baptist church in the State of Mérida. Pastor Samuel Burgos and his congregation are reaching out to both the city and surrounding communities. Other national Baptist churches also strive to tell the good news that Jesus is THE Savior not just A savior.

Mérida is the most popular tourist destination in Venezuela. This popularity is easily understood by simply looking around.

(transition to road in mountains, calf on slope/observatory)

Among the spectacular scenery in this land is this 14,000 ft. mountain pass along the Trans Andean Highway called Pico El Aguila, which means the "Eagle’s Peak". Nearby in the clear mountain air is the world-class observatory of Llano el Hato. The 16,500 ft. mountain of Pico Bolivar can be seen from the city.


The Venezuelan Andes occupy a land area that stretches across rugged mountains some 150 miles in length. Unfortunately, these mountains pose many obstacles to modernization, transportation, and communication. Many of the isolated pueblos are accessible only in four-wheel-drive vehicles because of steep, narrow, crooked, and poorly maintained roads. Mudslides are common in the rainy season. A few of these villages are accessible only on foot or by mule packs.


Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy in each and every sector of the three Andean states. What about the farmers that must farm the steep slopes of these mountains … those that must till these fields to plant potatoes, onions, cabbage, corn, broccoli, tomatoes, plantains, and coffee. They seem a world apart from the life in Mérida. They are the ones that must work with the oxen or horses, fertilize the plants, irrigate their crops, and worry about getting the produce to market. The farmers must face a gauntlet of roadblocks, detours, and bribes to be able to cultivate and market their produce.


Generations of isolation have made the Andeans a very family-oriented people. Their extended family is the single most important thing to the Andeans. Relatives are their closest friends and coworkers. The Andeans tend to live, work, worship, and play as an extended family. One’s future employment, social standing, and education usually depend upon one’s family relations.

The farmers have a deep spiritual conviction. We see this along the roadsides, in their homes, out in the middle of a dry river but this conviction is empty. The churches are empty. The parish priest is seldom at the church. Andeans have mixed their folk superstitions with Roman Catholicism. The unifying theme is a radical devotion to Mary. Andeans also worship various patron saints including El Doctor in the hope for a better life.

(transition to plow)

Tools must be used to expose the empty religious practices and allow the farmers to recognize that their greatest need is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the tools is providing help with their farming.

Listen to Ovidio Robledo, President of the Sower Agricultural Foundation as he tells us about this.

(interview with Ovidio with background pictures)

(scenes soil test/Gonzalez farm)

The Sower Foundation is making soil tests available for the farmers on these slopes. With a better understanding of the soil and crop practices, professional agricultural people in the U.S. will be able to provide sound advice on how to improve their crop yield.

The effectiveness of this evangelistic tool was clearly demonstrated during the visit to videotape this soil test when Eli Gonzalez, the owner of the field expressed an interest in knowing why these men were helping him in this way. This opening gave the opportunity to share the Gospel. He asked that these new friends return to his farm.

(scenes of Ken and Alison)

Another tool is teaching English to school children as well as adults. Listen as Ken and Alison Blackwood work with some children in the town of Chiguara.

(scenes of Bible study at Emilio’s house in Chiguara)

Progress is slow in these villages. Few evangelical Christians can be found. Emilio and his family are probably the only evangelicals among the 20,000 to 30,000 residents of Chiguará. This family lives in a small home on a narrow street in town. After a long illness, Emilio’s wife recently died. Emilio is now left with the responsibility of raising his five children. Without money, without the finer things of life, without a momma…they have Christ here. Pray that this young man will continue to be a strong witness for Christ. The Bible study still meets in his home each week.

After traveling up another series of switchbacks, the visitor is greeted with a surprise -- the town of Pueblo Nuevo.

(Ken, Ovidio, James Pueblo Nuevo Plaza – comments by James)

Part of meeting these needs is getting to know the people in this mountain pueblo. There are farmers, store keepers, school children, and others gathered near the Plaza where the Catholic Church is located. This SOIL BREAKING provides a place for future planting of the SEEDS of the GOSPEL.

(scenes around town with people)

(Alison teaching class Pueblo Nuevo/background of street/church/entrance door)

Alison also teaches a weekly ESL class in the school in Pueblo Nuevo. The classroom just happens to be in a room at the back of the Catholic Church. These children are eager to learn English. Pray for Alison as she drives here each week.

(scenes from Gavidia)

Many villages are located on the slopes as well as in the valleys of these mountains. Gavidia, with a population of approximately 300, is one of these remote villages nestled in the Chama River Valley. As part of starting a work here, volunteers are needed who are willing to spend time sharing God’s love with these people. The town is located about 50 miles from Mérida at an elevation of 12,000 feet. The trip from Mérida requires about 2 hours over a narrow mountain road.

(scenes from the store)

This small bodega is the center of community activity. Julio Torres showed us inside his store.

(scene of sign posts)

The sign here indicates that several other villages much like this one are nearby.

(scenes from Mitibibó) Any Ryan did narration for this portion.

Several people from the United States recently came to our little village of Mitibibó and taught the children how to play basketball. They also taught stories from the Bible.

My husband and I, my children, and my grandchildren live in this house. We pray daily to the Blessed Mother for our family and the hope of a better life for this beautiful little granddaughter.

(scenes of Irene’s family)


(comments Ken and Ovidio from prayer overlook)


(Overlay following questions as they are asked.)

Will you PRAY?


Will you GIVE?


Will you GO?


(OVERLAY --scenes of oxen plowing)

Andean AgriculturE Team

Mérida, Venezuela

Forrest and Becky Bohlen

Ken and Alison Blackwood

James and Penny Hensley

Ovidio and Maribety Robledo

Craven and Jan Hudson

Jenny Lucas

International Mission Board, S.B.C.

Produced by CRF Media

Ó CRF Media 2001








(OVERLAY --scenes of oxen plowing)

Andean AgriculturE Team

Merida, Venezuela

Forrest and Becky Bohlen

Ken and Alison Blackwood

James and Penny Hensley

Ovidio and Maribety Robledos

International Mission Board, S.B.C.

Produced by CRF Media

Ó CRF Media 2001