Before I even begin to write this account of our trip to Venezuela I must say that I am not political. That’s not what Dorene and I are all about. We are all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of man to be preached to every person that we come in contact with. When I was asked to go to Venezuela I did not know what condition the country was in. I did not know that they have been taught to hate Americans. I did not know that the country had so dramatically changed from a strong economy to a totally devastated poor country in just 20 years. The people are desperate, and paranoid. I am going to have to testify about some things that I saw that will prohibit me from returning to that country. Please don’t think that I am saying this tongue-in-cheek. Dorene and I were there five days and we felt that at any moment we could be arrested and put in jail. The intimidation began at the border with a one hour grilling of why we were there, what we were doing, and most importantly when we would leave. Dozens and dozens of people filed through the line entering the country, including our friends that traveled with us, while we stood to the side waiting for their decision whether or not they would allow us to go into the country. Finally a supervisor insisted that we prove with our flight information or ticket that we would leave their country. Another 20 minutes of discussion in the back of their office and they agreed to give us back our passports with a visa and allowed us to go into Venezuela. The physical crossing of the border was like being in a totally communist country. They would search everything including our persons. The drive from the border to the hotel was 70 miles and there were 15 checkpoints, I counted them. All with armed soldiers requesting us to get out of the vehicle, present the visa’s and the passports again and again, check the luggage before we were allowed to continue. What we saw as we drove through the city of Maracaibo were lines of people at the grocery stores, at the gas stations, at the pharmacy, at the government welfare building, everywhere we looked were people waiting for simple basic daily necessities. Some of our team went to the pharmacy and were allowed only one item per day. You could buy shampoo but not conditioner with it. The shelves were completely depleted. We were told women would stand in line for hours to get one diaper for their baby. I am going to tell you what God did in our meetings in a moment but I must continue to tell you that I was shocked and moved to tears over the condition of this country. The fourth largest oil producing country in the world!
A country that 22 years ago was prosperous and thriving. A country that has beautiful buildings and parks and recreation areas and car dealerships and hotels was now reduced to a shadow of it self. When you reject God and go the way of man this is what happens, and this happens in every country that is not Christian. Only the gospel brings freedom and democracy in a nation. When we got to the hotel, thank God that the manager told us, no, DO NOT use your debit or credit card here. He said call your bank before you use your card for anything and find out what rate they will charge you per dollar. I did call Key Bank and they told me the rate was 6.3 Bellario to one dollar. But the local exchange on the streets at the banks right there in Maracaibo was 183 to 1 dollar. In other words the hotel that would cost us $34 a night in their cash would cost $1020 if I used my card. Why? Because the corrupt Venezuelan government has inflated their own dollar to look better against other currencies. But the true buying power is 183 to 1. Try and picture what I’m going to tell you. As you drive through this beautiful city with gorgeous modern buildings and a huge shopping mall you see debris and garbage and homeless people and old beat up cars. All the infrastructure, all the buildings were built 25 years ago or more. When the dictator took over he ran the entrepreneurs and the moneymaking free enterprise people out of the country. He was taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Does this sound familiar. In 20 years this prosperous, wealthy, beautiful city had gone into total decline! 70% of all business owners had left the country. The huge Chevy and Ford car dealerships that used to have 1000 cars on the lot were empty and closed . No one can afford to buy a car, and I mean no one. As we traveled through the mall, this beautiful glass and tiled mall, you would not know where you were, you would think you were in Miami or New York city. But as you walk into RadioShack there’s only a dozen products on the wall. We went into a men’s clothing store that was gorgeous and would have normally 5000 suits, had only a few and we purchased the suits. Each Pastor with us got a nice men’s suit for $32 a piece. And that included tailoring. 20 years ago a woman living in Columbia would travel to Venezuela and work at a hotel or store to make 16 times the money she could make in her home country. Now the tables have totally reversed and are even worse in the other direction. We never felt safe the entire six days. We knew that at any moment we could be arrested for spying or anything else they wanted to accuse us of. Four pastors were arrested for spying on the Saturday we were there in a nearby city. At one point in the mall I had to cross through a line of people waiting to get an “item” in the grocery store. A woman cried in Spanish “we are nation”. Then the over 100 people in the line all started chanting “we are nation”! Because I was an American and crossed through their line, I didn’t jump the line, I just passed through it to get to the other side, they started chanting. “We are Nation!! We are Nation”!! I asked the local pastor what does this mean? He said they have been brainwashed to think that America is the evil Empire and we are all here just to laugh and spy on them. So this chant was to let you know they don’t need America, they don’t need any other country of the world, they are just fine. My heart breaks for these people. They are so terribly oppressed by this communist regime that calls itself socialist. Gasoline is $.30 a gallon water is over a dollar a gallon. The monthly electric bill of a citizen is $1.10 a month. So this is what brings the people to accept this government. Sound familiar? We better wake up. It is free enterprise and democracy that makes America great.
If the American people could experience what Dorene and I experienced for one day there would probably be a revolt against the government. But you boil a frog a little bit at a time. He doesn’t know the water is getting hot until it’s too late. Okay, I’m sorry I had to report all of that. And believe me that is only the tip of the iceberg to what we experienced.
Thank God while we were there we saw the miracle of salvation over and over again. The first day of the pastors conference with 220 pastors in attendance there were seven salvations. I have never given an altar call for salvation at a pastors conference before, but the Holy Spirit moved on me, and to my surprise, seven people, on a Thursday morning, at 10 o’clock, at a pastors conference, they gave their lives to Jesus! Glory to God!!!
The church in Venezuela is starving for sound doctrine. They absolutely loved the word of God those two days. They fell in love with Jesus all over again. They took their eyes off themselves, they took their eyes off their situation, they took their eyes off their government, they took their eyes off their denomination, and they put their faith back on the finished work of Jesus Christ!!! The in iminicy of Christ’s return was so heavy in the room you could cut it with the proverbial knife. The signs of the times are all around us. He will be returning soon. Jesus said “when I return will I find faith on the Earth”? The church world is so busy doing this and doing that but they have forgotten the simplicity that is in the Gospel. These were the most blessed people that I have seen as they received the expositor study Bible. What a treasure to them. When your freedoms are taken away and you’re in a desperate situation the word of God is precious! I think of how many Bibles I own? including my electronic Bibles, probably more than dozen. But some of these pastors have a Bible that is falling a part or missing pages. Thank God for the SonLife broadcasting supporters that give these bibles and Brother Swaggart’s vision to put this Bible in the hands of pastors all over the world.
On Friday night I was invited to go preach to what amounted to about 300 communist policeman in the city of Maracaibo. They came to our hotel and gave us a police escort through the city. I really did not understand why they would do this or why we were invited. But when we arrived and met the commander of all the police in that region of the country I understood. He is a Born again Christian and an Evangelist. Their faces were like stone as they looked at me from the platform. This is the hardest of the hard. These men deal with life and death situations every day.
I was told that they have instructions not to put many criminals in jail. It’s expensive. (Read between the lines). They’re very life is in danger every day. They don’t play! And the commander who addressed them in the beginning and had made this meeting mandatory, was the same way! He never smiled the entire night. I told them that they have to preserve the law and protect the people from those who break the law. That lawbreakers must be punished. But all of us have broken God’s law and that brings the punishment of death, separation from God for eternity! They didn’t move, they didn’t smile, I couldn’t tell if they were receiving the word of God or not. I asked them if they were guilty of breaking Gods law? If they would have to be punished? Would they spend eternity in heaven? There was a breakthrough!! The Holy Spirit moved among them as they squirmed in their seats. Some few in the front of the church were already saved. But the back 10 rows in this large building starting to look like it was alive. At the invitation over 100 men and women stood and gave their lives to Jesus that night!!!! What a powerful gospel!! The heart of man is deceitfully wicked above all things, who could know it? We don’t even know our heart is wicked. But there is an empty void there. It can only be filled by the love of God who gave his only begotten son that whosoever believe upon him should not perish but have everlasting life in heaven.
What I’m going to share with you next is not a coincidence, it’s not an exaggeration, it is the result of the moving and operation of the Holy Spirit in that police force. That night, that very night, in the city Maracaibo the same police force that just gave their lives to Jesus, had the largest drug bust ever recorded in their history!!! 1310 Kilos!
It was huge front page news. We had prayed for them to be safe and have favor from God! God honored their faith with signs and wonders.
The next night we had an evangelistic meeting outdoors in the streets of a nearby city. I asked Dorene to come up on the platform to give testimony of what God had done in her life. It was anointed and the Holy Spirit moved as she testified about trying to be a good girl. And on the outside looked pretty good but on the inside something was missing. She testified that she tried religion. But religion did not work. Finally after four years of searching she found Jesus! Not a religion, not a denomination, not a church, not a pastor, not a priest, not a man, but the MAN, Jesus Christ!!
Dozens and dozens of people left the shadows of the buildings, left their seats from the far back of the meeting on the street that night and came to the altar to except Jesus as their Savior! Glory to God this is the greatest miracle of all.
There was a demon possessed man there that had to be restrained from getting close to me. He kept saying to me “I know you”!! That is all he would say. Thank God we cannot really see into the Spirit world or we would probably be scared stiff.
Leaving the country was the same ordeal as getting in only this time they were happy to see us go! As I set foot on Colombian soil I thanked God for delivering us and prayed, and continue to pray even today, for those four American pastors in jail accused of spying.
We have been invited to India a few times. Also we have been invited to Pakistan and a couple of other countries in East Africa that have the same kind of Regime and I have never felt led to go. This trip was ordained by God. We did not have a check in our spirit about going. Hundreds of people were saved, hundreds of Bibles were distributed, hundreds of pastors heard the life-saving life-changing message of the cross!!! But I have to be honest I do not want to return there while this kind of Govt is in power and it has given me a burden to pray for America like never before. Our children must learn to have faith like a martyr.
We are now traveling to Paraguay and looking forward to seeing what God will do as we preach the simplicity that is in Christ.
We will be posting pictures on our website when we return to America.
Hidden in Christ,
Brother Dan w/Dorene
Preaching the cross to the lost and found
Jesus said “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father except through Me”.
There is only One way!