by Scott and Marisela Luper
Over the past few months, we have seen notable progress of the gospel in the Venezuelan universities. In Caracas, we have focused our efforts on the Universidad Simón Bolivar and the Universidad Centrál de Venezuela, which we believe to be the two key universities in the region.
On the Universidad Centrál campus, where there are approximately 60,000 students, events have occurred which have drawn the students’ attention to God and His Word. During July, we helped an evangelistic Christian theater group named Teen Mania present their well known drama “Toymaker and Son” on the campus. The team performed in many of the different schools on the university.
While presenting “Toymaker and Son” at the School of Economics, where there is a strong communist influence, some of the leftist students tried to sabotage the show. The communists kicked and pushed the members of the team and tried to destroy and steal the sound system. This created a stir between the communists and the spectators who wanted to see the event.
Teen Mania opted to leave without finishing their drama to avoid trouble, but the on-lookers remained and their arguments with the communists lasted all day. Many protests were made by the spectators regarding the violation of freedom of expression. Because of this confrontation, the Dean of the School of Economics, who is also a communist, organized a forum entitled “The Presence of Maranatha on the University Campus and Its Implications.”
Many people attended this forum and it has served to promote the gospel more than we could possibly have hoped. Many students began to show a great interest in the activities of Maranatha and this has served as an open door to share Jesus with them. Other Christian groups, hearing of our problems with the communists, have decided to join with us and we are now all meeting, praying and working together to build God’s Kingdom on the Universidad Centrál campus.
Universidad Simón Bolivar has approximately 8,000 students and is considered to be the best university in the country. Over the past few months, the number of members attending our home groups has increased as has the number of attending visitors. There have always been strongholds of pride and intellectualism on this particular campus, but recently there has been a change in the spiritual environment and an unusual openness to the gospel.
About two months ago, we distributed a newsletter which gave the Christian perspective on some current events. This gave students the chance to see that Christians are in touch with the issues that confront our generation and that the Bible has real answers to today’s problems. Many students became aware of our presence on this campus through this publication.
But the progress of the gospel on Venezuelan universities has not been limited to Caracas. During the month of August, a meeting entitled “The First Encounter of Venezuelan Christian University Students” took place in the small coastal city of Puerto La Cruz. For the first time in the history of Venezuela, Christian students from all over the country and from all denominations met together.
More than 500 students attended this conference and the central theme was the unity of the Body of Christ. There were seminars on themes such as “The Christian in Politics” and “How to Evangelize the Universities.” The atmosphere was one of cooperation and the presence of the Holy Spirit was over all of the meetings. Students were challenged to take their universities for the glory of God, and to work together as one with brothers and sisters of all parts of the Body of Christ.
The Venezuelan edition of The Forerunner, “El Precursor,” has been printed. Five hundred of the 5,000 copies issued were distributed to the Christians in the Puerto La Cruz meeting and the rest are being distributed on the university campuses. The first issue consists of four pages and is specifically targeted for university students.
We intend to publish this newspaper every month, to distribute it on all major university campuses, and to send it to all secular and Christian leaders in the nation. We believe that this paper will play a major role in the coming move of the Holy Spirit.
Testimonies from Caracas, Venezuela
I constantly used to ask myself questions like: “What is life for?,” “What is life’s meaning?,” “How can one really find happiness?” and “What is my purpose in the world?” I never found anyone who could give me convincing answers to these questions and this frustrated me terribly.
But today, glory to God!, I live in Christ. I not only have the answers, but I also have a new life full of love and mercy. The Lord showed me that my role in this world is to be a warrior for His Gospel, that happiness is found in knowing Him, and that the goal of life is to live in His promises and in righteousness by the power of the Father, for the glory of His Son Jesus.
When I was young, my parents separated and this affected me deeply; I became very depressed and introverted as a result. At 12 years old, I began to drink compulsively and by 14 I was consuming cocaine. I lived a totally disordered life and frequently spent nights in the streets getting high with friends. At 18, I had a terribly frightening experience with marijuana from which I had difficulty recovering.
I had heard the Gospel by this age and experienced a temporary reform as a result of its message, but I did not totally surrender my life to Jesus Christ and shortly thereafter returned to drugs – this time with the added torment of conviction of sin.
I decided to move to Caracas where I met a Christian girl living in the same residence who preached to me. I repented with all of my heart and made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. As a result of being totally committed to Jesus, I’m now living a life full of victory by His grace.
I was a rock & roll fanatic, and therefore attended a Maranatha Rock Seminar at my university. I went with the intention of criticizing the Christians, but that day God broke my hardness of heart, so much so that I could not even speak after seeing this presentation.
Three weeks after this, I attended a Maranatha church meeting and it was here that the Lord showed me the price that I would have to pay to follow Him. I repented with all my heart and asked God to please forgive me. After this experience, a great zeal for God began to fill me.
Now I know that the Lord has mercy on His creatures and that we can fully trust Him.
My life consisted of parties, girlfriends, alcohol and cigarettes. When I heard about Jesus Christ, I thought that belief in Him was something for older people, thinking it would be better to live out my youth without restraints. I was unsatisfied with my life, however, and felt that it was monotonous and empty.
When I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I experienced a 180 degree turnabout in my relationship with God and found real life! Now I know that being a Christian isn’t having a “religion,” but letting Christ truly change your life. This is the decision that every person needs to make.
Now I feel full of love, and free of all vices and wickedness, thanks to Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross.