AUGUST 30, 2017
NEW YORK—International media outlets have been reporting on deteriorating conditions in Venezuela set off by economic troubles. The Venezuela Branch Committee reports that our brothers and sisters have also been affected by this crisis. The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is deeply concerned by these reports.
Armed criminals have entered some Kingdom Halls during weekly meetings to steal electronic devices and other valuables. Additionally, in some cases, meetings are held in private homes because violent conflicts block access to Kingdom Halls. A number of our brothers and sisters are among those who have lost their jobs because their place of employment closed down. Some who own businesses have been targeted by criminals and gangs and, as a result, have been forced to sell their business and flee the country for their safety. Sadly, over the last few years, there have been at least 680 brothers and sisters kidnapped, over 13,146 have been victims of armed robbery, and 144 have even been victims of rape or attempted rape. Tragically, reports as of August 10, 2017, indicate that 47 of our brothers and sisters have been murdered. Some have also died because they could not obtain needed medical treatment.
The Governing Body continues to closely monitor the situation, utilizing donated funds allocated to assist brothers and sisters who are in need of basic relief supplies. The Governing Body is also communicating with other branches around the world to ascertain the most appropriate means of providing support for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela, since individual efforts to provide direct assistance can be dangerous.
The Venezuela Branch Committee has set up an emergency relief committee at the branch office that oversees 24 subcommittees throughout the country to care for the needs of our brothers. The over 149,000 publishers in Venezuela are not only enduring despite suffering severe trials during the “last days,” they are also increasing their efforts to share the Bible’s comforting message with their neighbors. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:2) Luis R. Navas, a spokesman from the Venezuela branch office, explains: “Spiritually, we have never been so prosperous. Our congregation meeting attendance has increased. More publishers are regular pioneering while at the same time exercising greater caution in the ministry. Since our neighbors know that we are strictly neutral and that we do not share in any of the criminal activity plaguing the country, they welcome the Bible-based message of hope and comfort we share.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Venezuela will continue caring for one another and comforting their neighbors. Around the world, their fellow brothers and sisters will continue to support them and pray in their behalf.—Romans 12:12, 13; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.
International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, +1-845-524-3000
Venezuela: Luis R. Navas, +58-244-400-5000