FIELD REPORT – Roberto Torres was on the ground in Colombia, helping Operation Blessing respond to the needs of Venezuelan refugees.
COLOMBIAN BORDER – Flies buzzed all around. The smell of feces lingered in the humid air of the decrepit, open-air shelter where Venezuelan families stopped to recover from the strenuous three-to-five-day walking journey.
Forced by the socioeconomic collapse and humanitarian crisis in their country, these Venezuelan refugees had crossed into Cúcuta, Colombia and had walked up the perilous Colombian mountainside—malnourished, dehydrated, and in need of basic medical aid.
This is the heart-wrenching reality for thousands of Venezuelan refugees, but on this day, the staggering need brazenly stared us down at the resting place in Bochalema. A foul, murky river was the huddle spot for the bedraggled migrants to soak their feet, and, shockingly, to fill up their water bottles.
Children were drinking from this polluted river, and the majority were suffering from diarrhea and stomach infections.
As my colleagues from Operation Blessing began to set up a high-tech water filtration system to provide clean, drinking water, a young Venezuelan boy by the name of Emmanuel began to chat with me. I asked him if he knew the meaning of his name. He smiled and said he didn’t.
Looking straight into his eyes, I told him, “Your name means ‘God is with us’. Emmanuel, I want you to know that no matter how hard it gets, in all this suffering and hardship, God is with you. Jesus is not going to leave you. You can pray to Him, and God will answer you, because He loves you.”
A few minutes later, he was drinking from the water filtration system, which pumped the polluted river water and converted it to clean, potable water.
On this day, Emmanuel and hundreds of other Venezuelan children saw the love of God in a real, tangible way. Our words were not empty; they were life-giving and provided a vital resource for their survival.
This was possible thanks to the generous support of Operation Blessing partners who, like you, have joined our mission to demonstrate God’s love by alleviating human need and suffering around the world.
Yet the need is ever growing. As Emmanuel and thousands of Venezuelan refugees travel for hundreds of miles to cities in Colombia and neighboring countries, clean drinking water is paramount. We need your support to mobilize and set up more water filtration systems along the route.
Coming back home to Virginia Beach, to my wife, to a safe home, to running water, I can’t forget Emmanuel’s face. I want him to continue experiencing that God is truly with him. We have the privilege and opportunity to show him and thousands of others the truth of Jesus’ comforting presence in the midst of adversity and suffering.
Thank you for not forgetting Emmanuel and standing with us.