Eleazar Bermudez is one of fourteen children. His parents had little to do with church but raised good kids. He was 13 years old and at home one afternoon when a team of two young men came to their door to share the gospel if anyone would listen. The team was made up of Lorenzo Cordero and Sangroni (first name?). They had had a very difficult afternoon with nobody inviting them in. The local priest had told the parishioners to watch out for this group since they were a "cult" and should not be listened to. When Eleazar’s mother came to the door, Sangroni had an idea, he looked at all the children in the living room, then looked at Mrs. Bermudez and said,”Ma'am I see that you have a day care center here.” Then looking at Cordero, about a foot shorter than himself he asked, “Could I leave my little boy here for a couple of hours.” Cordero was about 28 years old at the time and had lost his two front teeth from a fight. He turned his head, put on a great big smile and Eleazar’s mom couldn’t resist laughing. That broke the ice, she invited them in and the rest is history. Eleazar was the only one who accepted. Christ that day but since he has led virtually all of his siblings and his mom to Christ.
By the time Eleazar was 15 he was invited to join with several young men that Gomez had hand selected to participate in a daily discipling process. About seven of them, they would meet each day at 6:00 a.m. for Bible Study and Prayer and would spend several hours each day in the discipling process. This went on for more than two years and in the process they were sent out as missionaries on frequent trips to evangelize and plant churches. Eventually all of those men were sent to establish new churches in various areas.
In general these men were not sent out alone to begin a work. Particularly early on they were sent as a team and would spend a minimum of a month “on site” doing door to door evangelism and seeking men of peace to help start churches in each area. Most of those areas have eventually developed into viable churches and many have participated in planting other churches as well. This sort of campaign was effective in San Felipe, in Piritu and other areas. It was temporarily successful in others such as El Tocuyo but with changes in leadership, some of those mission points ended up closing. The one on el Tocuyo has been restarted through Barquisimeto over the past five years. It has just recently been constituted as a church.
Of course the real “history” cannot be told in such a short writing for it involves all the incredible miracles that God has done and does through these faithful and resourceful men and women. Just in the group we worked with this past May when I was there with Brandon and his students from Southeastern Oklahoma State University there are some great examples of this. We know the stories of Javier, formerly a gang member, and Rosa his wife. She was a member of an entire family that was saved through Eleazar’s ministry after they loss of a son in a remote village where no work had been established. Out of that same family came Janet who is the wife of Silas, the pastor in Sarare. When they first met she was a single teenaged mother with no real hope for her future. On that same trip I went door to door with a former drug dealer and the stories go on and on. Although Javier and Rosa are the pastor family for El Tocuyo, they still live in Barquisimeto and take a bus to their church each week, about one and a half hours ride. Where they live in Barquisimeto is a small two or three room adobe house where at one time each morning at 6:00 the neighbors congregated for a prayer meeting. Just a few short years ago, none of those neighbors were even Christians. They make up a good deal of the membership that is faithful to the Central church there in the city.
So I say all of that to let you see the incredible vision it takes from these men to not allow their focus to turn in towards their own situations and churches but to keep reaching out. The reality is, to do so they find themselves sending out their very best workers consistently and having the need to continually replace them in their own churches.
We are sooooooooooo blessed to be able to participate with a group of men who God has selected to make a difference in their country. We should never forget how little our part is in His success there in Venezuela. That sounds like a condemnation towards us but it is not intended as such. Reality is, even the very stones will cry out if we don’t do our part. I’m just thrilled that He found it in his sovereignty to use us.
First Fruits Ministry