"Those who have had great privileges and opportunities, and who have failed to improve their physical, mental and moral powers, … are in greater danger and in greater condemnation before God than those who are in error upon doctrinal points, yet who seek to do good to others.” Evangelism, p.575.
Bethani King - musician, teacher, translator, hiker, evangelist, Big Lake staff member, friend of the needy––is in the country of Colombia, traveling the Venezuelan refugee trail from Venezuela through Cucuta to Bucaramanga and Tunja where the refugees hope to find jobs and better lives. Bethani’s father, Art, has come along on this trip, to walk with his girl. Their goal is to travel with the refugees and visit all 13 of the “shelters” on the Red Humanitaria trail, helping out where they can.
Each shelter is a “one-day only” stop. Walkers have to keep walking, because the next day will bring another flood of people who will fill the shelter to capacity again. Most of the shelters are run by a church, or a small foundation. Some are run by individuals or families. There is only one large NGO present - Samaritan’s Purse - and they run the two largest shelters.
All shelters provide food, as available, and beds, as available, and compassion, always.
Rufugio #5, Marta’s House, for instance, is a small home right on Route 66 where theVenezuelans are walking. She opened her home in January of 2018 when she realized the Venezuelan refugees were walking without food or money to buy food, with broken shoes, muddy clothes, and hollow eyes hiding shreds of hope that they might find a better life in Colombia. She has not missed a day of feeding and hosting Venezuelan walkers since. She feeds 300 people per day, but only has “sleep space” for about 50 women and children.
Ask Marta how she affords to buy food for so many people, and she looks upwards, putting a hand over her heart. Her shelter operates completely from her own limited income and sporadic donations.
"It's not just food we must buy!” Marta reminds us. “There’s dish soap for the hundreds of dishes that have to be washed every single day, laundry soap for all the bedding, electricity for the hot water, and – the expense that tends to get cut first – cooking gas for the huge pots of rice and beans.”
“$60 of gas will cook 300 daily meals for about 15 days,” Marta says. “When it runs out, we cook over a wood fire until we have enough money to buy more gas.”
Marta was out of cooking gas the day Bethani and her Dad visited. A local man showed up with this bundle of sticks on his back, and Marta pointed. "Look - natural gas!"
If you'd like to learn more about Bethani, look for her on Facebook, (https://www.facebook.com/bethaniking), or on Instagram (@bethaniking)