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Serving up hope


More than seven million Venezuelans have fled the humanitarian crisis in their home country. Many make the challenging trek to Peru. That is where Tim and Jennifer Goshorn live and work as cross-cultural witnesses (CCWs) with TMS Global. Over the past few years, the Goshorns found a way to give some of their new neighbors job skills and more hope for the future.

Peru hosts more than 1.6 million Venezuelans who are refugees, asylum-seekers, and others needing international protection. The journey from Venezuela takes people through Colombia, Ecuador, and finally to Peru. Some can afford bus tickets, but many make the trip on foot.

Caracas, Venezuela to Lima, Peru is about 2,700 miles, more than 1,000 hours of walking according to one route shown on Google maps.

Most refugees settle in Lima. But some head to other towns like Huancayo, a city in the Andes Mountains where Tim and Jennifer Goshorn live and work.

They’ve led Kid’s Clubs and Bible studies, been active with ministry in an orphanage and prison, and led medical mission trips into the jungle.

The Goshorns wanted to build relationships with the Venezuelan people in their community but encountered barriers.

“They were very suspicious. They had gone through a lot, so they weren’t very open,” Tim says.

But a new opportunity came from a perhaps unlikely source…the global pandemic.

“When the pandemic started everything was shut down,” Tim says. “Nobody could leave their houses in the whole country. One person in each household could leave the house for one hour a day to get food.”

The Goshorns got permission to bring food to the Peruvian families in their program. Then they started receiving names of Venezuelans who needed help, too.

“That opened the door for us,” Tim says, reflecting on how blessed he is to have a lot of Venezuelan friends now.

Tim and Jennifer say their Venezuelan friends had no choice but to leave their home country.

In Venezuela, people experience a lack of food and safe drinking water. They also face violence. One of the Goshorn’s Venezuelan friends told them she couldn’t go to work anymore because she was too afraid of the gun violence.

“Our Venezuelan friends say it’s so much better here,” Jennifer says. “That’s hard to believe when you see the way they were living here.”

Tim and Jennifer say each person has a story. One family the Goshorns know had a prosperous farm. The Venezuelan government sent the military to kill anyone who lived on farms so that they could take the land. The family knew this was coming, so they took off and walked to Peru.

The trek isn’t easy. Refugees and migrants are vulnerable to robbery and assault. They sleep outside, unprotected in sometimes freezing temperatures. They face hunger and dehydration.

But things aren’t so easy once they arrive in Peru, either. They face prejudice and stereotypes, a lack of resources (especially if they’re undocumented), and a lack of good employment.

Jennifer says some Venezuelans sell candy on the streets, working 60 hours a week and making seven to 10 dollars a day.

The Goshorns wanted a better option for their Venezuelan friends. They saw a restaurant for sale near their home, and opened a cafe, employing a handful of Venezuelans and a handful of Peruvians.

“We wanted to get them together,” Tim says.

The Goshorns say one of the Venezuelan employees had never cooked before, but once he got started, even Peruvians were commenting on how well he prepared local dishes.

Eventually the Goshorns transferred ownership of the cafe to a Venezuelan couple. Recently they had to close the business because it wasn’t making enough money. However, the couple now has a food cart, and are using the skills they learned at the restaurant to run that business.

Thanks to supporters like you, Jennifer and Tim are continuing to build relationships with the Venezuelan people in their community. They say the good news of the gospel brings peace and hope to this population that has faced so many struggles. Jennifer hopes to lead a Bible study with her Venezuelan friends this fall. Your prayers are greatly appreciated as the Goshorns continue to share the good news of the gospel with their Venezuelan friends.