In Spite of Cyclone Threat, 56,000 Hear the Gospel on Margarita Island, Venezuela

By   •   July 12, 2022

After a remarkable turn of events, hearts were restored and tens of thousands heard the Gospel on Margarita Island, Venezuela.

Tropical Storm Bonnie threatened to become a cyclone as it headed straight for Margarita Island. The government had to suspend all classes nationwide and limit airport activities. It looked like it would be necessary to cancel the Festival de la Familia that had been planned for months.

However, the pastors of Margarita Island had been praying for a long time that God would bring a great evangelistic event to the Caribbean island, and they knew very well that Jesus Christ is Lord of all—even over storms and cyclones. 

They prayed tirelessly that God would turn the storm north, bypassing the island altogether. In the end, the event was affected only by light rain.

The Evangelical Council of Venezuela and the Christian churches of Margarita Island joined forces to organize this evangelistic effort that took place from July 1-3, featuring David Ruiz, the Spanish-speaking evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“Aren’t you the one who will be speaking at the Festival de la Familia at the stadium?” a waitress asked Ruiz during breakfast. 

“I recognized you from the photo. My neighbor who lives to the right of my house is a Christian and she invited me. My other neighbor who lives to the left is also a Christian and she invited me, too. So, after so many invitations, I thought I must go. I will be there.”

An evangelistic event of this magnitude had never been organized on Margarita Island, with even the national baseball teams not able to fill Nueva Esparta stadium like the Festival de la Familia.

Approximately 56,000 people attended the three-day event.

“We have witnessed that this is God’s time for Venezuela,” Ruiz said. “People know they have a need of God, and the churches on Margarita Island prayed unceasingly for their community and made a great effort to invite their neighbors. They even handed out invitations in the stores. It was wonderful to see that even the children invited other children. And God was the one who finally worked the miracle by touching so many hearts.”

The effort began two days earlier with a conference to renew the strength of local pastors, followed by an event that addressed specific issues for pastors’ children. It concluded with three days of events open to the public at the Family Festival, with a presentation of the Gospel for children at FestiKids and two days of evangelism for all ages. 

The three days of the Festival included Mexican worship leader Israel García, as well as Jahaziel Band and local llanera music singer Régulo González, who was accompanied by traditional Venezuelan dancers.

After a powerful Gospel message presented by David Ruiz, more than 16,000 people repented of their sins and put their trust in Jesus Christ over the three-day event.

The Monday after the Festival, Ruiz met the waitress again during breakfast.

“I was there at the event,” she told him. “I used to say that my neighbors on the right and left were Christians. Now for the first time I can say that I am a Christian too, because I gave my heart to Christ during the Festival.”

Let the Children Come to Me

Jesus taught all His followers the importance of helping the little ones come to Christ.

A little over 8,000 children made the decision to follow Christ at FestiKids.

On July 1, 22,000 children attended FestiKids, an event designed specifically for the youngest with vibrant dances and music, and a musical play that summarizes the Gospel starting from the book of Genesis. 

And in the hours that followed, God continued to work in even more hearts. 

“When we were riding the bus back to the church, some children expressed doubts about the message of the play,” one volunteer said. “We explained to them what the decision to follow Christ means and many decided to pray on the bus to receive Him into their hearts.”

Jesus Is King Church on Margarita Island has a ministry for deaf-mute children, and their leaders challenged these kids to invite their friends who did not know the Gospel. They brought a total of 27 children. At FestiKids, there was sign language interpretation and the 27 little guests accepted Jesus as their Savior. 

Caring for Pastoral Families

Pastors on the island have gone through some very difficult years dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, discouragement among their congregations and low attendance levels.

A total of 742 pastors and their wives attended conference Fidelidad Eterna, where they found restoration and new strength, both for their marriages and for their ministry.

In addition, many of their children had to leave the country, while pastoral couples made the difficult decision to stay behind in order to continue serving in the ministry. 

The pastors’ conference Fidelidad Eterna was held on June 29 seeking to serve pastors in their specific needs.

A special event for pastors’ children that night had 550 registered, but the cyclone threat turned into a blessing when, thanks to the closing of the schools, an unexpected total of 803 young people attended the event. 

Young people ages 15 and up enjoyed a time of worship with Israel Garcia, and the preaching of the Good News helped them to renew their commitment to follow Jesus Christ despite the difficulties.

>> Read the details of a similar event in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.