MNN (02/07/06) – A November 14, 2005 resolution in Venezuela gave missionaries with New Tribes Mission 90 days to leave tribal areas. They were supposed to leave these areas by February 12. New Tribes appealed the decision and asked for a stay. New Tribes has since received good and bad news with that regard.
New Tribes’ Nita Zelenak says, “The good news was that they did accept the request for a hearing on the constitutionality of the resolution. So, we were very encouraged with that. However, the bad news is that they chose not to suspend the effects of the resolution while they are considering it. So, that means that we have to be out of the tribal locations by February the 12th.”
There’s no clear indication when the court will make its ruling. “They said it could take up to a year to get a response on it,” says Zelenak.
Now, Zelenak says, they begin the process of pulling out of these areas. “There were 35 adult missionaries and 19 children that had to be relocated. They were all involved in tribal church planting in one way or another.” New Tribes is accused of spying on behalf of the United States government.
The tribal people are the ones losing out. “Many of them are in locations that are serviced by a plane. And so, without our missionaries there, having a radio they can call out on if there’s a medical problem, they don’t have that help. And then, there’s the literacy that we’ve been teaching them and community development projects. So, they’ll also be missing out on those in addition to the spiritual aspect.”
There is good news in all of this, says Zelenak. “We’ve been encouraged, actually, with much of what we’ve seen in the tribal locations as people have really taken these things to heart and it’s caused them to draw closer to the Lord themselves.”