Expelled Mission Group Forced to Sell Property in Venezuela

A tribal-focused mission group in Venezuela, after months of struggling with the government about working with the country’s tribal groups, is now forced to sell their property in a tribal region.

New Tribes Mission on Dec. 2 released an article stating that it “has exhausted all efforts to retain the property” located at Tamatama, which was formerly a school for missionary children. The mission group explains that although the government owns the land, the building and systems on the property belong to NTM.

“A half century of precious memories are attached to the land. Missionary children grew up there. Missionaries are buried there. Numerous work teams from churches labored to build homes, classrooms and dorms there. It’s hard to lose such a place, but that’s what’s happening,” read a statement on NTM’s website.

In the past three months, the international tribal mission group has experienced many difficulties with their missions among tribal groups in Venezuela. NTM was unexpectedly ordered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Oct. 12 to leave the nation, and received confirmation that they must leave tribal areas within 90 days of Nov. 14.

Initially, NTM Venezuelan leaders responded to the property issue by intending to transfer the buildings to the tribal people living adjacent to the school, but was informed that such transfers are not allowed.

Furthermore, NTM discovered that the law requires NTM to sell the building for at least 25 percent of the market value, a cost that would inhibit the tribal people from purchasing the buildings. As a result, NTM will be forced to sell the buildings “to those who have opposed the mission’s activities,” NTM stated on its website.

The missionaries responded to the event by expressing disappointment and concern for the tribal people.

“While the missionaries are disappointed in the developments taking place in Venezuela, their greatest concern continues to be for the tribal people. They are the real losers in this contest between governments and ideologies,” the article on NTM’s website read.

“The most challenging thing is the unknown – not knowing what’s ahead,” said NTM field chairman Church Marshall

NTM Venezuela leaders are seeking God’s direction and continue to work with lawyers as they press on to accomplish as much work as possible before the end of their 90 days.