Churches in Florida welcome Venezuelans fleeing their country amid economic crisis

Opposition supporters clash with riot policemen during a rally to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 18, 2016.Reuters

Churches in the city of Orlando in Florida are helping families from Venezuela who have fled their country due to a raging economic crisis.

The Iglesia El Calvario in Orlando is one of the churches helping them settle in the U.S.

"There is a real opportunity to be a Gospel presence and to be Jesus to these people," said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, church pastor and president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, according to CBN News.

Salguero said several families arrive in Orlando every week, estimating that 400 families from Venezuela arrive in Florida in a month.

He said a lot of them are coming to the U.S. to look for jobs. Many of them are professionals like doctors, lawyers and teachers, he added.

Salguero also said about 1,000 families arrive in central Florida from Puerto Rico every month. The state has thus become a hub for Hispanic evangelicalism in the U.S., he added.

"The Latino evangelical church becomes a bridge to social networks and to employment," Salguero explained.

At Iglesia El Calvario, he said, job fairs are held.

For them, he said, "it's always a challenge: new country, new language, new community."

He said there is a real economic challenge in Venezuela as the country suffers from food shortage.

Salguero said he himself went to Venezuela to build bridges with the pastors. At the same time, he said, there's a real opportunity to spread gospel in the country as the pastors there are already part of the evangelical church.

He said his church is collaborating with sending churches in Venezuela. The pastor noted that there's freedom of religion in Venezuela.

Protests have rocked the capital city of Caracas over the weekend as pro- and anti-government activists took to the streets a day after President Nicolas Maduro declared a "constitutional state of emergency," CNN reports.

The report said people are experiencing lack of access to food and health care. Venezuela is experiencing high inflation brought on by the plummeting prices of oil that resulted in shortage of goods, medicine and power.