As a missionary to Bolivia it always saddens me to hear about the corruption and deceit that often takes place in the Bolivian government. In a recent news article, Bolivia’s former socialist president, Evo Morales, was accused of having several relationships with, and fathering children with sixteen year old girls. He was also accused of tampering with last years election and there was also an audio recording of him telling the people of his group, to starve out the people of the cities until they gave in, and let him return. While these things sadden me, it doesn’t surprise me, because it is something that is very common, in one way or another, in most politics in Latin America. What it does show, and convicts me about, is the true need for the gospel in Bolivia. I heard it said once that if you want to know the condition of a country, or a people, just look at the government that they elected. I think that if we are ever going to see a difference, and change in Bolivia, it will not be accomplished through changing the politics, or the politicians. The only hope is reaching its people with the gospel, and when they are changed by the gospel, then the government they elect will change and the very condition in the country will change. So we would like to ask you to pray that the gospel will go forth to Bolivia and truly make a difference in their lives. Pray for us as we seek to reach them and start churches. Pray that the Lord will supply the support we need to do even more and that He will raise up many more laborers for the harvest in Bolivia.
When I was younger, I can remember that one of the funnest things that we did as a family, was plant a garden. I know, only a country boy would say something like, but it was really a fun time with my family. We actually had competitions to see who could have the best garden and who would have the best results. We would start early, preparing the ground and then plant the seeds in rows for each vegetable. As the small plants would grow, I would remove the weeds that if not taken out, could hinder the growth of the plants or even kill them. As the hot summer days would pass, the plants would grow and spread, and it wasn’t long until they were ready to be harvested. From that time, I had to pick the vegetables sometimes twice a week or they would go to waste. It was amazing to see how much each plant could produce; so much so, that often we would give buckets away to friends and neighbors. As I think back on those days it reminds me of a harvest that is much greater and much more important every where we go and especially here in Bolivia. This harvest is similar in several ways and should motivate us to want to do more to reach it.
The Harvest is Ready:
As my plants would grow, I would check on them regularly, waiting until they were finally mature and ready, so that the vegetables wouldn’t go to waste. There is something similar that is happening with the harvest in Bolivia and around the world… it is ready. The one thing that motivated me more than anything else to come to Bolivia as a missionary, was to see how many people were without the truth and being taught everything but the truth. Most of the people that we speak to about the gospel say that they are Catholic, even though they haven’t been to church for a long time. This is because from the time they were very little, they were taught that they were Catholic and that they could under no circumstances change. We have even had people whose family has gotten very upset with them and even stopped talking to them, because they decided to follow Christ. Not only that, but we have many other religions, for example: Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses and Adventists, that are constantly bombarding the people with their false doctrine. So, you see the harvest is ready, and if we don’t reap it, someone else will.
The Harvest is Abundant:
This was another thing that amazed me about my plants and garden. I would pick the vegetables and literally in a couple of days I could go back and there would be more ready to pick. I almost couldn’t keep up with it at times. That is the same way I feel here in Bolivia. As I drive around our city, of over a million people, it breaks my heart to see communities of several hundred thousand people that have no church preaching the gospel to them. I have said it before but there are probably twenty specific areas in our city that I have been praying for many years and if we had someone prepared, we could start a church immediately. The problem is that the harvest is great but as Jesus made clear, the laborers are few. It is overwhelming at times because I want to reach those areas now, but we still lack laborers to reach them.
The Harvest is Urgent:
The part that was the hardest for me, when I planted a garden, was to see much of the harvest would rot on the vine, because there just wasn’t enough time to get it all. By the end of the season, I would just stop picking and the plants would slowly begin to deteriorate and die. In the harvest for souls, here in Bolivia, it is much more urgent because it is a matter of eternity at stake. Yesenia is a young girl that had a very rough upbringing. She lived with her mom but her mom didn’t really take care of her or her brother. She would be gone for large periods of time and leave them at home by themselves. When they were very young, her mother came home one day and basically said that she didn’t want them anymore and that they would have to look for somewhere to live. This was devastating for her and she took to the street, not knowing what to do. She contacted her father and one of her father’s friends, a lady named Essperanza, set off to find her. The interesting thing was that Essperanza had recently started attending our church and had gotten saved. She found Yesenia and her brother and began to help take care of them. She also began bringing them to church with her for every service. It wasn’t long until Yesenia put her faith in Christ as her Savior. About a year later, on New Years, she gave a testimony about how she had already planned to commit suicide when Essperanza found her. She told how her life had no purpose and she was going to end it, until she came to know Christ. She told how her life was now filled with joy and purpose and how she loves coming to church where she has a real family. I can only think of how the story might be very different, if Yesenia hadn’t had a church to go to. How many people, here in Cochabamba, like her are suffering and without hope and unless we can get a church in their neighborhood, to give them the good news the harvest might be lost. Please pray for laborers in Bolivia and especially our city of Cochabamba. We are praying that at least two more families would come and join us in reaping the harvest and many more churches can be started.
When I was younger, and even now, I have always liked to play sports. I started off with T ball at our local Ruritan Club, and then went on to play football and soccer when I was in high school. Even now I play soccer on a regular basis, although I usually can’t walk for a few days afterwards. One of the things that I remember about all the sports that I played was that we always had a coach and the coach always showed us what to do and how to play. That was his job and ours was to do what he said and play the game the best that we could. I have noticed a huge similarity between these two positions in sports, and one of two positions that many take when it comes to the ministry. Many, if not most, are more like a player. They are in the game, doing the work, preaching, teaching, visiting, and just about any other job that comes up. On the other hand there is a small group of people who are more like coaches, that focus on showing and training others how to do ministry. While both of these positions and ideas are important, I have found out that as a missionary, and maybe in the ministry in general, it may not be as easy as choosing which position you are going to play.
One of the things that has become very obvious to me since I arrived in Bolivia is that ministry, done correctly, is a lot of work. Not only that, but as a missionary you are basically playing two different positions at the same time. As our ministry has begun to grow and advance, I find myself needing to spend more and more time as a coach, meeting with new pastors that we have, and even some of the Bible college students that are preparing for the ministry. The difficulty is that I can’t just do just one or the other. I have to continue being a player as we start the new church, and coach as more and more pastors are being prepared for the ministry. This is a great challenge but a great joy at the same time and really what the ministry is all about. Our ultimate goal with the church that we are starting, is to have people trained that can can take over those responsibilities but even when that happens, we will be looking at starting all over again. As these responsibilities continue to grow more and more, I have had to learn a few important lessons to be able to do both. Not that I am perfect at it, or even that it has gotten easier, but here are a few things that might help.
Plan your Time Well
I have heard the story many times and even experienced it, you spend all day long working and even though you are very busy, at the end of the day you don’t have much to show for your work. It seems as if you haven’t accomplished anything. One of the keys to overcome this, is to plan your time and tasks well. You should have a schedule with specific times that you are going to dedicate to getting your work done. The other key aspect to this plan is to schedule to do the right things, or most important things. At the end of the day you should take some time to look at your calendar, and to do list, and choose two or three of the most important things that you need to get done and plan a time that you are going to get them done the next day. If you don’t accomplish anything else, you can feel accomplished that you got those things done and made progress towards your goals.
Focus on Whats Most Important
There are many things that are important and need to be done in the church but the key is to focus on what is most important.
For example, visiting the sick is very important, but spending time with a future pastor might be a better investment. Someone has to clean and decorate the church but if someone else can do it, you might be better off to have a training time for teachers. When it seems like you have more to do than you can get done, you should invest your time in the things that will give the best return on your investment. If you focus on the work of a player you might be able to win people one by one but if you spend time training someone to reach others then the process turns into multiplication.
Never Loose Sight of Your Purpose
As missionaries, even though we have to do the work of a pastor as we start a church, we should never loose touch with our main purpose. Our main goal as missionaries is to train pastors and leaders, not be pastors. One of the dangers that every missionary faces is to get caught up with all the activities and responsibilities of the church and forget about training leaders and pastors. When you first start a church there is a great desire to see the church grow. You can spend a lot of time trying to get people to come to church, visiting them, and calling them, all of which are good things, but the only problem is that the church does not really begin to grow until we teach our people to reach others and train leaders to train others. So when we focus on that which is most important, we will be able to accomplish both of these tasks, but in a more effective way. So don’t get caught up being just a player or just a coach but as you do both, focus on the most important things which is preparing others to serve the Lord.
Missionary to Bolivia