Storing Up Treasures in Heaven

October 10, 2013

Quechua Evangelistic Outreach sends native missionaries to isolated villages in the Bolivian highlands, where they plant churches and disciple believers.

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.´ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” (Acts 3:6-7, NKJV)

Potosí, Bolivia. The famous literary character Don Quixote called the area a place of “extraordinary richness.” When Spanish explorers discovered silver ore here in the 1540s, Potosí quickly gained acclaim for having the biggest lode in the New World. Treasure hunters flocked to the Andes Mountains, and the population of the mining town swelled to over 200,000 people. For the next 200 years fleets of Spanish ships transported the precious metal through the Isthmus of Panama and up the Atlantic to Europe.

Christian Aid provided a donkey for this missionary.

Even today the Spanish phrase valer un Potosí (“to be worth a Potosí”) is used to refer to something of great value.

While Cerro de Potosí still dominates the landscape, the treeless mountain has mostly become a fixture of legend. By now its riches have been largely depleted. Just a few hours´ drive north of the city signs of prosperity disappear completely. There are no mines in this area, and the indigenous Quechua Indians live much like their ancestors did centuries ago, scratching out an existence as potato farmers.

But in the midst of grinding poverty, the Quechua Evangelistic Outreach has something of great value—its own “Potosí”—to share with the tribal peoples who live in isolated settlements in the altiplano.

The Christian Aid-assisted ministry focuses on evangelism and training of native missionaries—those who speak the language and know the culture—to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to these reclusive but dignified mountain people.

Máximo is one of the gospel workers serving in Potosí´s outlying communities. He speaks Quechua and endures the same hardships as the villagers, who live in small adobe houses with no running water or electricity.

Idol worship remains an integral part of the religious customs of the Quechua, who live in fear of the gods. In order to appease Pachamama, the Earth Mother spirit, they believe sacrifices are necessary. The sacrifice can be an animal, such as a guinea pig or llama, or at festive events alcohol is poured out onto the ground for good luck. Such rituals are said to prevent illness, accidents, or other misfortunes.

Recently Máximo shared the gospel with a seriously ill woman named Juana. Her body was so wracked with pain that she could not get out of bed. With no money and no medical services available, her family called on the man of God for help.

The missionary explained that she did not need to perform a sacrificial ceremony to the gods in order to be healed. The God of heaven had already made the supreme sacrifice for her through the death and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What she needed even more than physical healing was the Savior Who could redeem her from spiritual bondage.

“She received Jesus and I prayed for her health,” said Máximo. "After several visits and prayer, her health is improving and now she is attending our local church. She is witnessing to her neighbors and relatives.”

Eduardo serves in the village of Kalapaquiri, also located in the Potosí region. Accustomed to traveling by foot, last year he received a donkey through funds supplied by Christian Aid donors. Now the missionary can visit more towns and lead more people to Christ.

He is excited about the spiritual harvest taking place slowly but surely in every community. Two new house fellowships have started in one village, and four attendees committed their hearts to follow Jesus. To encourage discipleship, Eduardo holds Bible studies twice a week. His congregation also organizes a day for fasting, prayer, and worship once a month.

The ministry offers sewing classes to Quechua women.

Every six months, teams of missionaries who train at the ministry´s Bible institute in Cochabamba travel to remote Quechua villages to teach native believers. During the two-to-three day workshops, they study the Scriptures in depth and discuss strategies for church planting and evangelism. After three years, those who complete the courses receive certificates. These believers are then equipped with the knowledge and tools to themselves become missionaries in neighboring villages.

Unlike the silver mines that brought notoriety for a brief time in history, laborers for the gospel are uncovering treasures of eternal value for the Quechua in Potosí. These treasures—the precious gifts of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ—can never be removed nor tarnished.

Thanks to gifts sent through Christian Aid, in 2013 Quechua Evangelistic Outreach has: