Shining Light on a Dark World, One at a Time
At an altitude of more than 13,000 feet, the village where Paulino grew up in the Andes of Bolivia was more than double the elevation of Denver, but he saw things as if from the bottom of a well.
The cold winds of the mountains grated the rawness he felt within. The village of dirt-floor homes of brick and adobe was the extent of his world, and he had never had the resources to go beyond it. Being stuck in that world was one thing that had made the pain unbearable when his wife of 10 years left him.
Everyone in his world knew of his rejection and humiliation. Those who wished him ill knew it, and his friends and family knew it, and all who held it over him would be just around the corner the rest of his days. But that wasn’t why he was thinking about transcending his world by jumping off a cliff.
The villagers might pay lip service to appeasing the gods and the Earth Mother spirit as the most important thing in life, but in practice nothing was more important than living as part of a family – something Paulino was now without. His wife had taken their three children with her, protecting them from his drunken rages, and his own parents and siblings had withdrawn from his rash, headstrong and off-putting ways years ago.
He habitually strove to take control of things; he would take control of this pain by ending his life that very day.
His wife’s parents and siblings were too poor to take her and the children in, and Paulino’s parents were the ones who had given her and the children refuge – making her one of the few village women who could afford to leave abusive husbands. This further stung him. The worst fate anyone in the village could imagine had befallen him; Paulino was alone.
This reality haunted him even in the moments just before he awoke one morning; then waking brought remembrance of why he was depressed even in his sleep. That pain, and the mysterious ancient ache that had driven him to begin drinking at age 9, weighed on him in a way that kept him too weak to push the woven, woolen blanket off of him. He habitually strove to take control of things; he would take control of this pain by ending his life that very day.
As Paulino considered that this pain was no worse than the pain of his skull hitting the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, he was surprised to hear a faint knock on the chipped paint of his door; then he saw it was after 11 a.m. Curiosity to find out what soul left on earth might be calling moved him off his cot.
A Man Like Himself
The man at the door, an ethnic Quechua like himself, said he was a Christian and asked if he had any needs he might pray for. Paulino told him he didn’t have any needs, because he didn’t expect to be alive much longer. Introducing himself as Demetrio, the man told Paulino he’d like to know more.
“He was deeply depressed because his wife left him; he told me that that afternoon he was ready to kill himself by jumping from a high cliff,” Demetrio said. “I shared that Jesus came to rescue him.”
A long talk led to a time of prayer. Paulino soon realized there was not just one man still willing to listen to him, but another, the God-man Jesus.
“He opened his heart to Jesus, and that afternoon he committed his life to Jesus,” Demetrio said.
Weeks of discipling followed, with Paulino demonstrating a massive appetite for Bible study. As the Lord transformed his life, his wife was able to see the difference.
“Now the Lord has restored his marriage, and his wife has also committed her life to Jesus,” Demetrio said.
A pastor of a congregation in the village who has planted churches in two other villages, Demetrio is one of several workers an indigenous ministry has trained and sent to bring eternal life to the Bolivian Andes and the Central Highlands. In his home village, 12 people drawn to his church recently put their faith in Christ.
With the help of Christian Aid Mission donors, the ministry has been able to expand its ministry southward in the region of Potosí, distributing Bibles and discipleship materials and organizing evangelistic outreaches.
Donor assistance also enabled the ministry to build a classroom for one of its congregations in the Morochata area. An indigenous missionary working in that area thanked Christian Aid Mission for the help.
“We are using it for Bible study for children and adults, so now we don’t have to meet outside in the cold weather of the Andes,” he said. “Due to this new classroom, more people are coming to learn about the Bible since it is warmer inside.”
The director of the indigenous ministry expressed deep gratitude for Christian Aid Mission assistance that enabled it to buy and distribute Bibles and discipleship material among congregations in the Andes.
“As new people are accepting Jesus, we are able to use this material to disciple them to be rooted in the Word of God and leave behind worshiping idols,” he said.
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