In the face of COVID-19, lightning strikes, mountains of paperwork and, on top of everything else, violent villagers who stonewall the gospel, stamina has become a key requisite for those advancing God’s kingdom in Latin America.
Behind the grit on display in local missionaries is not super-human stamina, though, but otherworldly faith in the God who has saved and sustained them – the kind that enabled a worker in Bolivia to approach a young man in an Andean community, Pablo, whose drunken rages had driven his family to another house.
“Every time Pablo got drunk, he went home and hit his wife and children,” the leader of the native ministry said.
The worker managed to get Pablo to open the door and listen to the gospel. Soon Pablo let him know that he had worn out his welcome.
The worker wasn’t sure it was wise to return, but after praying for Pablo for a month, he had a deep understanding that while salvation is impossible with man, with God all things are possible. Focused on the Lord rather than the lost, he went back to the house where Pablo was living alone, without his family.
“He returned after a month, and Pablo told our missionary that he wanted to repent of his sins and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior,” the ministry leader said. “Pablo was discipled, and the Lord delivered him from alcoholism. When seeing this change of life, the wife of Pablo and his children also gave their lives to Christ.”
A local missionary visiting another Andean village noticed that whenever he had the opportunity to share the gospel at one home, a young man named Simon either retreated to another part of the property or left the house altogether.
Local missionaries prayed for Simon for several months. One day while carrying goods on his bicycle as part of his work, Simon crashed and fell, sustaining serious injuries to his nose and face, the ministry leader said.
“He went to the traditional healers and witches, but they did not heal him,” the leader said. “Then he called the local missionary. That day our missionary went to his home to explain the Good News of Jesus, and Simon, crying, gave his life to Christ. Now Simon is a Christian dedicated to the study of the Bible – he never misses worship at church and loves to play instruments.”
Such outreaches took place amid a pandemic that at times halted ministry due to either illness or strict lockdowns – so strict that people were prohibited from leaving their homes. With their stamina further tested, local missionaries did what they could when allowed, including preparing baskets of food to deliver to devastated families.
“With the bad news of the pandemic and the diseases, many lost their harvests,” the leader said. “God has used these things so that these communities now wish that our missionaries share Jesus with them house by house. Andean villages that were closed before are listening to the gospel.”
Local missionaries who have long had to overcome other diseases now also face the challenge of outlasting COVID-19.
A couple directing another native ministry’s orphanage were seriously ill with COVID-19 for several weeks last year, and they are still recovering. Other staff members were thankful to fully recover.
“Sadly, many people we have known from La Paz have passed away,” one of the leaders said.
One month a worker contracted Dengue, a mosquito-borne illness bringing high fever for which there is no cure; fortunately, her case was not serious enough to kill her.
At times, the ministry workers feel they are drowning in paperwork. Like ministries in other parts of the world required to meet government requirements, the organization has to be organized – for accreditation renewal, orphanage leaders had to complete 2,500 pages of paperwork.
“On many occasions, the bureaucracy can be a headache,” the leader said. “We had a day to celebrate the renewal because we were in danger of a temporary closure.”
Earlier, a severe storm brought lightning that struck the facility, leaving a staff member and a young boy with electrical shocks.
“Both had to be observed for several hours in the local hospital,” the ministry leader said. “We thank God for preserving the lives of everyone here at our orphanage.”
The lightning damaged antennas, routers, a TV, cables, phones and other equipment, the leader said.
“Some weeks after, another storm burned out other components,” he said. “We’ve now installed two new lightning rods, as the previous ones were several years old. The kids are still afraid of the thunder and lightning.”
In spite of dangers and challenges that can mount up like overwhelming waves, local missionaries are bringing the love of Christ to the poor and needy throughout Latin America. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them.