Three Cultures, Two Continents, One God
…the Whyte Ridge Baptist/Winnipeg Somang Presbyterian Church Bolivia Mission Trip.
From August 6th to 22nd six people from Winnipeg Somang Presbyterian Church and four from Whyte Ridge Baptist Church travelled to and through Bolivia, observing and sharing in ministries organized by Canadian Baptist Ministries in partnership with the Bolivian Baptist Union. Bringing together Korean, Bolivian and Western Canadian cultures and languages was an enjoyable challenge, and the team truly was a living example of “Global Discipleship”.
While in Bolivia, the multicultural mission trip included visits to the Obades’ Chagas Remediation Project in Mizque. Homes are plastered to prevent infectious bug bites from the Vinchuca beetles that live in the walls of unplastered mud brick homes. Chagas is a slowly debilitating disease; plastering homes improves the outcomes for families raising children in homes where contracting the disease is far less likely.
The team also visited Casa de la Amistad, a day school program for children who otherwise live in jails, with their incarcerated parents. We were reminded daily of how different Canada and Korea are from Bolivia. Over the years Casa has improved the lives of hundreds of young people, while also introducing them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In El Alto on the outskirts of La Paz the team visited two beneficiaries of a microfinance project sponsored by Obades and the Bolivian Baptist Union. Providing small loans to cottage industries such as mattress and furniture manufacturing aids families and improves their living conditions.
The team got involved in practical “hands on” missions by helping to scrape and paint at the Baptist Seminary in Cochabamba. The library computer system also received some much needed attention to restore passwords and reset defaults, and the team also assisted by teaching two evening classes in education methods and exegesis. It was good to fellowship with the people we met in our one-week at the Seminary.
The primary goal of the mission trip was to observe, to learn, and to bring back ideas about how the two churches can best connect to mission work already underway in Bolivia. There are many opportunities for service and for sharing the Gospel. Partnering with Canadian Baptist Ministries was a natural fit, given the history that Pastor Terry and Pat Janke have with CBM. The trip was well organized by CBM, and Ivan Gutierrez, the CBM field staff member who coordinated our events and transportation in-country was a true blessing.
Bolivia is a land of stark contrasts; there is great wealth and crushing poverty, and they co-exist out in the open, for all to see. But beyond the obvious material wealth or poverty of the people is the more pressing question of their spiritual wealth or poverty. Do they know Christ, and do they share in his inheritance, as his heirs? The mission work in Bolivia aims to improve the material and spiritual conditions of the people, proclaiming the Gospel while also “loving thy neighbour” and helping to improve living conditions in this vibrant and developing nation.