Remembering Jaime Goytia, Bolivia

A Tribute by Gordon King

Jaime Goytia died in Bolivia on Saturday morning 27 December 2014. His death marked the end of an era.

Jaime Goytia’s life was shaped by a seminal event that occurred in 1949 when he was an adolescent. He planned to participate in an outdoor evangelistic campaign with CBM missionary Norman Dabbs, Carlos Meneses and a number of other Baptists from Oruro. Jaime was delayed and the team departed without him. Later that afternoon, a drunken mob attacked the group. Dabbs, Meneses and six others died as martyrs.

The next day, Jaime Goytia made the decision to become a pastor. Jaime’s outstanding record of service includes periods in the roles of pastor, President of the Bolivian Baptist Union, director of the Bolivian Bible Society, and director of the Bible Society of the Americas. He was accompanied by his wife Marina throughout his vocation.   In recognition of his outstanding service to God’s Kingdom, Jaime was awarded an honorary doctorate by McMaster Divinity College.

The finest hours of his career may have come after his official retirement. Jaime became the unpaid Principal of the Seminario Teologico Bautista in Cochabamba. He poured his wisdom, love, leadership skills, and generosity into the seminary professors and students. Two sayings of Jaime stand out from this time. He often described himself as “jubilado pero no archivado” (retired but not filed away). “Ama la institucion” (love the institution) was the counsel he gave to other leaders struggling with their sense of vocation and the nature of Christian service.

Jaime called himself the lorito (parrot) in reference to his prominent nose. This was simply an example of the effervescent humor that was another essential aspect of his character. He had the gift of turning almost any circumstance into a reason to laugh. It was easy to respect and to love Jaime and Marina Goytia. Canadian Baptist Global Field Staff members enjoyed his friendship and benefited from his wise advice.

The death of Jaime Goytia is a reminder that we have a limited period of time in which to offer our gifts to God’s kingdom. Jaime’s light that once shone brightly was extinguished at the doors of eternity on 27 December 2014. Other women and men are called to step forward and follow his example.