Time and time again, we see people come near to Christ and be transformed when the church reaches out to them with a holistic gospel. As people are transformed, they begin to allow the love of Christ to radiate out of every part of their lives. Here are some snapshots of the living gospel in Bolivia.
In a small, isolated community of llama farmers,the local church recognized a marginalized group of people who were suffering: the elderly. Over time, many young people have left the small community to look for better work opportunities and, in the process, left their aging parents behind. Many of these seniors become increasingly isolated as they progressively lose their abilities to cook, clean, care for themselves or socialize. The local church, filled with the love of the gospel, has invited these seniors out of their seclusion and welcomed them into their building. They come to get breakfast, lunch and supper. They come to use the bathroom and have a warm shower. They come to be with friends, to feel loved and cared for, and to be in community. For Zacharias, one of the seniors, having the opportunity to serve his friends has been very empowering. “I came to know Jesus later in my life, but I understood right away that I needed to love God and love my neighbour,” he says. “I am still young and have more strength than others; some of my friends can barely lift their cups up to their mouths, but I can pour them their tea. I can help with whatever strength I have.” As this small church lives out the gospel, they ease the physical, emotional and spiritual poverty of vulnerable and forgotten people and introduce them to the loving community of Christ.
After engaging a community for more than a year through the CBM Chagas project, which helps protect families against this deadly disease, local church members witnessed the impact: when they asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ, an entire family stood up. Over time, they had developed a friendship with project staff who frame their training around a biblical worldview. Alongside a Canadian short-term mission team, they also participated in the transformation of their homes – to safeguard them from the virus-carrying insect that thrives in adobe walls and thatched roofs. The family experienced the love of Christ, they saw it impact their lives and they wanted in. The gospel lived out has the power to transform, restore and save.
Living in the middle of a red-light district, Goretty Jora, a member of First Baptist Church in Cochabamba, saw the children of sex workers being neglected, locked in their homes, abused and exposed to things no child should have to see. Her eyes and heart were opened by a gospel that did not allow her to be idle. Over time, she has transformed her home into a centre for these vulnerable children called Emmanuel Foundation. Every time she sits down to help them with their homework, she expresses that Jesus has given them potential. When she teaches them responsibility, she shows them that they are a valuable part of Christ’s community. As she provides them shelter when it’s not safe for them to go home, she teaches them that they deserve to be secure and loved. Goretty’s actions and words demonstrate God’s overflowing love and the lives of the children in her project are being transformed by a living gospel.