Pray for Bolivia!

Please pray for Bolivia.

As many of you might be aware, tensions have been running very high since elections were held over a week ago on October 20. It’s a complicated affair, so I’d like to provide you with a short historical digest to help you understand how we got to this point, explain where the situation currently stands, and share how you can pray.

The current president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has been in power since 2006, having won the presidency three times. As Bolivia‘s first indigenous president, he has been vastly popular with the indigenous population and during his tenure extreme poverty has declined. Nevertheless, he has allied himself with communist dictators around the world and he maintains his power through corruption and lawlessness. For example, in 2009, Morales promulgated a new Bolivian constitution that he and his party wrote that limited the presidency to two five-year terms. Despite that fact, he ran for a third term and won. In 2016, Morales held a national referendum asking Bolivia to eliminate presidential term limits so he could run for a fourth term. The nation rejected his proposal: 51%-49%. In response, Morales claimed that his human rights were being violated. The Bolivian high court (stacked with his appointed judges) agreed with him, thus terminating presidential term limits.


Evo Morales, addressing a crowd of supporters a few days ago. 

On October 20, 2019 Bolivians went to the polls for the presidential election. In Bolivia, one can win the presidency by winning a simple majority of the vote (over 50%) or by winning over 40% of the vote along with a 10+ point lead over the second-place candidate. If neither of those conditions are met, a runoff election between the top two candidates is held. On election day, with 84% of the vote tallied, Morales had a 7-point lead (45%-38%) over his main competitor, Carlos Mesa. Once it became apparent that a runoff election was inevitable, the electoral tribunal inexplicably stopped providing the vote count for a full 24 hours. When the updates resumed, Morales’ vote count had risen while Mesa’s vote count had fallen, just enough to give Morales a 10.12 point lead, thereby staving off a runoff election.

Mesa declared the election a fraud. Morales claimed that the Bolivian right wing had allied itself with international powers to stage a coup d’état. People across the nation immediately took to the streets in protest over the voting irregularities. While some elections buildings were torched, the protests were (and continue to be) mostly peaceful. The United States, the European Union, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina have since expressed concern over the legitimacy of the election and have called for a runoff election.


A torched elections building in Santa Cruz. 


The most intense protests have occurred in La Paz, Cochabamba, and Potosí.

Last Tuesday, pro-democracy forces in Santa Cruz and other major cities across the nation have instituted an indefinite strike that has grinded the entire nation to a halt. All businesses are closed. Pro-democracy forces have blocked all streets and highways with vehicles, tires, rocks and trees, making travel impossible except by bicycle or motor bikes. The intention of the strike is to apply maximum economic pressure to secure a runoff election between Morales and Mesa. As I write this update, the indefinite strike is now in its seventh day.


A few people walk along what is normally one of the busiest highways in Santa Cruz. This scene is a short walk from my home.

Every evening I’ve wandered the streets of Santa Cruz, witnessing the grand resiliency of the Bolivian people whose ardent desire is to live in a free and democratic society. I am profoundly impressed by their orderly and peaceful civil disobedience. Christians are mobilized, holding prayer vigils and circulating Scripture and words of encouragement via social media.


In the streets of Santa Cruz with thousands of others.


A large statue of Christ overlooks a central meeting place for protestors. 

People in the U.S. have asked if I am safe. Yes, thank God, I am quite safe along with the people of Santa Cruz. Most of the disorder and clashes that have resulted in injuries have occurred in other cities like La Paz and Cochabamba. Moreover, some grocery stores have been opening for a few hours in the mornings to provide a steady stream of food and basic supplies.

It is a time of great uncertainty and it is impossible to know how it will be resolved, but we are trusting in the Lord’s providence and protection. I take great comfort in Jesus’ response to Pilate when he said, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). God is sovereign over every moment of this conflict.

How you can pray:

~ That peace and justice would prevail for the people of Bolivia.
~ For protection and wisdom for pro-democracy leaders who are leading the cause.
~ For the most vulnerable among us, especially the poor and the elderly, whose access to money and medical care has been made more difficult.
~ That Bolivians would turn to Jesus Christ for their hope.

October 2019 Update

The month of September was so fruitful and exciting that it’s tough to know where to begin. A few weeks ago my parents arrived in Santa Cruz. We traveled to Sucre, a beautiful colonial city where Bolivian independence was declared nearly 200 years ago. We visited a number of touristic spots and ate lunch at the El Alfarero Sucre location.IMG_2390.JPGIMG_2441.JPGIMG_2512.JPGIMG_2555.JPGUpon our return to Santa Cruz, my parents joined a four-person team from the U.S. to work on the Talita Cumi home. The team painted the girls’ rooms and living room, installed fans in both the girls’ home and the boys’ home, and fixed a couple of computers. Many of the children got in on the work and fun by cleaning, painting, organizing, and cooking. The finished product is absolutely amazing! Beyond working on the home, the team and I were able to get a lot of good quality time in with the children: taking them to the pool, taking them out for bowling and ice cream, and even bringing the older girls to El Alfarero to purchase jewelry in one of our ministries.

16a01877-fb03-446d-b809-491aa4f5ffc4.JPG72844695-e3cc-4a9a-814b-3efc0d86c7db.JPGIMG_2648.JPGIMG_2666.JPGIMG_2662.JPGIMG_2760.JPGI would like to ask for your prayers in regards to a new initiative that I am spearheading with a few guys. One vital component that is missing at the Talita Cumi home is the presence of Christian men who actively guide, counsel, and walk with the boys. In order to meet this need, we will be launching a mentorship group called “Jetro” (Jethro), named after Moses’ father-in-law who cared for Moses’ family and gave him wise counsel in a time of tremendous difficulty. The mission of Jetro is to respond to the call of God to shepherd young boys by directing their hearts toward Christ. Each boy will have his own mentor who will meet with him on a weekly basis. Every month all of us will meet together to discuss important topics related to the boys’ stage in life. Please pray that we can walk in wisdom as we launch the group, that we would rely on the Holy Spirit at all times, and that the hearts of the boys would grow in maturity in Christ.

My English students at El Alfarero got a big surprise when I brought my parents to the last session of the eight-week course. The last class is always my favorite. First, the students give oral presentations that incorporate much of the material that they learned over the course. It’s eye-opening for them to realize just how much they learned. Then, after their oral presentation, each student recites from memory John 3:16 (in English). It’s a powerful capstone for all of our faith conversations from the past eight weeks. I’ve been quite pleased with the biblical talks we’ve had and I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to do wonders in their hearts.IMG_2775.JPGEvangelism at the university continues to be fruitful as we pray for students and invite them into our El Alfarero community. David, a missionary from Chile, and I are striving to strengthen communication and maintain contact with those with whom we evangelize. In order to accomplish this, we created a WhatsApp group specifically designed for the university students. For those of you unfamiliar with WhatsApp, it’s a phone application that allows a group of people to share messages with each other. This new tactic allows us to share information about El Alfarero with the university students and respond to their questions and needs.WhatsApp Image 2019-09-20 at 4.34.42 PM.jpegPlease keep Bolivia in your prayers as Bolivians will be going to the election polls this October 20th. Please pray for transparency and a peaceful transition.

Thank you for your prayers.