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The Christadelphian | August 2017

In the magazine this month:

A sample article from this edition:

Changes in Bolivia

Supporting an ecclesia at a time of transition.

The ecclesia in La Paz, Bolivia, is probably one of the world’s highest elevation ecclesias, sitting somewhere around 3,800 metres above sea level.

La Paz is a city that seems to defy its surroundings. On first glance the area is inhospitable, and too difficult for a city – least of all the capital of a country. It’s full of valleys and mountains, the land rising from 3,000 m all the way up to 4,000 m with the Altiplano. Someone recently had the brilliant idea of cable cars as the main form of transport. It’s an ingenious strategy for a place that has to go over numerous cliffs, crevasses and steep ridges. Contrast that with the llamas, old indigenous cholitas (ladies) in bowler hats with brightly coloured aguayos around their backs carrying their produce, and all of it against the backdrop of snow covered peaks, and you can see why tourists flood their Instagram accounts with photos.

Working with the ecclesia

My duty and privilege was to support the ecclesia. It has been a difficult time for them, not least because the last resident missionaries (Brother Shimon & Sister Joanna Spina from Perth, Australia) returned home last year, after finishing their stint. The ecclesia had never known life without resident missionaries there to support them, so this was really a time of great transition for the members, forcing them to stand on their own two feet. There have been bumps and turns along the way (as evidenced in the Apostle Paul’s letters), but they were there when I arrived (February 13 to March 17), eager to learn and progress in their walk to the kingdom.

We studied Elijah, learning how God was working in his life, teaching him and making him develop spiritually from the events that he endured. From what the brethren told me, they were really able to understand what God was teaching through the ministry of this prophet, knowing that it is only through trials and tribulations that we are going to develop our characters. We had classes about three or four times a week, with some of the old contacts coming back and showing great enthusiasm to learn. It was really encouraging.

Facing new challenges

I am now based in Santiago de Chile with Brother Andrew & Sister Shaye Yearsley. However, I returned to Bolivia (from April 29 to May 9), and it was a really encouraging visit, even more so than last time. What I can see in Bolivia now is the culmination of many years of hard work by different missionaries and other brethren who have come through. While it may not be evident on the outside, having worked with other ecclesias which have never had long-term missionaries, I can see the marked differences. Things we take for granted in our own ecclesias at home, which seem to us so logical and self-evident are in fact not, if you’ve never grown up with them.

So, while it may well be a challenging period for the ecclesia without the support of long-term missionaries, they definitely have the ability to make the best of their situation, especially after so many years of ‘training’. Anyway, Bolivia is such a popular travel destination (and one I would highly recommend!), so I’m sure there will be some reading this article who will be able to pay them a visit. For information, contact Brother Shimon Spina.

Brydyn Melles

 

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