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Training Pastors in Bolivia

Evangelism could be banned in Bolivia. The South American country’s socialist government is fast turning communistic as led by President Evo Morales who will be running for his fourth consecutive term in 2019. A self-proclaimed Leninist, Marxist, Communist, President Morales has introduced over the last several years severe restrictions on religious freedom.

Most Bolivians believe a mix of both Catholicism and animism. President Morales has stated that he is a Catholic; but like many rural Bolivians, he was raised with a combination of Catholicism and belief in Pachamama (Mother Earth figure) as well as on Ekeko, a traditional indigenous god of luck, harvests, and general abundance.

Bolivia has had for a long time a poor track record in terms of religious freedom. Last year the government led by president Morales introduced Article 88 of a new penal code which stated that “whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom, or hosts people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized 5 to 12 years of imprisonment.” This law basically declared sharing the Gospel on the same level as terrorism. A Christian would face 5 to 12 years in prison for sharing Christ.

As this was set to become law, evangelical Christians and Catholics protested strongly and due to mostly outside pressure, the law was repealed. For a number of years, Bolivia has been included on the “Persecution Watch List” of Open Doors International, which presents a group of countries that is not part of the World Watch List Top 50, but where serious degrees of hostility from the government against Christians and churches are prevalent. 

A law that was passed and is in place as of 2014 is Law Nº 351 March 19, 2013 Article 17. This Law is for Granting of Juridical Personality to Churches and Religious Groups. The interpretation and application of this law is that all Christian must have a formal theological education in order to serve as a pastor. This is very difficult to do for many Bolivian pastors. This law might sound reasonable at first, but when you understand that Bolivia is one of the poorest and under-educated countries in our part of the would (first Haiti, then tied for second place Nicaragua and Bolivia), you understand that it is a direct attempt to take pastors out of churches and stop many others from being able to follow God’s calling as pastors in Bolivia. Basically the government wants to control the activities of the evangelical churches.

In our short time being back in Costa Rica we have been able to minister not only in prison ministries, but also in pastoral training. We have had several activities this year bringing churches and pastors together to focus on common objectives: sharing the gospel, training leaders, and missions. Next month--working with Institutos Bíblicos de América Central (IBAC /Biblical Institutes of Central America) –we will be teaching our second pastoral training module this year. The reality for pastors around the world today is one wherein bi-vocational pastoring is the norm. This is not right or wrong; it is just the reality. 

There are many difficulties faced by bi-vocational pastors and the emerging church leader: 1) time management—in that they often have two full time jobs. 2) Isolationism from other ministers. 3) Finding the means to study and grow in a formal environment.

 

A new opportunity has opened up for me, Pastor Max Bastos, and Pastor Estaban Amaya. We have been invited to Bolivia to train 50 bi-vocational pastors with the same module training we are doing here in the greater San Jose area. In providing this training we would be helping answer the demand that the Bolivian government is placing on the local church.

As I have mentioned before we are partnering with Institutos Bíblicos de América Central (IBAC /Biblical Institutes of Central America). IBAC is a ministry established by Dr. Jim Wilson (Th.M.; D.Min., Dallas Theological Seminary).   

DESCRIPTIVE OVERVIEW OF THE MINISTRY OF IBAC

The ministry of IBAC is an opportunity to equip pastors and church leaders in Central America (and now in South America!) through a long-term commitment and relationship and to provide biblical, theological, and pastoral training to Central American pastors/leaders who are in desperate need of such training, but who have little access to it.

IBAC Courses:
1) To Trust And Obey: Reliability and Authority of Scripture,2) Reading the Bible for Understanding and Impact, 3)Bible Study Methods and Principles of Interpretation, 4)  Old Testament Overview, 5) New Testament Overview, 6)The Doctrine of God, 7) The Doctrine of Christ, 8) The Doctrine of The Holy Spirit, 9) The Doctrine of Man And Sin, 10) The Doctrine of Salvation, 11) Principles of Teaching, 12) Preparing Biblical Messages, 13) Ecclesiology and Pastoral Theology, 14) Church History

 

The financial cost and need for the ministerial ministry with IBAC in Bolivia from September 3 to 8, 2018:

 

Number of leaders to be trained: 50

 

Costs include:

  • Transportation, food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and lodging for 50 bi-vocational pastors

  • All course materials for 50 students for first module

Total of the budget for ministerial training:  in Bolivian: 17.337,5 bob (boliviano) = $ 2,500

  • Stipend for 3 air plane tickets for those teaching the curse $750.00 x 3 $2,250.00

  • Total in US dollars: $4,750.00

    • Cost per person/student $95.00

    • Cost per person/student per day $15.83

 

Above that amount, we would also like to raise money to provide…. 

  • for the church hosting the event 10 tables (totaling $1,000.00) for use for the training week and for future trainings.

  • and 50 study Bibles, with notes, maps, concordance, etc., for each pastor participating.

 

If this is a need with which you could help—even in the smallest regard—please click here to donate through Push Pay through our home church. Under “Giving Type,” choose Grace Global Ministries. In NOTES, indicate the gift for “Pastors Training, Bolivia.” To donate via check, please write check out to Grace Global Ministries, with a note “Pastors Training, Bolivia.” Send to Grace Global Ministries, PO Box 12, Cedarville, OH  45314.