International Ministries

Workers of God, Missionaries with Vision in Bolivia

May 5, 2012 Journal
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Jenny, Jessica, and Brett served in Bolivia with Mario Morales and the House of Hope in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Pastor Raul's interview of the three volunteer missionaries is a touching story of their call, their step of faith, and the impact the community and the volunteers had on each other.

 Bolivia is quite a unique country, completely different from anywhere else in the world, especially when it comes to comparing it to first-world countries like the United States. There are people selling goods on sidewalks, chaotic traffic, colorful parades, at least one demonstration every week, and every other thing that makes this land so particular. Now, if there’s one thing that millions of Bolivians and Americans have in common is their faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior.

 After receiving a call from God in their hearts, fellow West Virginians Jenny, Jessica, Brett have arrived to this country with different concepts and visions but with the same mission: to spread the Word of our Lord and be of service for anyone in need. When in the U.S., they all attend Elizabeth Baptist Church. All three missionaries grew up in Christian households where they received the Word on a daily basis.

 Jenny’s mother played a critical role in her daughter becoming a follower of Jesus Christ by taking her to church when she was a child. Jessica had a similar relationship with her aunt. She accepted the Lord as her Savior when she was sixteen. Brett was raised as a believer by his family, too. They were the ones that taught and showed him the way. “That’s just where my life was”, he confesses.

 They received the call from God on different occasions and under a variety of circumstances. Jenny says it’s sometimes very hard for her to talk about it, “I’ve never been anywhere and the Lord called me to come to Bolivia”, she says, “I struggled for several months with that and the Lord took care of all my indecisions and all my fears and brought me here”. What did it take? Just a lot of prayer and the unconditional, loving support of her mission-minded husband, John. Jenny’s even brought her granddaughter here and she can’t wait to come again!

Being of service is what made Brett hear God’s call: “As a Christian I’ve always been a servant. I just feel the need to serve people”, he explains, “but first it was mostly just to serve people at home and, well, this is my first trip. I just heard the call and the responsibility came… and I came”. He also tells how he missed an earlier opportunity to visit Bolivia supporting a group of youngsters from his church. Eventually, he got his chance because he felt that God was telling him to come here, so that’s when he decided he needed to come.

 Jessica had heard some people from her church tell stories about the mission work and that’s how she became interested. “I felt that maybe that’s what God wanted me to do”, she says. But it wasn't quite a quick decision to make, “I guess that I put it off long enough and when Jenny said ‘I heard you wanted to go to Bolivia sometime’ I said ‘Yes, I do’ and here I am”, she tells us with a big smile on her face.

Change is never easy, so when the time came for their first trip to Bolivia all three missionaries had different expectations about the mission work. And their first impressions were just as different. Brett’s wife had come twice before him and he helped her put music to pictures to present them at their church “so I pretty much knew what everybody looked like and what the place looked like”, he explains. He’s found the lifestyle here completely new, though, “the vendors on the streets, everybody’s out trying to make money any way they can, where at home people go out to work and when there’s spare time they’re in the house or doing hobbies. It’s totally different culture”.

 The positive energy in people here is what surprised Jessica the most when she first arrived here. “I expected it to be a poor place where maybe people didn’t have the kind of lifestyle that we enjoy at home”, she elaborates, “but what surprised me was their attitudes about their life are better than ours at home. They’ve got every reason to be sad and angry but the ones I’ve met personally are not”.

 The now experienced missionary Jenny first arrived in Bolivia in 2004. Her impression then was one of amazement: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, to be honest. It was so much chaos!”, she says frankly. It was all new to her: “the traffic, and the horns, and the despair, and the poor people, and the hunger”. However, she’s witnessed a lot of change over the years, some of it for the good and some of it for the better and she has grown very fond of this land, too: “when I land here I always feel that it’s a place I can call ‘home’. I get the feeling like ‘well, you’re home at last’, she concludes.

When it comes to what is it that they like the most about Bolivia, the three Americans answer in turns. Jenny looks forward to seeing her friends here but she does have a place she always asks to go to: Toro Toro. “It’s so quaint!”, says the veteran missionary. Brett has found the people here very loving and willing to help others. He says it’s phenomenal and that the presence of God is really felt and it’s the same everywhere. Then Jessica, in a happy tone declares her favorite part was the activity they had that day at Kumi Ministry. She just loves to see the kids having a great time running and playing, “but ask me tomorrow, I might tell you whatever it is that we do tomorrow would be my favorite part. I don’t know”.

 “Integral mission” is a rather serious concept. It involves sacrifice, love, a lot of work, and most importantly, placing the Word of God in the hearts of all the people we help. Brett believes it’s vital to tell people that Jesus loves them whenever they’re being helped because there are physical needs as well as spiritual needs. For Jenny it’s literally “helping people help others. We don’t want to just give them money or things to keep them going, we want to teach them how to take care of themselves”. She’s seen a lot of people and a lot of places and when she thinks about the biggest needs in this country she openly says she’s sure there are lots of them. Nonetheless, she makes it a point to emphasize on nutrition, especially talking about children because, as she puts it: “without proper nutrition when you’re small, you don’t grow up to be a healthy adult”.

The experience of these workers of God in our country has changed our people’s lives as well as their own. Jessica says for her it’s been humbling and life-changing. “For ‘humbling’ I think your problems aren't the only problems in the world; that other people have a lot bigger problems than you”, she declares, “And ‘life-changing’, well, I don’t know. I guess everything about it. You never look at it the same”, the missionary continues.

In the end experiences have been gained. Lives have been touched. Stories have been told. The Word of our Lord is currently being spread. And our three missionaries are finally asked to leave a message to the people in Bolivia. They all have something beautiful to say and share as people of faith serving people in need. “I would leave with them the message that with Jesus Christ there is hope”, affectionately expresses Jenny. We turn our heads to Jessica as she says some truly powerful words: “If God is for you, then who could be against you?”. And last, but certainly not least, Brett leaves a message he really seems to believe in, “I just think that the love of Christ is for all people, not just believers, and we’re all God’s people”, he pronounces with conviction.

 Read about about Mario Morales, missionary

Read about House of Hope

To volunteer at House of Hope or another missionary or location around the world, contact the Volunteer Team at International Ministries   or call 800-22-3872 ext 2366.