From Bolivia…

I’m writing you tonight from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the largest city in this country of 6 million people in the heart of South America. With Pat Wright and Jonathan Mitchell, we have been traveling through Paraguay and Bolivia since Thursday. We’re coming home tomorrow (Tuesday).

The experience of overseas missions has always been special to me and I’ve taken many trips through the years beginning with my first to Korea in 1987.  I find the experience refreshes my perception of God, His vast world and the assignment of the Great Commission.  This trip was no different except in the personal impact it had on my spiritually in ways I hope to explain in coming days to you.  I want to stress to you that I would love to have you travel with us next year to Ecuador and Columba.  Plan on it.  You will be changed by the experience.

The Church of God in Paraguay is active, has strong, passionate leadership and are fully engaged with church planting and leadership development.  I found Bishop Antonio Montiel and his wife Naomi (she’s from Virginia) to be gracious hosts but far more I found them to be able leaders in this country.  I was deeply inspired by the three regional elders (what about that?) who oversee the large geographical territories and their insights on church planting.  (Look for my blog post next week on church planting thoughts)

The Church of God in Bolivia was far more advanced that I expected.  The country is in the heart of the continent and its national overseer is Roberto Suarez and is a blast to hang with.  In less than 48 hours, he took our team to an orphanage (Refuge of Hope); a church school (Life and Light); a local church under construction; we interviewed 17 church planting couples, and I preached at Abundant Life Temple to a crowd estimated at 700.  In between, we ate beef, beef, beef, and more beef.  My digestive system will need weeks to recover…veggies for me for a while!  Seriously, the Church of God is alive and both countries blew me away when they received offerings to send back to Ohio for church planting with Hispanic and Cross Cultural groups!  I’m writing about that soon with a video from here in Bolivia. (Check back for that post.)

In 2011, our state will be engaged with both countries for four fundamental pieces of ministry partnership:

  1. Church planting
  2. Educational advancement
  3. Ministry to Women at Risk
  4. Rehabilitation of Children

It should be exciting.

Finally, there is a bit of an announcement coming about South America and Ohio that will be released soon.  Needless to say, I’m eager for you to know it and will have more to say when the public announcement is made.

As always on the final night of such trips, I’m ready for Ohio…it’s been in the 90s everyday and I’m tired of sweating!

Headed home!