Bolivian Church Service
Sorry this post is a day late however once it reached midnight last night I decided to wait till this morning to post!
Today marks our first full day here in Cochabamba, Bolivia and after traveling for 24 hours over the course of the past two days it is nice to finally be here! After arriving at the House of Hope yesterday afternoon we were introduced to the couple who runs the house, Carmen and Richard, and also were able to see a small sampling of some of the wonderful things that the House of Hope Ministries does in order to minister to the community. We also met one of the local families that lives here in Cochabamba and enjoyed greatly getting to eat dinner and have conversations in Spanish with them; which was very exciting. Beforehand I was worried if my Spanish preparation for this trip had been adequate however getting the chance to talk in Spanish with this family was a huge blessing and helped me to set those fears aside.
Today we got the opportunity to visit a traditional Bolivian church service which was interesting because it was spoken in one of the native tongues rather than in Spanish. Thankfully our fearless leader Mario Morales was able to translate most of the sermon for us. The service held roughly the same format as services back in the states with the sermon mainly focusing on the promises of God and how one must actively seek God and trust Him to fulfill those promises and blessings in our own lives. The thing that struck me the most about this church family though was the vulnerability and openness that they shared with one another. At the end of the service the preacher called for those with needs to come forward to be prayed over. Many from the congregation came forward and kneeled down and as the pastor prayed I couldn´t help but notice that many who were kneeling were weeping as they themselves lifted their own prayers up to God and also comforted one another. As I compare this “altar call” to ones in American churches that I´ve seen I can´t help but think to myself that this kind of openness and vulnerability would almost be frowned upon in the states. We go to church on Sundays but never seem to take the time and energy to fully connect with those around us. We may fear what others would think of us or that people would inwardly judge us or that we would look silly in some way if we were to open up and be fully transparent. I myself share many of these reservations but I think without this transparency and expression of weakness we never really develop that deep sense of church community that is vitally important to spiritual growth. As I go through the rest of this Ignite Experience I pray that God will open my heart to the people around me and that I would develop community with those around me. Galatians calls us to “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” and today I feel was a fantastic example of that verse being lived out in front of my own eyes.