Field Update – Bolivia

Members of our pastoral training team in front of the Torre de David rock formation in Chochis, Bolivia

The purpose of ALTECO is to equip tribal Christian leaders of the Amazon and lowland regions of South America to effectively make disciples within their own communities and among other unreached tribes. We accomplish this by partnering with the local church (or churches); they are expected to lead while we assist them as necessary. Given the vastness of the region, local churches can be few and far between. Finding them is an arduous process, much less ones with mature leadership and with whom we can develop a strategic relationship. This requires much in the way of prayer and networking – and of course, research. As we find and establish communication with these leaders, we proceed to connect them with other churches and ministries in their own countries and throughout the region. ALTECO is quite unique in this approach to equipping and empowering leaders as we are committed to the tedium and opportunities to fail along the way. There are no guarantees. We trust the Lord to bring the right people, and He has done faithfully done this.

A prime example of His work in this regard has been to connect us with a man named Cesar in Bolivia. Cesar is a pastor and faithful servant of the Lord, and as an indigenous Chiquitano Indian, he has a heart to see the Gospel flourish among the tribes of Bolivia, including his own. Recently, Drake traveled to Bolivia with the ALTECO team (and as a coordinating leader of the Three Waves Movement, or MTO) where they met with Cesar and other lowland Bolivian tribal church leaders. Core to their conversations was how to investigate opportunities for tribal churches to network and work together as a movement to lead unreached Bolivian tribes to Christ. In this manner, Drake’s presence was essential, and much was discussed in terms of developing a country-wide research strategy. While there they had an opportunity to travel with Cesar to visit a pastoral training center being built on a newly-acquired property in Bolivia’s semiarid Gran Chaco region near Paraguay.

Nearly 50% of Bolivia’s population identifies as tribal/indigenous, making it the most indigenous nation in the Americas. While most of this indigenous population are from the highlands, most of the distinct tribal groups are in the lowland jungles of the Amazon or Gran Chaco. And as this is also where the need for missionary church planting is greatest, Drake is training indigenous missionaries to “ground truth” the realities in these areas through the use of field surveys. Please pray for success in this process as it will be a massive project. In Bolivia, we were reminded of real risks we face in this work, as Drake at one point had a very close encounter with kidnappers posing as police officers in the city of Santa Cruz. We are thankful for the Lord’s protection over Drake, as by maintaining situational awareness, he evaded the criminals and fled while he had the opportunity.

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