Thursday, May 23, 2024
Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeAll The NewsThrough the Eyes of a Teenager: Growing God’s Ministry in Bolivia 

Through the Eyes of a Teenager: Growing God’s Ministry in Bolivia 

By Chris Vines, Discipleship Pastor at Garrett Memorial, Hope

One of the great joys in following Christ on His redemptive mission in this world is going alongside people you love. As a pastor, I have a consistent desire to take people from our church to foreign places in order to encourage believers and make Christ known to those who have yet to believe in Him as their Savior. In March of 2023, God granted me this privilege as 15 of us from Garrett Memorial Baptist Church traveled to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Our time there was spent in many different ways. We painted, moved bricks and ate a lot of good, authentic Bolivian food made just for us. We laughed, prayed, sang and cried with our Bolivian brothers and sisters. Many local pastors were encouraged and trained in reading and preaching God’s Word. Space in this article doesn’t allow me to share all that happened while we were there, but there is space to share one of my greatest joys since my call to pastor people in Hope. 

Six of the 15 people on our team were teenagers. Some had never flown before, and none of them had traveled outside the United States. Seeing them interact with new people and hearing them express what God taught them as they traveled to a different culture was spiritually invigorating, so much so that I asked one of our young team members to share her experience with you. I am so thankful Sophie Johnson agreed to this. She is a bright, Spirit-filled young woman who is doing great things for Christ’s kingdom. I hope you are encouraged by her testimony:

“I have grown up with a large map of the world on my wall, falling asleep at night dreaming about traveling the world. Each time my dad has come home from an overseas adventure, my heart would burst with the hopes of maybe one day going on an adventure myself. My dreams are now coming true. This trip to Bolivia was my first time going out of the country, my first international mission trip and our first mission trip as a family. Encountering another culture and bumping shoulders with people who speak a different language was very eye opening.

“Our team worked at the seminary complex where we scraped, sanded, pressure washed and painted the outside and inside of the building. At lunch, our team joined the Bolivian pastors in plastic chairs, sat down at the row of plastic tables put together, and ate outside under the shade of two big trees. The ladies who cooked our lunch became good friends with my mom and her friend, Mrs. April.

“One day, the Bolivian ladies taught us how to make empanadas, which was an amazing experience. One of the most rewarding experiences of the trip was meeting and becoming good friends with Paula, one of the daughters of these ladies. Paula would work and play with us. We taught each other our languages; she would point at something and say it in Spanish, then I would say it in English, and we would say the word over and over again until we each got the pronunciation right.

“Behind the compound where we worked there was an open field with two goals. So every day, after we finished working, we walked to the field and played soccer with the pastors and some of the locals. Of course, they beat us every time, but it was still really fun.

Marvin Flores became a fan favorite of our team because of his jeep. It was great riding in the backseat with five other people and getting jostled in all the traffic there. Marvin was a super nice guy, buying us ice cream and giving us his phone to play music through the car speakers.

“This trip reminded me that God works everywhere. I can forget that sometimes when the only believers I encounter are in my hometown. Of course, I read about missions and how God is working all over the world in stories like this, but it was hard to truly comprehend until I had been to a place like Bolivia where God is working in the hearts of the people. It was encouraging to see people outside of my own church in their walks with the Lord, and it was awesome to play a part in helping the Lord’s ministry grow.”