On August 16 of this year, I (Jason) amazingly completed 14 years in Bolivia! I remember that first old pickup ride from the airport to the seminary in Sucre and knowing that my life would never again be the same. We were arriving with a short term missions team from the local western Maryland / West Virginia area in January of 1996. We only stayed physically for a little under two weeks then, but my heart never went home. Eight months later I found myself in that same old pickup… but this time, to stay.
Of course I hadn’t planned on staying for so long, but when God has something up his sleeve, it really doesn’t matter what we plan or don’t plan. There are several things in life that I planned on NOT doing. I said as a teenager that “I will never go to Bolivia!” (Really! It’s a LONG story). I have also said that I will never be a pastor… After living in Sucre for years (9,000 ft. in the Andes Mountains), I said that I would never live in a flat, hot, humid place like Santa Cruz. Today I find myself pastoring my second impacting church with my bolivian wife and three children in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. 🙂 The funny thing is that even though I had never wanted any of these things, I find myself incredibly happy and fulfilled. One of things that I have learned is that God knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I need and what makes me happy.
The truth is that I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I continue to learn. Just the fact of having lived and learned to do life in two totally different cultures teaches you a lot. What a contrast Bolivia is with the United States. I was taught personal responsibility, to work hard and to be honest. I was taught to be generous and loving towards others. I’m not quite sure how I was taught that, I just know that those are the values that I try to live by. You would think that it’s like that everywhere… but it’s not.
It’s one thing to arrive in Bolivia and see the need that so many people have. It’s another thing to understand WHY they still live that way, and as long as things don’t change INSIDE of them, it really doesn’t matter how much you help them externally… they will ALWAYS live that way. Needless to say; personal responsibility, hard work, honesty, generosity and loving others are NOT values that most Bolivians share. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not stereotyping people… what I’m saying is that there is a REASON people live like they do. It’s not just bad luck, or because someone stole everything from them. It’s because of their values and their way of seeing and living life.
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In the area of God, “Religion”, Church Planting, etc. I have learned so much too. My point is that I feel that I have a lot to share. Over the years I have felt the urge to write down some of my ideas, but I never did. There’s always been that small fear that in publishing my views and opinions about certain things, I can upset some of our supporters. What we least need are people who give so sacrificially so that we can do God’s work here in Bolivia to be upset with us. At the same time, I feel that we can give so much. I’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway… and just do it.
I’m going to take advantage of this space to talk about; God, Church Planting, Politics, Culture, Software, Weight Loss, Values, and anything else that comes to my mind. I’m just going to write, and I’ll let God do the rest. 🙂 I DO NOT want to upset any of our supporters. I do not want to be confrontational. I would like this blog to be a place where I can share my ideas, and we can get into great discussions about those ideas!
May God bless you greatly, and please come back often! Link to the site if you can, subscribe to the feeds, and we pray that you enjoy this greatly!