Saturday, March 31, 2007



APRIL Ist 2007

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2007



Bolivia celebrate the "Day Of The Sea" Dia Del Mar on March 23rd. Its that time of the year when Bolivians stake their claim to the city port which Chile seized several years ago. Demonstrations, parades and speeches are part and parcel of the Day Of The Sea. Attempts at undoing this act of aggression by recovering their only outlet to the sea is deeply embedded in the Bolivian psyche.

At the turn of the 20th century, Chile, invaded Bolivia's only port along the Pacific coast. This land grab was the result of Chilean militarism, Bolivian passivity and regional politics. Since then Bolivia has been characterised as a land locked country. Bolivians have never forgotten their loss to the Chileans. A historical equivalent would be Japan's sneak attack and destruction of the American fleet at Pearl Harbour.

Diplomatic relations do no exist between Chile and Boliva. Any attempt to try and bring Chile and Bolivia together is always marked by Bolivia's insistence on the return of their land.

Bolivian presidents never fail to remind the world community of their rightful claim to the territory, especially when its their turn to speak at the UN general assembly. Children are taught in schools to never forget the injustice that was perpetrated by the Chileans.

Chilean presidents have never tried to settle this matter in an amicable manner. Its a pity because what's at stake is not a huge piece of, mineral-rich, real estate but only a small port city. Returning to Bolivia what is rightfully theirs will hardly create a dent in the Chilean economy. The Chileans have the entire coast to themselves and are a powerful economic and military entity in South America. Bolivia pose no threat to them.

It remains a mystery as to why Chile have never seriously considered Bolivia's claims.

Saturday, March 24, 2007



Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I was invited to Ireland, early last year, to talk about the work in Bolivia at a missions convention put together by South American Mission Society, Ireland.

The highlight of this trip were the opportunities to see the various sites associated with St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Visting the ancient cathedral from where he launched his missionary endeavours and standing next to his supposed gravesite were special experiences. Patrick was a missionary- evangelist in the best sense of the word. He was consecrated a Bishop to reach out to the various tribal groups in Ireland. His exploits, whether it was reaching out to his enemies with the gospel or praying for the sick, formed the bedrock of a strong Irish church.

St Patrick's day parades are green affairs with lots of fun and carousing. I doubt if Patrick would approve of some of the goings on in these parades.

In Bolivia we don't have a St Patricks day parade. There are two Irish pubs in Santa Cruz and they draw a crowd of merry revellers.

Maybe there's an Irishman out there who could enlighten us on the origins of these parades and the reasons for their popularity.

On a personal level the Irish are an interesting lot. This is the civilization that gave us Van Morrison, U2, Rory Gallagher, George Best, Pat Jennings, Edmund Burke etc... The irony of course is that Patrick is not Irish! He could have been Welsh. We don't really know.

Patrick continues to inspire us to evangelise and disciple the lost; he was not a fly by night hollywood style evangelist but a diligent apostolick worker amongst the people.

Lord raise up Bolivian "Patricks" to share the gospel.

Monday, March 12, 2007



Sacrifice, a fundamental act of obedience to God, runs counter to established norms and expectations.

Jesus, in the midst of growing support for his movement, does the unthinkable: He spells out the messianic call to suffer humiliation, die on the cross and be raised 3 days later. A suffering messiah given over to the enemy? Sounded absolutely crazy.

"Is he on something"? his followers must have asked themselves. A fiery heavenly blast against the Roman empire, would have been their preference.

Peter probably spoke for his disciples when he began to rebuke Jesus; rural Galilee had pinned their hopes on this young carpenter. This was not a time for suffering and humiliation but revolutionary change. In contrast, the great messianic hope, talks about being handed over to the enemy in Mark 8:31-38.

In heaven I hope to see a DVD of this episode. It must have been a riveting scene.

Death, suffering and resurrection were part of an overall plan to settle accounts with a Holy God. Jesus, the Son of God, unlike a poll driven politician, knew what the stakes were: a Holy being, unbesmirched by sin, had to bear the full force of God's judgement that should have been ours. Jesus, weighing the cost of his impending act, in Gethsemani, consumed the cup of God's wrath on the cross and rose from the dead in victory.

Jesus valued obedience to His father.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Don't snigger guys...its actually possible...

Men don't take their wives seriously. We normally smile, listen half heartedly and give a platitude to convey the impression we're attentive to their needs. Some of us just grunt. Impressions even when they're not false don't last, especially under the corrosive effects of reality and time. 20 year old birthday cards get brown around the ages. The goodwill generated through an anniversary dinner lasts only for a couple of weeks. Sooner or later impressions, especially the false ones, run their course, quickly.

Taking others seriously is work. Its easier do overtime at the office or read a book. Or better still just switch on the TV. Its easier to feel the angst of empty celloluid TV figures than to work through issues with real people. Undoing emotional knots, in love, is not for the lighthearted nor the cowardly. Its costly - like carrying the cross. Hence the hard work to not only listen patiently but to also take seriously our spouse's comments and needs. That's tough, especially for men. At times we just don't have anything to give, be it emotional support or money.

All the doors seem closed until the Saviour steps in to pour His love in our hearts. In ways beyond human understanding, Christ's love for His church fills our wounds. His love for us is cruficied and bloody; true love flows from pain none of us can truly bear. Its strange - this daily invitation of our Lord to share in His sacred love within the nitty gritty of married life. And we say YES to the invitation.

Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...Ephesians 5: 25

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I dedicate the Bolivian Beat's 100th post to my father, JWD Samuel and mother, RubyYesudian (lady on his left)


Dad was a male nurse. He was born in Penang but returned to India, as a boy, with his parents and siblings. His father had made some money and was determined to make it big in his homeland. The great depression however wiped out the old man's savings. He had no means to care adequately for the family. My father, the eldest son, had no choice but to return, as a teenager, to what was then called Malaya. He studied, worked and sent money back to help his dad.

It must have been tough because he probably lived on on the generosity of relatives and friends in Malaya.

My father, because of his own experience, was sensitive to the needs of the downtrodden. On more than one occasion he helped the poor and needy at the expense of his own family. My mother was annoyed at his generosity! We used to call him Appa - a term of endearment amongst Indians only reserved for fathers. A voracious reader with a social conscience, dad was a self-made man. He worked his way from a rural setting to the emerging urban centres in Malaysia and Singapore. Appa saw it all - the Japanese occupation, liberation, independance, merger, racial riots, separation between Malaysia and Singapore. Dad was a verbal historical archive who passionately believed that Singapore and Malaysia were one country, Malaya.

In terms of faith, he was, as a high church Anglican, totally convinced of the eucharist's power to mediate God's saving grace. Long sermons made him bristle. It was my priviledge to serve him the sacrament a month before he was called home. He loved football and was an ardent Liverpool fan.

Sam, as he was affectionally called by his friends, was 82 years old when he passed away. One day he slipped, fell awkwardly and broke his hip; there was no one in the house. He crawled to the phone and rang for help. An ambulance took him to hospital; complications developed. 3 months later he went to glory. As he was slipping away I was preaching a sermon in Bolivia on laying everything aside and carrying the cross.


My mother, Ruby, was born and raised in Singapore. We call her Amma. Her father was proof-reader in a big publishing house; his wife was a strict homemaker; they were both first generation immigrants. I have 2 uncles and 1 aunt from this side of the family. My mother stilll scares us with stories of our grandmother rubbing chillie powder in their eyes if they misbehaved.

Mum kept home and raised 4 children (I was the youngest) in some very difficult circumstances. She fed and clothed us with the little that was available. Education was important: she tried to help us by engaging tutors. They don't come any better than my mother. Her diligence and perseverance in the face of trials have always inspired me. Amma introduced me to the joys of reading by buying 2nd hand comics for her children. And most importantly was her gift of a Bible for my confirmation. It was a life-changing gift. This little bible triggered a process which saw me through everything - from my conversion through to the call to serve in Bolivia.

In her early 50's, we were all taken by surprise when mum was filled with the Holy Spirit; her life changed dramatically. She took several courses, learned to play the guitar, sang choruses to old folks and worked as a social worker and counsellor. The hours were long and draining but she felt fulfilled. My mother, blessed with an innate ability to empathize, is a highly gifted listener. The years however have taken its toll in her retirement; she is frail but not ailing and looks forward to seeing her grandchildren and her great grandchild.

Were my parents fallible? Did they have weaknesses? Yeah of course...but that doesn't really matter; they were great parents and continue to inspire me on many different levels. In difficult times, and believe me there were several, they simply stayed together.

Thank you Appa and Amma!!

God bless both my parents!!

The black and white photo above is ancient (thanks to my cousin David for sending it to me):
On my mother's left is my elder brother Reuben; on my father's right is my elder sister Rebecca; next to her is Rachel - the eldest in the family- on her left is my Aunty Ranee.



According to Cardenal Julio Terrazas and UN officials a primary reason for the floods in Bolivia is deforestation.

The loss of trees coupled with land abuse severly weakened nature's defenses against the impact of constant rain. Yes, the rains were torrential but certainly not the sort that could have caused flooding of this magnitude.

Incredible. Upsetting the ecological balance has brought about death, the loss of homes, destruction of communities, sicknesses, disease and God knows what else. Stranded families will probably drift into the city which will strain the resources of the city's municipality.

Folks, protecting the environment is now a matter of life and death.

We need to go back to our Bibles and work through some of the implications of our role as stewards in maintaining creation. The mandate to rule over the earth in Genesis does not mean abusing God's precious earth and playing havoc with its ecological balance. Is it any wonder that Paul in Romans 8 talks about creation being subjected to frustration and the need for its liberation from the bondage to decay? Its only the promise of future glory and the manifestation of the glorious freedom of the children of God which give us hope in our struggle to evangelise and protect God's creation.