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

Appa and Amma (edited 14/10/2019)

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


My dad belonged to an extinct group of high-grade nursing staff called "Hospital Assistants". They did the combined work of general practitioners and nurses. He excelled in his job, took on more administrative responsibilities and before long, his superiors appointed him "Chief Hospital Assistant"

I told my friends he worked as a nurse because many of them didn't know the difference between a hospital assistant and a hospital attendant. Dad looked dashing in his uniform - a white 4 pocket cotton safari suit and pants. His well-ironed starched uniforms smelt of medication most of the time and he never failed to take his flask-filled coffee every day to work. He served diligently at the clinics as an administrator but his first love was to dress the wounds of those ridden with injuries.  I can't remember him ever taking leave from work.

His parents migrated to Penang, Malaysia, from India, in search of a better life. His mother gave birth to him in Penang as her firstborn. He returned to India, as a boy, with his parents and siblings. His father had made some money in Penang and so he decided to return to Tirunelveli, South India.

My grandfather, a farmer at heart, bought land and grew crops in India. His business flourished but a serious economic recession wiped out the old man's capital and savings. He had no means to adequately care for the family. And so my grandfather sent my dad back to Malaysia to earn a living for himself and to send back money for his siblings.  My father, the eldest son, had no choice but to return to his birthplace, Penang, as a teenager. He studied, worked hard, and sent money back to help his dad and his siblings.

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

My father, because of his life experiences, helped the downtrodden and championed the underdog. On more than one occasion he served others at the expense of his own family, much to the annoyance of my mother!

We called him Appa - a term of endearment amongst Indians only reserved for fathers. A voracious reader with a social conscience, dad grew to be a "self-made" man. He worked his way from isolated rural areas to the emerging urban centers in Malaysia and Singapore. My dad saw a huge chunk of significant history - the Japanese occupation, liberation, independence, merger, racial riots, the separation between Malaysia and Singapore. He kept a mental note of critical events and never lost sight of those who made an impact on Malayan history, he stubbornly believed that Singapore and Malaysia were one country, Malaya. 

In terms of faith, his high church Anglican instincts convinced him of the eucharist's power to mediate God's saving grace. Long sermons made him bristle but he loved to sing the hymns - in the church as well as in the streets!  . He loved football and supported Liverpool and Arsenal.

Sam, as he was affectionally called by his friends, lived to celebrate his 82nd birthday before 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 immediately rushed him to the hospital; complications stalled his recovery, and 3 months later the Lord took my father to Glory. I served him the sacrament a month before he was called home to the Lord. My sisters, Rebecca and Rachel together with Reuben my elder brother took care of my dad's funeral arrangements.

The distance between Bolivia and Singapore made it difficult for me to return to be a part of my father's funeral. He began to pass away on a Sunday morning and on that same morning I preached in Bolivia to the congregation on the challenge to carry the cross.


My mother, Ruby Yesudian, born and raised in Singapore, witnessed the calamity of the Japanese Occupation during WW2 as a young girl. We called her Amma. Her father worked as a proof-reader in a big publishing house in Singapore and epitomized the educated middle-class Indian gentleman; his wife, a strict homemaker, disciplined her children and struck fear in them. My mother scared us with stories of our grandmother rubbing chili powder in their eyes if they misbehaved. My mother admired her father and distanced herself from her mother. My grandparents on my mother's side were first-generation immigrants from India. They passed away in Singapore unlike my grandparents on my father's side. I have 2 uncles and 1 aunt from this side of the family.

My mother kept it all together at home with the help of my Aunty Rani; they raised the four of us (I was the youngest) in some very trying circumstances. She fed and clothed us with the little of what was available to us in the 60s and 70s. She put a lot of weight on our education and engaged tutors to help us get better grades. They don't come any better than my mother. Her diligence and perseverance in the face of trials and setbacks continue to inspire me. Amma introduced me to the joys of reading; she regularly took us to Bras Basah road to buy 2nd hand comics for her children to read. Her gift of a Bible to me for my confirmation changed my life. She urged me to read it but also warned me to not become a fanatic! The daily Bible reading habit motivated me to grow in my knowledge of the Lord and poised me to receive Christ as Savior.

In her early 50's, my mother experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit in St Paul's parish; her life changed dramatically. She studied the courses on the bible, learned to play the guitar, sang choruses to old folks and served with the Anglican Welfare Council as a social worker and counselor in the prisons. Her mentor and friend, Mrs. Felicity Carter encouraged her to and opened doors for my mother to exercise her gifts and talents to the glory of the Lord. She kept long hours and on more than one occasion she returned home looking very tired; she never gave up but her sense of fulfillment in ministry kept her going. My mother, blessed with an innate ability to empathize, possessed great listening skills.

The years, however, took their toll and she left the Anglican Welfare Council. The years passed quickly and she suffered from Alzheimer's. She finally succumbed to a stroke after having spent an extended period of time with my sister Rebecca in the US.

My parents struggled to give us a good education and sacrificed gave up the comforts of life for the greater good of their children. They never claimed to be model parents in their struggles to raise us. I regret not doing more for them. And I speak for my siblings when I say how blessed we were to have them as our parents. Sam and Ruby, that's how they were called by their friends, continue to inspire me on many different levels. The Lord loved them deeply in their tribulations. They hit rough patches also in their marriage but they stayed together in His love. Yes, I'm deeply grateful to the Lord for having given them to us as our parents.

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 mother's sister, our 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.