Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Conversations, especially during informal occasions, tend to veer into politics. Bolivians are a chatty lot...and sooner or later missionaries will be expected to make some sort of a comment.

The present government has broached some issues with provocative statements and bold policies; yup...there's a lot to talk about these days!

Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, recently, severely criticised the judiciary and accused supreme court judges of corruption. He stirred a hornets nest. Lawyers and judges are going on a one day strike. Corruption, however is rife in the judicial system. Is it any wonder that the president's statements resonate amongst the populace? Political discussions can sometimes get quite heated when folk begin to take sides.


I try to keep a respectful silence until someone asks me for my opinion; there have been times however when I get into the fray and say my piece. I've learned to exercise self control, avoid vitriolic comments, stay close to the facts, try not to take sides, respect the current government and to also express a christian viewpoint whenever necessary. If a particular government policy or action collides with the christian faith, then I respond clearly and firmly without rancor. People expect nothing less from their christian leaders.

A degree of discretion is important because I represent the church and being a foreigner forces me to not be impulsive or incite folk against the elected government. We are called to honor the emperor and pray for governing authorities. A missionary is not a smart-ass-know-it-all but a foreigner, an invited guest, whose task is to bless the nation through his work in the church. He or she, especially if they are new missionaries, should listen intelligently and understand social issues & customs before trying to venture an opinion.


On a personal level, I have generally not avoided conversations over difficult social issues. I've been here for 14 years and people expect me to not only have certain convictions but to also share them. Its a welcome challenge because these informal times provide opportunities to not only listen to people's fears & opinions but to also react compassionately to what's going in the nation.

Yup...missionaries should be wise, be it as a listener or a contributor in any conversation.

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