Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Bolivian Beat Met The New Archbishop?

Meet the new Archbishop of Myanmar, Bishop Stephen Than Myint! On his right is Bishop Henry Scriven.

Bishop Stephen is a Karen Christian and Karens are not the most popular ethnic group in Myanmar. Karens, not unlike the Kurds in Northern Iraq, harbor nationalistic/autonomous aspirations. Its not the best of situations to be in. Third world clergy also struggle against adversity in some very difficult situations.

I met a Burmese bishop at Trinity Theological College's library recently; he looked a lot like Bishop Steven. In fact I think he was Bishop Stephen!! We shared our experiences. One point of common interest was the political instability of both, Bolivia and Burma.

His statement that he was a simple priest and not a politician struck a deep chord.

Pray for the good Archbishop!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


AGS Dhinakaran passed away today, the 20th of February. The funeral service will be held on the 22nd at the Royapettah YMCA grounds in Chennai, India.

Dhinakaran was the "Oral Roberts" and "Billy Graham" of Tamil Christianity. His ministry, JESUS CALLS, has had a huge impact in the worlwide Tamil speaking community.

Dhinakaran was charismatic figure; his messages resonated with people in great need. Blessed with a deep timbre and the ability to reach out to the masses, he will be remembered for his teachings and campaigns.

AGS Dhinakaran will be missed.

Our prayers are with the family and his associates.

The interview below from a website Cuba Para Cristo offers a peek into the Cuban Church.

A Cuban Christian who has been a pastor in Havana for over thirty years described how God is working in Cuba in a recent interview with a Cuba para Cristo operative.

What's the history of the church in Cuba?

Cubans have been believers by tradition but unbelievers by education. Now they're seeking spiritual help, so if we don't give them Christ, the devil will give them any old thing.

In '59 all evangelical denominations supported the revolution, and many leaders and members fought to bring down Batista.

In April '61 the leftist tendencies of the government came to light, which sparked anti-government campaigns from the Catholics and the reaction of foreign governments affected by the confiscation of their companies. As a result of the difficult and tense atmosphere, many Christians left the country and at the same the government set up institutions which defined it clearly to be Marxist-Leninist.

It's hard to describe such an unstable period: many Christians remained faithful to their principles, and although quite a few stopped going to church, only very few had to close for lack of attendance.

In '65, sixty pastors and students in Havana were sent to UMAPs (Military Production Aid Units; concentration camps cutting sugar cane). None of those churches went without a preacher: one failed to open that Sunday purely out of fear, the others all opened their doors. This sort of thing happened all over the country, and it was a great blessing. Churches realised that lay people had to do the pastor's job, and suddenly lay ministry came into play, which meant we had many more gospel workers available than we'd realised!

For many years there were no meetings in people's homes and Christians were barred from some university courses, yet the churches never changed their programme: there were evangelistic crusades; there was an emphasis on the cross and the resurrection using singing and drama; Christmas became a purely Christian celebration since outside of churches there were no decorations of any kind. In short: Christians didn't stop!

To this day I'm not aware of a single person ever being jailed specifically for preaching the gospel.

Tell us about your work in Cuba.

I was 15 in '59 and in secondary school. I had been a member of an evangelical church since age 11, where my mother and sister were members too. From the very beginning we played an active part in the various governmental organisations that arose, without reducing our involvement with church.

Once the revolutionary process defined itself as Communist, I had to make decisions that affected the rest of my life. Feeling called to the ministry meant cutting off any other links and that wasn't without consequences. God blessed my wife and me with four years in seminary before starting as a full-time pastor at a time of acute economic crisis in the country: '71. In less than one year we had two daughters at a time when getting hold of a bike was a matter of prayer, effort and sacrifice, but was needed to serve surrounding churches that were without a pastor.
In over thirty years of service I've always had more than one congregation and have never lacked a pulpit to preach from. Cuban Christians haven't been hiding!

We're certain that all our difficulties have contributed to strengthen us as Christians and brought us to a deeper dependence on God.

What's the state of the church in Cuba now?

I don't think we're seeing a revival in Cuba but there has been a realisation by Christians of the opportunities available to preach and testify to a nation where most people's ambition consists of getting a visa to any other country, and tell them that Christ is their only hope in any country. Many have been receptive and as a result we have a record number of people professing, being baptised, going to seminary, being pastors, being lay church-planters, in music groups, so in the end we're living through a time where the more the material difficulties grow, the more God's people experience and proclaim the glory of His Name.

What are the greatest danger and the key strength of the Church here?

Complacency: 2% of the country is in our churches, but there are millions yet to reach!
Our key strength is prayer, but we need to use it! We need to keep Christ in first place in our lives and have a steadfast personal devotion to Him.

What is your greatest joy and sorrow as a pastor in Cuba?

Joy: I had to bring up my children in a Marxist-Leninist educational system, yet they are all walking with the Lord, loving the Lord, His work and this country. They have travelled outside the country and yet they know to value the unique opportunity of witnessing to Christ in Socialist Cuba.

Sorrow: Not having done everything we could have done and having ignored things that we've only noticed as we go into the home straight, when it's too late for us.

What stops you from taking the next flight to Miami and being a pastor there?

God called me to be a pastor in Socialist Cuba, so I'd have no excuse. I was called when they were hurling stones at us in the streets, calling us lazy and shouting that we should go and cut sugar cane. Now I walk down the street and people in the village greet me as their pastor - why wouldn't I stay? What would I say to Jesus?

My wife and I have thrown in our lot with the Christians whom we love.


Fidel Castro, wracked with illness, has announced his resignation as Cuba's President and premier leader.

His brother Raul has been effectively Cuba for the past 2 years. Fidel's spirit and fervor permeates the whole island and his influence will only begin to wane when he passes away.

Castro is not just a person in Latin America. He's a metaphor for the struggling underdog. And believe me there are many struggling underdogs in Latin America! Castro to them is a true hero. He's stood up to gringo imperialism since the 60's! Also Cuba's universal health care and medical research has won the admiration of many albeit with some criticism.

So its hard to see him drifting away from politics. He'll be an influential force behind the scenes.

Cuba has not seen the last of Fidel Castro.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Lord Have Mercy!

Last year's floods devastated the Eastern regions of Bolivia.

Floods this year, caused by La Nina, have left a trail of destruction. Prensa Latina are reporting that 40 municipalities were declared disaster zones yesterday, with almost 90,000 families affected and 57 people reported dead.

The photo (Reuters/Alert Net) on the right top hand show a family living in makeshift tent as a result of the floods.

Lord Have Mercy!



Some of you would have noted the dip in posts on this blog. The rythmns of the Bolivian Beat have been silent for long periods.

Heard of bloggers block?

To be honest, I'm finding it difficult to post stories outside of Bolivia. Yup, I'm still in Singapore! For a number of reasons I've not been able to return to Bolivia. And its been tough to talk about Bolivia from Singapore.

Perhaps the Bolivian Beat might have to change its focus and begin to take on a more Singaporean flavor or rythmn...

Also some important decisions have been made which will probably affect the direction of this blog.

Friends get ready for some profound changes.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I had the chance to preach and do the Eucharist at the Anglican Church in Cambodia recently. Actually it was the last Sunday of 2007. The third world ambience of Cambodia reminded me of Bolivia! Open and packed neighbourhoods, dust, busy traffic, half finished buildings and the heat brought back memories of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

The Khmer language is fascinating but difficult to learn. The Sanskrit influence over the language is also visible in the sharp ended twirls in and around Khmer architecture. It was great to meet with some of the national Khmer leadership and the local missionaries who atttend the Anglican church.

I visited a former prison where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed Cambodians in the early '70s. It was ghastly to see the instruments of torture and the skulls. The atmosphere of the prison, now a tourist centre, is sobre and very disturbing. The stories of human suffering and brutality left me numb and horrified.

God Save Us From Ourselves!!

I left Cambodia on a high note. I got to know some fun loving missionaries and saw a testimony of Christ encouraging His flock and reaching out to heal a nation!

Praise The Lord!