Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The Sendero Luminoso Episode

Bolivia was not exactly a beacon of political stability and social harmony. And so there was anxiety on the part of some of our relatives over our plan to serve in Bolivia. Elijah's grandparents were especially vocal about his safety and future prospects. He was only 3 years old.

"Its ok, if you want to go to Bolivia, but what about Elijah and his future. He is so young. What sort of an education is he going to receive in that place? An elderly relative cornered me with his worries.

One day another relative, after expressing her fears concerning the impending trip, confronted me with an article about the growing influence and presence of the Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path), the most feared Peruvian Maoist influenced terrorist groups in Bolivia. Their ideology and methods were not unlike the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. They had no qualms about using violence and murdering innocent people. I had already seen their impact in Lima, Peru during a trip with Bishop Moses Tay and Cynthia.

Did I really know what I was getting myself into, I thought to myself.

Sendero Luminoso, had made deep inroads into the poorer barrios of Peru. Its leader, Abimael Guzman, had a certain mystic about him; he was feared and spoken off in hushed and revered tones. His influence was spreading and there was a moment when his terrorist movement were winning the hearts and minds of the poor. And now this group were beginning to set up shop in Bolivia!

I read the article, treated her concerns seriously, told her of the Lord's protection and promised to pray over the matter and bring her concerns to the Lord. "If he wanted us to go to Bolivia, then He would have to deal with Sendero", I told her.

A week later, I was reading the Straits Times and was pleasantly shocked and thrilled to read the headlines, Abimael Guzman Arrested! Peruvian special forces not only nabbed him but also the top leadership in an upper middle class barrio in Lima. Their arrest dealt a major blow to Sendero and signalled the beginning of its end as a major threat to Peru and Bolivia.

There are no coincidences in God's kingdom. I was getting cagey about Bolivia's instability and Guzman's arrest was an encouragement. He'd take care of us. I rushed to tell my wife of the news. We were both excited and knew in our hearts that the Lord had given us a guarantee of His protection as we made plans for our flight to Bolivia.

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