Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Bolivia locks herself down in a life n death struggle with, CV-19, an unseen enemy!
We’re allowed to shop at the supermarket for our daily needs but we can only do it once a week. The police and the military patrol the streets. My barrio looks abandoned … there’s nothing for the dogs to bark at; cars have disappeared from the streets, and all shops and banks remain closed. It’s different in the poorer districts at the periphery of the major cities of Bolivia - markets here are open and people mingle with little understanding of social distancing. Slowly but surely people are adhering to the rules.
President Añez declared a 3-week quarantine that will hopefully be lifted on the 15th of April. In terms of church-life, congregations meet through Zoom for bible studies, Sunday services, and other meetings. It’s a novel experience for many – sadly not everyone has a smartphone. The President has chosen the health of her people over the nation's economic well-being. Mortgage payments have been deferred. Financial handouts together with social benefits have also been announced.
I shudder at the economic impact of CV-19 on the Bolivian economy and on church finances. We´ll not only have to tighten our belts after this crisis but we’ll also have to think through how to function, as a church. The Lord’s putting us through this crisis to radically change the way we think about ministry and outreach.
Missionaries left an expensive and complicated ecclesiastical machinery for the national leadership to manage, and early missionaries with more resources got away with a strong paternal approach but it’s a different scene these days. This is not a criticism but a historical observation from mission fields around the globe. The emerging national leadership needs support and encouragement to fulfill their calling, and there is a still place for older more experienced missionaries to mentor and coach those willing to listen. Pray for us – CV19 has brought to surface issues that require focused attention and the gumption to make tough decisions.
On a personal level, Michelle and I stay in our home, listen to music, cook n clean, play with our dogs, read, watch TV for the latest updates and stay abreast of what's happening - in the nation and in the world.
The present crisis has been an overwhelming and heartbreaking experience – the poorer sectors of society clamor for food, the savings of the middle class will disappear and the elite will hunker down. 
We’re a bunch of “Tower of Babel” builders who’ve reaped what we’ve sown.
Oh! for the mercy of God - times like this when the Kyrie Eleison resonates powerfully in all our hearts:
Lord have Mercy
Christ have Mercy
Lord have Mercy
People look to us for easy answers on their terms, but the gospel provides a Way or better said HIS WAY– a journey on the Lord’s terms.
Our celebration of Holy Week takes on greater significance, - beginning this Palm Sunday!

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