Bolivia (MNN) ― Peace talks quietly began five days ago between Bolivia's president Evo Morales and the opposition governors. It's one of the early efforts to bring to an end the deadly violence that has crippled the nation and created profound mutual mistrust.
Morales' proposed reforms are being met with outrage and protest. Protesters last week stormed government buildings, sabotaged natural gas pipelines and clashed with the government over autonomy.
However, there are concerns that the talks could deepen the rifts if the opposition moves forward to force the government to amend a new constitution.
Nita Zelenak with New Tribes Mission says the worst of the unrest happened in parts of the country where they do not have personnel. That's the good news. The flip side is that "whenever there's civil unrest in a country, it affects their ministry to a certain extent. They have concerns about safety issues, so they have to divide their attention between the two things."
Even with the distractions of a national emergency, she notes, "Most of our folks work in rural areas that are quite a ways away from where most of the unrest is, so they've been able to continue with their work."
New Tribes has teams in Bolivia working to establish indigenous New Testament churches among the unreached people groups. Specifically, they want to see churches established in the eight tribes they've targeted and to see three other groups reached who are without a clear Gospel witness in their heart language.
The vision is to see this job done by assisting New Tribes' sending churches, the local church in Bolivia, and the tribal church. Contrary to rumored reports, the field is not closing down, and there was no confirmation from New Tribes over the possibility of a government-ordered missionary expulsion.
New Tribes continues to evaluate the danger, keeping a careful watch on changing conditions. Zelenak says, "Pray for the civil unrest that is in Bolivia. We're seeing some encouraging steps that maybe it's getting better, but that would continue for the good of the people in Bolivia. [Pray] that the work can continue there."