Bolivia diplomatic turmoil bring some concern to ministries

By September 15, 2008

Bolivia (MNN) — The Bush
administration expelled Bolivia's ambassador to the U.S. after
Bolivia expelled the U.S. envoy there in an escalating diplomatic fight.  

In a show of solidarity, Venezuela's
President Hugo Chavez claimed the U.S. was trying to depose him,
and he expelled the U.S. Ambassador and
recalled his ambassador from Washington.  

The move by Chavez chills relationships further after a
spate of accusations against Washington. Two years ago, Chavez ordered missionaries out, accusing them of spying.
He also accused the U.S. of trying to
oust him, echoing Bolivian allegations of political interference by the U.S.

Mission groups are concerned that conditions for ministry
could get tricky, especially for expatriates. Sam Vinton with
Grace Ministries International says, "We're trying to get nationals trained
in theology so that they would be able to do any kind of official teaching, so
that would be something that could be affected." 

Vinton says the upheaval has not directly had an impact on
their work. "We have a strong
national church board and churches there. I believe the expansion of the
ministry and the evangelistic outreach and teaching and training on the lower
level would be able to continue." 

Grace Ministry's missionaries are working with the national
church organization made up of 24 churches.
Through their partnerships, they are developing ministry projects in
evangelism, church planting, youth, and leadership training.

Ministries to the youth are being provided through three
schools where 1,800 students are
receiving Christian-based education. A year-round camp and AWANA programs in
the churches enhance the ministry with the youth.

So, while ministry is strong, Christians need support for
what's to come. Vinton says, "Pray
for the people, that peace would be restored and the Gospel would continue to
go forward. Though again, we know that sometimes the Gospel goes forward in a
stronger way when there's opposition. So we just have to pray for faithfulness
on the part of our Christian brothers and sisters."


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