(MNN) — Bolivia's
government has promised much to the poor, but many still struggle to get jobs
and food. Sometimes, their desperation
leads to crime, said Sam Vinton of Grace Ministries International.
"This has been seen by some of our MK's," he explained. "Several of them were walking back from
school and were accosted by people who came, took away their cell phones or
whatever they had there."
The missionaries and their school are located in the city of
Santa Cruz, which is a center of opposition to Bolivia's new
constitution, according to BBC News. The
constitution was approved by a referendum in January 2009.
Vinton said that a sort of uprising had occurred in the
city, around the time of the referendum.
"They had captured some of these buildings, and through that
time there's been difficulty there," he said. "Since that time, there's been quite a few more robberies…I imagine
because of unemployment and unrest."
With economic problems on a global scale,
Vinton believes that missionaries all over the world will increasingly need to
be concerned about the same issues.
"Many other countries are going through the
same thing," Vinton said. "People get to the
place where they're desperate and they have no food, and there are no jobs…I
think that's just one of those things that missionaries are going to have to be
more careful about."
Although students at the school in Santa Cruz have not had to deal with any
further incidents, the school is concerned, and families are being
"You're not going to stop your life because of that, but it
does cause us to have concerns for the safety of young people who will be
going from school back to their home," Vinton said.
The missionaries are taking more safety precautions, such as
using cars or walking in larger groups, and talking about how to react to
someone who has a gun. The best defense,
however, is prayer.
"We just have to really get people praying for safety,
especially the safety of our children," Vinton said. "We need to ask for prayer, and not only for Bolivia. All over the
world, I expect to see or hear more of this type of…behavior taking place."
GMI missionaries work with Bolivian church organizations in
evangelism, church planting, youth, and leadership training. This includes AWANA programs, a year-round
camp, and ministry in three schools.
Pray that God will guide the missionaries as they share the Gospel in difficult circumstances.