“That’s not my ministry”: why loving your neighbor is everyone’s ministry

February 8, 2018 |

“The poverty is jarring, painful, unjust, overwhelming and very nearly hope-depleting.”


This is SAM missionary Laurie Bremer’s reflection on poverty after living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with her family for their first 2 years of ministry.

“It causes me to feel guilt, shame, compassion, empathy, and so many other emotions all at once,” she continues, “every time I am reminded that I am in the car and they are on the streets. Just like the last time we drove through this intersection.”

According to Bolivia’s National Institute of Statistics, the portion of Bolivia’s population living in poverty has dropped 20% in the past 15 years, but it still rests near 40%. This reality is the context for many of SAM’s missionaries who have to wrestle daily with how to engage with this poverty as compassionate Christ followers.

“There are some things I imagine one never gets used to,” Laurie states. “Abject poverty is one of those things.”

“Is this just a fool’s errand?” she asks. “From every earthly perspective, it is. This mess is far too big. I want to throw my hands up in despair. I want to run away to where poverty isn’t so confrontational. What an ugly truth to realize in one’s self: I prefer poverty in avoidable pockets that don’t encroach into everyday suburban life.”

While Laurie may be particularly outspoken or self-aware in this realization, she certainly is not alone. According to the US Census Bureau’s 2016 estimates, the United State’s poverty rate hovers around 12.7%, or 43.1 million people. Despite this fact, though there was a rise in charitable donations last year, only 25% of the US adult population volunteered their time to a charitable organization.

It’s simply more comfortable to click “donate”.


Eradicating poverty, ending homelessness or solving world hunger requires action and effort. Even if our calling is to a specific career or ministry that feels disconnected from these issues, we must still avoid isolating ourselves from the “least of these”.

“We know many hardworking, long-suffering missionaries who are involved in street ministry. They work with addicts. They work with children living on the streets… I know that I am not called to this ministry,” Laurie declares. “But that does not negate the question, ‘What am I doing here that makes a difference in the life of the impoverished people in Bolivia?’ Because it is not okay for my answer to be ‘nothing’. I can’t just say ‘Well, that’s not my ministry’… I truly believe that the ministry in which we are engaged will bear fruit and [that] some day it will rain blessings upon the least of these.”

Because it is not okay for my answer to be ‘nothing’.

Laurie and her husband serve in professional class ministry, interacting daily with pilots, lawyers, doctors, dentists, academic and civic leaders in Santa Cruz. Though her ministry focuses mostly on the middle and upper classes, she sees the direct connection to the impoverished communities around her: “As overwhelming as the depth of poverty reaches here, what if there was revival at all levels in Bolivia? What if professionals with the ability to make a change were awakened to how God has called us all to care for the least of these?”

It’s not an excuse to avoid the homeless. She will see them every day. They will ask for money at her car door and she will continually feel the overwhelming burden of the impoverished in her city.

But Laurie does not despair: “Without Christ, it would feel overwhelming and hopeless. It would BE overwhelming and hopeless. But we know that He cares greatly for those who have so many desperate needs, just as He cares for those who have so much affluence that they feel no need for Him at all.”

The call to love our neighbor extends beyond all socioeconomic boundaries. We do not have the right to limit the command to love your neighbor as yourself based on personal preference or comfort.

“Do we know that we will live to see the eradication of such terrible poverty in Bolivia?” Laurie asks. “No, we do not. But I know this for certain: Because of the faith and the hope that we have, fools or not, we will go down fighting on this errand, if that’s what we’ve been called to do.”

SCCLC Jan ’18 Flood Relief

January 9, 2018 |

SCCLC Flooding

A flash flood unexpectedly struck Santa Cruz, Bolivia on the night of January 1st. Rains inundated and covered the entire campus of the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center (SCCLC) in a span of just a few hours, filling classrooms, offices, the gymnasium, and library. The SCCLC is an international k-12 Christian school with more than 200 students.

Giving to help restore and rebuild the school has begun. You can join the relief efforts here: www.southamericamission.org/floodrelief

Teachers, staff, students, missionaries, and parents spent the first week of 2018 scrubbing the floors, extracting the mud, sorting the debris, and restoring what was left of the school’s resources. Many of the volunteers that week had flooding issues of their own at home, but they sacrificially gave their time to the SCCLC. This international Christian school plays such a vital role in its community that its students, faculty, and network of parents so actively participate in its restoration now.

The initial, modest estimate of damage is $35,000. The school also estimates that $20,000 is needed to work on the property to ensure that future heavy rains do not damage the classrooms and facilities again in this way. The goal is big, but God is bigger.

SCCLC Flooding

With your help, the SCCLC can be revived, its classrooms and offices can be guarded against future flooding, and its students and teachers can approach the rainy season each year without fear.


The SCCLC needs your help today. Your donation of $50 or $100 would help buy new text or library books. A gift of $1,000 could restore an entire classroom worth of supplies and furniture. A greater amount would help with the much needed flood prevention for a school that seeks to fulfill the Great Commission in Bolivia. All donations are tax deductible.

Please give what you can today: www.southamericamission.org/floodrelief

Year-End Giving in 2017

November 3, 2017 |

year end giving

It’s November—Summer is long gone, Thanksgiving approaches, and Christmas shopping begins (if it hasn’t already). As the holiday season blurs before you, there are a few easy ways to pause and consider how to generously use the resources that you’ve been given through year-end giving.

Here are 3 ways to give back before the year is up:

1—Amazon Smile: the best thing about Amazon Smile is that it costs you nothing. If you’re shopping on Amazon, the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of any purchase to the organization of your choice. As you purchase Christmas gifts, groceries, household goods, or new winter coats for the family, head on over to smile.Amazon.com to make your money go further. You’ll be prompted to enter in the name of your organization before shopping: just enter in “South America Mission”, located in Fort Mill, SC, and make us your benefitting organization.

Can’t remember to go to a different url for this cause? Google Chrome makes it even easier for you with a plug-in called “Smile Always” that automatically reroutes you to Amazon smile every time, ensuring that each purchase makes a difference.


2—#GivingTuesday: this social media-based movement has grown rapidly in the past few years. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday expand larger and larger each year, a counter-cultural movement to give back emerged. Giving Tuesday is a call to donate to non-profits on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, as a way to launch the giving season. This year on November 28th, when the Thanksgiving weekend has come to an end, consider giving back to a non-profit.

South America Mission received more than $50,000 last year on Giving Tuesday. People generously and selflessly chose to give back during a season culturally marked by consumerism. Get ready to give again to SAM on Giving Tuesday 2017, and have your gift to SAM’s Vision Fund DOUBLED!


3—Year-End Giving: historically, year-end giving has made up 30% of many non-profit organization’s annual donations. Individuals and corporations annually look at their own budgets and consider end-of-year tax-deductible donations. Non-profits, likewise, evaluate their projected annual budget and total amount still needed in order to meet their goals.  Most year-end giving happens on the last 3 days of the year, but there’s no need to wait until the day before the New Year to invest in a worthy cause.

In 2016, approximately 15% of the year’s total donations were received in December, helping South America Mission meet our funding needs for the year.

Every donation counts and every gift makes a difference. Join us this year in making ministry possible and continuing to bring the redemptive hope of the gospel to every town, tribe, and nation in South America. Donate now.

CCB Peru Celebrates 25 Years

May 2, 2017 |

CCB Peru tribal students
The fog lifts each morning on the Ucayali River, as locals travel into Pucallpa, Peru, for trade, education, and work. Pucallpa, the capital of the Ucayali Region, is Peru’s largest port city, and sits at the Northeast end of the only highway extending from the Pacific coast to its region. It rests on the edge of Peru’s upper Amazon basin rainforest and is home to the CCB Bible Institute.

 

In 1992, the CCB or Centro de Capacitación Bíblica opened its doors for the first time, and in 25 years it has grown from a class size of six to an average of 50 students, representing over the years a total of 18 different tribal groups, and resulting in 360 graduates 90% of whom are active today in ministry.

This past January, the CCB welcomed 70 students from five tribal groups who will participate in its two-year program. Graduates immerse themselves with the local Shipibo-Conibo Tribal Evangelical Church Association, serving by making disciples, training others in evangelism, modeling leadership for the emerging generation, as well as carrying out social and community development projects that improve health and increase access to food, water and education.

One goal of the CCB is for students to discover and use their spiritual gifts to strengthen communities of faith, including their individual families. Students work diligently on thesis papers during their time at the CCB, while the faculty and staff, who are Peruvian pastors and lay leaders, mentor the students. As each program cycle brings new students, it also brings its hurdles. “Each year differences in language, levels of education, and customs of other tribal groups bring new challenges to the program of CCB,” SAM missionary Tom Hough explains. Despite these changes, the training center continues to grow and impact its community.

Tom expresses excitement when he talks about the impact of CCB’s outreach programs, set up through a partnership with the Shipibo-Conibo church association. He recalls, “[they] continue to travel through the vast jungle region of Peru into many different tribal groups… During 2016 more than 25 major trips were made… visiting more than 50 villages on 12 different river systems.” Tom speaks confidently, and hopefully, about the CCB’s purposes being accomplished, “lives are being transformed because of the efforts of the graduates through evangelism and discipleship. The process is working and tribal churches are being planted.”

The growth, momentum, and impact of the CCB is invigorating, and its continued success after these first 25 years will be the direct result of the time and resources that so many have given, and continue to give, to see this ministry flourish. Funding received to sustain the ministry of the CCB helps cover students’ transportation needs to and from villages, room and board, tuition, textbooks, and costs associated with medical care the center strives to provide. $600 enables an indigenous pastor to train for an entire year at the CCB, and contributes to the advancement of the gospel of grace in the Amazon basin of Northeast Peru.


Make it happen Will you donate to sustain the discipleship and pastoral formation work of CCB $50 per month sustains a pastor at CCB for one year. Help keep the momentum at CCB in 2017 as it celebrates 25 years.

To donate, visit: www.southamericamission.org/ccbperu.

Proclama. Psalm 96:3.

March 3, 2017 |

Proclama mobilization ministry based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

“I’d like to tell you about Sandra. She is a dear friend and a member of my church in Santa Cruz. God placed a burden on Sandra’s heart for unreached peoples when she was 15, and that burden has developed into a calling to serve Him to reach the people of the Middle East.”      – Dana Wilson


In 1969, missionaries from South America Mission planted the Christian Missionary Church (Iglesia Cristiana Misionera or ICM) in the heart of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The faith community of ICM still stands today, and they are sending Sandra to serve in cross-cultural ministry in the Middle East. Though it does not have sufficient funds to provide all of her financial support, this local church has recognized God’s call on Sandra’s life for ministry and God’s call for the church to help.

When Dana Wilson arrived to Bolivia in 1998, she attended ICM, not knowing what would come of her service there. She began working as an English teacher at the church’s school, eventually transitioning out of teaching into missionary mobilization. In her second year, Dana helped the church complete its first mission trip to share the gospel in a neighboring town, and by her fourth year in country, she joined the SAM Bolivia Missions Team.

Proclama. Psalm 96:3. Mobilizing the Church in Latin America.The Centro de Entrenamiento Transcultural or CET, based in Cochabamba, Bolivia, invited Dana to receive mobilization training in order to help local Bolivian churches develop a vision for their participation in God’s global mission. Though this encounter with CET felt like an accident at the time, 14 years later, it has become the resource and responsibility of PROCLAMA (derived from Psalm 96:3, which in Spanish reads, “Proclamad entre las naciones su gloria…’), an entity newly formed in 2015 (under Dana Wilson’s leadership) with a vision to see a missionary movement catalyzed from within the South American church to reach the Nations for God’s glory.…Read the entire article HERE.

 

City Church, Lima, Peru

April 29, 2016 |

City Church gathering, Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru, is the “new global culinary epicenter”, according to a recent article in Condé Nast Traveler. If you ask Julio Chiang what makes Lima so great, he’ll talk about the cuisine, confirming epicurean journalists’ opinions. But he’ll become more reflective, too, thinking about the greatness of the city where he was born and now lives as the founder and lead pastor of a new church—Iglesia de la Ciudad, or City Church…

The City Church video was produced in partnership with Silent Images-www.silentimages.org

Yes, the ceviche is exquisite, but Lima finds its true greatness in its 10,000,000 people. It’s a fair question: “What’s so great about an urban mass of humanity?” For Julio, the heart of Lima is about millions of God’s image bearers, so close he can touch them, all needing the gospel of grace. Recently, Julio shared how Iglesia de la Ciudad is acting as a dispenser of grace in one of the world’s greatest cities:

The name of your church is Iglesia de la Ciudad. You prefer the translation, “City Church”. Why did you choose this name for your church plant?

We wanted our name to actually include the word “Church” because we believe the only hope for the redemption and transformation of Lima is the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s the vehicle for redemption that God has chosen.

Also, we’re a church that is for the city, or “city positive”, a church that builds for the welfare of the city. Over the years the church in many instances has separated itself from urban life and culture, but God, just as he instructed Israel through the prophet Jeremiah upon entering Babylonian exile, has called us to be connected to and serve the city.

Tell us about your logo for City Church. What does the design communicate? 

First, the vertical and horizontal lines represent city streets. They intend to remind you of an urban map. Then the small circle layered over the “streets” creates the image of a cross, conveying the concept of Christ at the center of our city.

City Church, Lima, PeruAnd then the way the streets and the circle intersect, the effect is a reminder of stained glass, which for us is about tradition and history. We need to emphasize certain historical traditions of the church and contextualize them for our culture today…Read the entire interview HERE.

Older posts