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Missionaries bring aid, hope to victims of Bolivia quake

AIQUILE, Bolivia (BP)–One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in Bolivia devastated the Quechua Indian cities of Aiquile, Mizque and Totora four months ago.
For a few days, world attention focused on the area and many relief agencies flocked to the scene.
Ninety days later, people still were in dire need, but most of the foreign aid had ceased. Many people had a tent and some blankets to shelter them from the Andean cold — but little else.
That’s when Southern Baptist missionaries and their Bolivian coworkers brought food, veterinary assistance and spiritual hope to an isolated area where many had never heard the good news of God’s love.
Right after the earthquake, “there were so many international agencies trying to help the people that there were plane crashes on the small air strip in Aiquile,” said International Mission Board missionary Malcom Massey. “Goods went to waste for lack of a distribution plan.”
Massey and IMB missionaries Toby and Cindy Hoover and Thomas High teamed with Bible Society and Bolivian Baptist volunteers to visit the quake victims. They knew Southern Baptists were praying for the effort.
“We certainly felt your prayers for our safety as we traveled on treacherous dirt roads, at times climbing to nearly 10,000 feet above sea level,” High said. The roads, destroyed by the quake in places, have just been reopened.
The missionaries helped distribute food bags, along with packets of Christian literature that included New Testaments, Bible story books and school notebooks with Bible verses.
Hoover, a veterinarian, vaccinated 269 dogs and cats against rabies and treated pigs for parasites so they can gain weight and provide more meat in the future.
“We visited people in the tent camps and our hearts were touched listening to their stories of the terrible night, of being thrown about like dolls, of never seeing friends again, of the walls that open and close as the earth continues to move,” Massey said.
Each night of their time in the area, the missionaries showed a Quechua-language version of the “Jesus” film, an account of the life of Jesus taken from the Gospel of Luke.
“For most, it was the first time to hear the gospel story in their own language,” Massey said. “Many thanked us and promised to think and talk about what they had seen and heard.
“In one tent camp, a young Quechua woman named Mercedes came to Toby Hoover the morning after we showed the film and asked how to accept Jesus as her savior and lord,” Massey said. “She prayed to receive Christ.”
An unusual evening thunderstorm in Mizque halted the showing in the middle of the film, High said.
“But God had plans for a larger audience to see the film,” he said. “The following evening, we obtained permission to show the video on the local television station.
“We plowed a lot of ground and sowed many seeds, ” Massey said.
“Was it worth it? For Mercedes alone it was worth it. But even more for the people who now know the truth of Jesus’ message, who have Bible portions in their hands and who met Christians that loved them enough to leave comfort and risk danger to bring them a message of God’s love — for them, it was worth it.”
“Pray that the gospel seeds planted will continue to bear fruit in the lives of the hundreds of people who saw the film,” High added.

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  • Wally Poor