As news of the political situation in Bolivia is making international headlines since the Oct. 20th elections, we asked our Bright Hope Bolivia staff to share their perspective of the current events with us…
FREEDOM AND THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN BOLIVIA
The Christian faith in Bolivia has played a leading role in this civil movement that led to the resignation of President Evo Morales, after 21 days of a proven electoral fraud. During this time, thousands of Christians prayed and fasted in their homes and temples, and also turned to the streets for prayer vigils and public worship, humanitarian aid and provision of food and medicine. As perhaps never before, the Bolivian population prayed publicly for a single request: justice and freedom for our future, as well as peace among all Bolivians.
THE BIBLE, IN THE CENTER
Second to the Bolivian flag, perhaps the most relevant icon that united the majority of Bolivians – both Christians and not – to hold protest in the streets for 21 days, was the Bible, the Word of God. How did this happen?
One of the main leaders of the civil movement, Luis Fernando Camacho, promised on November 4, “to return the Bible to the Government Palace,” as a symbol representing the feelings of the majority of Bolivians that are Christians and that long for the Word of God to be the foundation of our nation. On Sunday, November 10, the Bible was placed on the floor of the government palace, on the Bolivian flag, clearly showing God´s supernatural intervention. This event anticipated by one hour the verbal resignation of President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera.
EVO MORALES STARTED WELL
Evo Morales began his first term in 2006 with the support of the majority of the population. He triumphed in national elections without opposition three times in a row. Almost 70% of the votes on one occasion. He was the investment of the hopes of change of the Bolivian people, tired of racism, neo-liberal exploitation and political instability that was an atmosphere that allowed for opportunism and robbery. Evo Morales could have come out as a hero and been remembered as one of Bolivia’s best presidents.
It is for this reason that many Christians, leaders and people, trusted him. Some evangelical denominations made an open pact with the government. Others did not hide their sympathies for the regime and supported it unreservedly throughout their almost 14 years in office.
ALARM SIGNS FOR THE EVANGELICALS
The first warning signal to the evangelical people was the pachamamist [a “Mother Earth”-type goddess of the Incas] and pluralist spirit of the New Political Constitution of the State (2010). Some evangelical leaders focused their criticism on promoted idolatry, paganism covered in pluralism and the false separation between State and Religion. Others questioned the introduction of gender ideology through several articles in many laws.
In the educational field, for example, pagan rituals were promoted from the State, in schools, in the name of “traditional knowledge” or the right to profess the various “spiritualities” of the more than 30 nations originating in Bolivia. These events stirred discontent against the regime in much of the evangelical people.
The second, much stronger, warning sign was the attempt to control the church through threats and bills that allowed the State to interfere in church administrative matters—with laws that were not appropriate to the legal nature of the churches. Those law were rejected and generated the consensual search for another, the “Law of religious freedom,” that was finally approved after several years of negotiation, legally guaranteeing the existence of religious organizations without interference from the State.
The third sign of the anti-life and anti-freedom claims of the Evo Morales government was a new penal code that decriminalized abortion and also limited public preaching of the Gospel. This law generated the first mass mobilization of the Bolivian Christian people and public manifestations of prayer and fasting, which eventually repealed the law.
All these events matured the social and political consciousness of the church, which, through diverse actions, educational congresses, training for leaders (such as Bright Hope’s Ministry Development Program) and social networks, were growing in their understanding of the meaning of the KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS JUSTICE.
JESUS CHRIST IS VISITING BOLIVIA
There is no doubt that God has been pastoring His Church all these years. We have learned to pray for political and social issues. The Word of God has sown zeal for justice, freedom and truth in people´s hearts. This has been clearly seen in the mobilizations. Right now, Bolivia is being a light of hope for all those who love freedom on the continent.
How many evangelistic campaigns and outreaches would have been necessary to sow in the consciences of the Bolivians the truth that JESUS CHRIST IS THE LORD OF BOLIVIA? How much money would it have cost, in events and projects, to establish the Word of God as the foundation of government for Bolivia? We can only imagine it. But today, the Lord Jesus Christ has made both things a reality and the evangelical church has the historical responsibility to deepen them and establish them for the reconstruction of our country.
–Written by a member of the Bright Hope Bolivia team. Name withheld for security reasons.