El Alto is one of the coldest cities in Bolivia. In winter, the temperature can drop down to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. And of all the neighborhoods in El Alto, Alto Lima is one of the coldest, as it reaches the foothills of Mount Huayna Potosí, one of the three snow-capped mountains that surround the city.
In Alto Lima, there is a church called “Iglesia Apostolica a las Naciones La Roca” (Apostolic Church to the Nations, The Rock), which partners with Bright Hope and runs a child development center and local bakery to help fund ministry work. La Roca grows under the leadership of Pamela, Felicia and Emiliana, three courageous female pastors with testimonies of lives powerfully transformed by the love of God, and with the call to bring that love to families in the community.
In Bolivia, of every 100 mothers, 18 have been abandoned or must act as heads of their family. This figure is even higher in El Alto, one of the youngest cities in the country, where 29 women out of every 100 have to support their families alone.
Juanita, a mother of two, is one of them. When her children were little, their father (Juanita’s husband) was abusive and addicted to alcohol. One day, her husband told her that he had grown tired of their relationship and would go live with another woman. When her husband took all his belongings out of the house, Juanita went outside, so her children would not see her crying. There she prayed to God saying, “You are the father of my children, you are my husband, you are my brother.”
With peace in her heart, Juanita knew that God had listened to her, would console her and sustain her family in every situation. One of the most difficult situations she experienced was when Elsy, her teenage daughter, had constant epileptic seizures. They took her to doctors, traditional healers and sorcerers, but nothing improved.
Juanita’s family blamed her for what was happening and Elsy began to make friends who negatively influenced her, to the point that she tried to end her life several times. But God had plans for redemption and hope for this family, and it did not take long for these plans to manifest.
One of Elsy’s classmates attended La Roca Church and invited her to church. Elsy, her mom and her grandfather went to church together, and on that day accepted Christ. Juanita treasured her restored relationship with God and began to intercede for the health of her daughter.
From that day on, the family began to be discipled and the wounds from their past began to heal. Juanita’s children turned away from many of their old ways including self-harm, drinking and invocations inviting forces of evil. The whole family began to experience restoration, freedom and much blessing.
At the beginning of 2011, the church announced the need for volunteers to help out at the integral care center. Juanita volunteered, because she wanted to express her gratitude for all that God was doing with her family, and for two years she prepared the food for the children who came to the center on weekends.
When La Roca received financial support from Bright Hope to found a bakery, she volunteered to lead the work team that produces the cakes and breads at Pan del Cielo (Bread of Heaven Bakery). Since 2017, Juanita has worked full-time as the bakery leader. She trains volunteers and has developed an exclusive recipe that makes the bread produced by Pan del Cielo the favorite of local residents.
Juanita has started to see her prayers answered. Her children now attend and even serve in the church. Elsy is a healthy young woman; she no longer has epileptic seizures, and she has finished her studies as kindergarten teacher and is volunteering with the children just like her mother.