Lenten fast will unite Bolivians, Oklahomans


Picture 1,000 Methodists gathered in one place to pray, fast, and worship for 40 hours during Lent.

Now picture yourself among them.

During March 19-25, the Holy Spirit and an Internet link can connect you in Oklahoma with Methodists in Bolivia for a virtual, sacred experience.

That week, the Bolivia/Oklahoma Methodist Ayllu (Community) will hold its 2nd Annual Lenten 40-Hour Fast. Programming will enable you to participate online in a bi-continent worship experience, grow spiritually, learn more about members of our faith family in Bolivia, and raise money for the Bolivian Pastors Endowment Fund (Advance Special 3021291).

Among highlights:

  • A live webcast worship service on Saturday night, March 24, held concurrently in La Paz and Oklahoma City, will feature preaching by Bishop Hayes of Oklahoma and Bishop Rojas of Bolivia.

  • A live webcast worship service on Sunday morning, March 25, conducted concurrently at Stillwater-First UMC and a church in La Paz, will feature shared music, prayers, and sermons.

  • During the 40-hour fast in Bolivia, 1,000 worshippers will march up a mountain to hear a sermon, "The Prayer of Gethsemane to the Andes Mountains," and will go to a lakeshore to hear "A Message from the Sea of Galilee to the Sacred Lake Titicaca." Money the worshippers would have spent on food will be donated to the Bolivian Pastors Endowment.

In solidarity with those worshippers, you are encouraged to fast for 36 or 40 hours during the same week (at a time convenient for you). You may choose to recruit sponsors for your fast and donate funds to the Bolivian Pastors Endowment. All donations will be matched.

  • Devotionals on fasting, written by various Bolivian Methodist pastors, will deepen your spiritual experience. The materials will be sent to all who register to fast.

Bishop Hayes said, "When I agreed to participate in the fast last year with the Bolivian pastors, little did I realize that it would be one of the most meaningful experiences of my ministry. Being in solidarity with brothers and sisters thousands of miles away created a spiritual bond that is hard to explain, even now."

In Bolivia, full-time Methodist deacons and pastors live on $150-$420 monthly, depending on education and seniority, reported David Stephenson of Tulsa. He is Oklahoma Volunteers In Mission liaison for the Oklahoma-Bolivia Partnership. Rev. Stephenson said there are 200 churches in Bolivia, and only 40 pastors.

Previous gifts to the endowment resulted in a 10 percent raise for those pastors in 2010—their first pay increase in more than 10 years, according to Stephenson.

To register to fast: www.bokp.org/2012-fast.

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