Lawton District promises to build Bolivian church
By Holly McCray
The heart language of music overcame difficulties communicating by spoken word when Oklahomans and Bolivians celebrated together at a recent Lawton District mission program.
The district’s churches and Methodists of Cobija, Bolivia, have formed a ministry partnership. Constructing a church in the isolated Bolivian city of about 35,000 people, surrounded by rainforest, is top priority. Projected cost is about $42,500. Volunteers In Mission (VIM) teams are being recruited.
Superintendent Chuck Horton said the mission partnership also will be highlighted during the district’s Re-Ignite Workshop on Jan. 29.
On Oct. 30, Duncan-First UMC hosted a district banquet to generate awareness and support. Guests from Bolivia included pastors, musicians who performed songs by indigenous people of the Amazon, and a young engineer.
Pastor Ken Baden of Wesley Chapel UMC, Lawton, was emcee. He and his wife will lead a VIM team to Cobija in June. District mission coordinator, he was inspired by previous mission service in Bolivia.
Susan Waite of Oklahoma City has traveled to Bolivia 11 times on VIM missions. She spoke about the friendships that grow when missioners return.
Juan Carlos Cordero of Bolivia said the Methodist churches there look to better times ahead. "We are already living them, because we have accepted Christ."
Although without a building in which to worship, the Cobija congregation has planted several new churches.
Modesto Mamani, national secretary of Life & Mission for the Evangelical Methodist Church of Bolivia, will lead the Oklahoma Conference in a 40-hour fast during Lent 2012.
A total of $25,000 in pledges and about $1,500 cash was secured that night for the building project.
Children of Duncan-First donated coins for "Crayons 4 Kids," another prong of the partnership. Also that evening, a couple provided money to buy a motorcycle for a Bolivian pastor who serves a large circuit.
The partnership formally was approved Aug. 25 by the Lawton District Council. David Stephenson of Tulsa is the VIM liaison for the Oklahoma/Bolivia partnership. www.okbp.org