A Visit to Bolivia and Chile
In a rerun of the visit made to Bolivia and Chile in November 2022, it was the turn of the brethren in Chile on this occasion in 2023 to celebrate a baptism, while the brethren in La Paz, Bolivia continue in the one faith waiting our Lord’s return.
The theme of the two visits – apart from the baptism – was our heritage of faith and where it began. It is very easy to pass our days without a direct sense of connection to the events of the Bible, and for isolated ecclesias and brethren in places like Bolivia and Chile the challenge can be greater. We reminded ourselves that our heritage of faith began when Abraham believed God and left his house. We are here today because Abraham believed God, we become heirs of his promise when we are baptised, and we are participate in an unbroken line of events and faith. In both small and great ways the continuity of the story of this world is with us every day and we are reminded that we are very much a part of that unfolding story in which Abraham, David, Jesus, and the apostles take part. When we write the month of August we are reminded of the great Cesar Augustus who decreed a census and helped establish a world peace that allowed the Gospel to flourish. When we write 2023 we give witness to the Lord´s birth. When we strum a guitar it strikes a chord right back to the days of Daniel and the Kitara of Babylon and the New Testament times. We see the influence of Cyrus the Great and Xenophon’s epic “The Education of Cyrus” in political thinking right down to the modern world. We share bread and wine as has been done continuously for 2000 years and we have been invited to witness the testimony of the Jewish people who remain central to the continuity. Many of the inflated issues of today are put into their true perspective when our sense of heritage in God’s plan is alive and well.
So, when 8 brethren meet in a rented room in La Paz in the centre of South America in 2023 the link is real. Some have a natural heritage through the indigenous people and thus via the great migrations from Asia to America are a part of the story that began after Noah. Others have a heritage back to Spain, a place that the Apostle Paul wished to visit and which today bears witness to the influence of the Roman world of the New Testament in place names like Zaragoza (Caesar Augusta). But their new heritage is with Abraham, through the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, this group – with the support of Brother Shimon Spina who participates from afar – lives the heritage of faith in our Lord.
Further south in Chile, the centre of activity on the visit to that country was a small farmhouse outside the town of Villarrica, near Temuco. On this occasion 6 brothers and sisters, as distant physically and temporally from Abraham as you could possibly imagine, slotted right into the continuity of heritage and brought another sister on board.
Sister Antonella Rossel González was baptised in a small, cold pool on the land of Sister Gloria and her husband Fernando. Antonella has studied a number of years and steadily moved toward this moment. She lives in Santiago, a heaving and burdened metropolis, so the peace and natural beauty of the southern lake district of Chile and the prominent snow-capped mountains provided a fitting metaphor for the new man in Christ in contrast to the old man left behind.
After a special weekend our new sister and the brothers who travelled with her returned to Santiago. The city where she lives is named after a fisherman. Not any fisherman. This was John’s brother, a son of thunder, who was killed by Herod for following his Lord. James the son of Zebedee gives his name to this modern massive city.
Let’s never forget our heritage of faith. It is as real as the seven days of each week. How Abraham would have loved to stand where we do today and see what was triggered when he believed God.