Quenching A Spiritual Thirst In Bolivia

Countless people in countries everywhere have yet to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Which is why, every day, copies of God’s Word are being placed and distributed throughout the world by members of The Gideons International—in hopes of reaching people with the Gospel.

One of the 195 countries where our members are organized is Bolivia. And since first establishing a presence there in 1959, our members have distributed more than seven million Scriptures throughout the country.

Bolivia is predominantly Catholic, with only about 5% of the population being Protestant. Many people there have turned to pagan religions.

In late April, Gideons and Auxiliary who serve in the Bolivian regions of Cochabamba and Quillacollo were making final preparations for a one-week International Scripture Blitz, during which they hoped to distribute tens of thousands of New Testaments to the people there. A team of six members from the U.S. were flying into Bolivia to work with these brothers and sisters.

Hitting The Ground Running

“The members from Bolivia really took ownership of the blitz,” said John Mannen, one of the blitz team members who also serves at International Headquarters. “They made a considerable investment of their time, money and other resources to help us share God’s Word with the lost.”

As always happens with these blitzes, there were challenges. And as always, God responded to those challenges. Early in the week, a public transportation strike was called. This unforeseen conflict had the potential to seriously disrupt the distribution schedule, so the team began to pray for God to intervene. The strike quickly ended, with very little interruption to the distributions.

Bolivia’s Youth: Hungry For God’s Word

Most of the Scriptures were distributed at schools. The distribution teams were encouraged to see students who were so receptive to receiving copies of God’s Word. “There was a definite hunger for the Word there,” says Mannen. “I didn’t have a single student refuse a copy of God’s Word.”

At one school, the team entered a classroom where the teacher was in the middle of presenting a lesson on evolution. The Gideons entered the room and were allowed to make their distributions. Within minutes, every student in that classroom had a New Testament in their hands. And so did the teacher.

In the rural areas of Quillacollo, it was common to see schools enclosed by protective walls topped with barbwire or shards of broken bottles. They were subtle reminders of some of the safety concerns of a country where nearly half of the world’s cocaine supply is grown. The roads on which the teams had to travel to reach many of these schools were very rough. After long days of distributions at schools and the dirt playgrounds at schools, the Gideons would find themselves covered in dust.

As the teams traveled from school to school, presenting New Testaments to students and teachers, they would see children immediately diving into the Word. After one distribution, they saw the school boys outside playing soccer while running with their New Testaments proudly in hand. Many teachers told the Gideons that they would teach school lessons out of their New Testaments.

By the end of the week, Gideons had visited every single school in the Quillacollo area.

A Carpenter’s Son Comes To Faith In The One Who Was A Jewish Carpenter

At one of the churches, Gideons met a man who personally had a strong place in his heart for The Gideons International. As a boy, he had been playing in his father’s carpentry shop when he came across a small, dusty book lying beneath a table. It turned out to be a New Testament with the Gideon emblem on it. He had no idea where it came from. He dusted it off and began to read it. As he read, he discovered that he needed to be born again.

He went to a religious leader in his community and asked him how to be born again. The man became angry. “Get out and never come back!” he shouted at the boy. However, God had someone who could help him—a friend, who explained the Gospel to him. He accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. He is now the pastor of the church where Gideons spoke on Sunday.

He told the Gideons, “Whatever we can do at this church to support The Gideons International, we will do it. I believe in what you are doing.”

A New Fire And A New Zeal

In addition to schools, Scriptures were also distributed to college students, police, fire and military personnel. Placements were also made at hospitals.

The goal for the blitz was 80,000 Scriptures. However, more than 145,500 copies of God’s Word were actually distributed. When allowed to present the Gospel in group settings, team members counted more than 3,000 people indicating that they had agreed to pray to receive Christ. While it’s only known in heaven how many people truly gave their lives to Christ during this blitz, we pray that all of these people were sincere in their commitments and will seek out Bible-believing churches where they can grow in their faith and service to the Lord.

For the members from Bolivia and the U.S., the event was another opportunity to help carry out the Great Commission. “God has called us to go out and share His Word,” says Mannen. “It’s the most important thing in the world.”

Upon returning back to the U.S., blitz team leader Charles Warren said, “It was a wonderful blitz and many precious lives are being changed for eternity.”

“There is nothing like being obedient to share the truth and seeing people be set free. It will make you free,” he said. “It will give you a new fire and a new zeal, excitement and commitment.”

We thank the pastors and churches who allow us to partner with them to help reach the lost. Of course, we give all glory and praise to the Lord for all the decisions made for Christ during the blitz, as well as for the impact these Scriptures will make in the future.

John 9:4 says, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” All we have to do is look around.

Share in the effort