Rhonda and I were up at 6:00 a.m. and soon walking the ½ mile to the Teleferico where we would descend from our mountaintop in El Alto in the little glass box that provides transportation similar to a tram. Fortunately, it was a nice day, the sun was rising and it was warm and the views of the mountains and the city below us were excellent. We arrived at a stop thousands of feet below where we live and met some of our Pastor friends in a place called Obrajes. There we walked across a long bridge and arrived at our destination, a hill that was filled with houses and apartments and small stores, called tiendas, streetside.
The hill is without roads, people ascend staircases to reach their own home, so the neighborhood is closed to outsiders. But in the middle of the neighborhood stood an empty apartment, given to our Pastor friends for the purpose of a new church plant. The location is ideal to reach this entire neighborhood and our friends, Polycarp and Teresa also are the owners of a tiny storefront at the street where they have a small restaurant. This storefront isn’t like those we have in the U.S. The door is more or less a garage door that opens and reveals the restaurant fully open to the street.
Our purpose this day was to pray, to usher in the anointing of God, to dedicate the location, the hill, this neighborhood for God. The Lord gave Rhonda a word from Matthew; “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:14-16) This was its inauguration and God’s light was shining. We prayed from across the street, taking in the view of the whole hill and all the houses on it and then Polycarp opened the garage door and we entered into the little tienda restaurant to pray some more. We raised our voices and our hands and invited the Spirit of God to make this place a light on the hill and we invited in God’s presence.
And then it happened! As we prayed a young man of about 30 years happened by on the sidewalk. The sound of our voices stopped him, froze him there on the sidewalk a mere 8 feet away from us. There he waited and tears began to roll down his cheeks. When we finished our prayer, we all turned to him. Through his tears he told Rhonda that he had an accident. His face and hands were covered with scars from a fire. His wife had left him and taken his child and he had left God whom he had known and taken to drinking to relieve his pain. He smelled heavily of alcohol, but he begged us to pray that God would change his life and take him back. For the next thirty minutes we prayed. He spent several minutes in my arms, resting his head on my chest and then, strangely, he looked in my eyes and said to me that I was a tiger and not afraid of anything.
He fell to his knees, cried, hugged us all and then, he picked up Polycarp’s guitar and began to play beautifully. He is obviously musically talented and he sang and sobbed to God. His name is Eusebio and he is our brother in the Lord. Please pray for him.
We all received this as a confirmation that God wanted to work in this neighborhood. How many times have you had an experience that simply during prayer, someone came and begged for God to change them? I can tell you that it has happened more than once to us here in Bolivia. And each time is a beautiful event. I often like to say that God does the most beautiful things when it is not part of our planning, but it is simply when we are available. He then works his plan.
I know that some of you reading this may think that Eusebio will not continue to follow the Lord, that it was simply an emotional response of someone who had too much to drink, but I must walk by faith and I am asking you to pray and believe with me that we have snatched this soul from the gates of hell. Let’s pray that the grave clothes of that old dead man will be removed and that he will walk as a resurrected man, given new life and that his scars, both physically and emotionally will be healed in the name of Jesus.
One more thing: The morning was not over. Rhonda and I returned to the teleferico where we expected to return to the city for a second meeting with two other Pastors. Only Rhonda and I and one other woman were in our little box that would climb back up the mountain. That woman, Jacquelyn, began to talk with us, but her casual conversation turned to one of seriousness. Her son of five years old named Benjamin was in the hospital here in La Paz. She brought him here because he was diagnosed with cancer. There, flying over the city, through tears we all called on the Lord, on the name of Jesus, to show himself in that hospital room and heal this child. Jacquelyn and Benjamin are not from La Paz, they came from Sucre to get him medical care and this day they were to return home for Christmas until she would bring him back for more treatments in January. We gave her our number and asked her to call us upon their return—but we are praying they will not need to return. I am asking again for your prayers—for Benjamin and Jacquelyn.
OH, one more: The day wasn’t over. After a great meeting with the other Pastors, (although we were more than an hour late, they were understanding), we found ourselves in a cab with a Christian man who told us about his family—all Christians except for one 19 year old son, Marcello. That’s right, we again enjoyed the privilege of prayer together, this time that God would demonstrate his power and show himself strong in the life of Marcello. Amen.
It is unusual for us to meet so many Christians in one day. Often we are confronted with witches, those who bow to Mother earth as animists, and sometimes cult groups, but today we met those in the body of Christ who needed encouragement. What a privilege, what a blessing.
To that I say, Here we are Lord, send us! Let your kingdom come and your will be done. Amen.