Idolatry and Witchcraft in the Streets of Bolivia Today

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A thin fog hovered over our neighborhood, but it wasn’t the weather.  This fog carried a dense aroma of liquid soaked wood that causes it to smolder without being consumed by the fire, so that a Yatiri (an Aymara witch) can offer sacrifices and blessings to Ekeko, the little god of abundance.  Today, and every 24th of January, is the day of Alacitas.  It is a day where the Yatiris and Ch’mankanis (head witches that “control the darkness”) set up shop in the parks and plazas in order to “bless” the people.

The Bolivians turn out in thousands buying “fake” money, tiny wooden cars, tiny wooden houses, and other trinkets to offer as sacrifices.  Booths selling these trifles and food line the sidewalks and the streets.  In my neighborhood there was so great a number of booths that there wasn’t enough room for them all, so the main thoroughfare was closed to accommodate the masses.

After buying an object or several objects, the purchaser stands in line waiting for the Yatiri or Ch’mankani to offer their blessing.  The Yatiri takes the object and waves it through the smoke of the smoldering wood, offering their prayer, making a chant, and sometimes touching the objects with a flower dipped in various oils.  He or she may also ring a bell or even burn the object until it is consumed and disappears in the smoke.

Objects for sale to be "blessed"

Objects for sale to be “blessed”

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And what is the purpose of all of this?  The idea is that if a witch blesses your tiny purchased trinket, you will receive this object in the near future.

In the picture below, a family puts their hands into the smoke after they were washed in grain alcohol, while the Yatiri rings his bell, so that they will have success in their endeavors.

A Yatiri "blesses" a family on the Day of Alacitas

A Yatiri “blesses” a family on the Day of Alacitas

But I have a greater promise from God, the Creator, that I am like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that I do, I prosper! (From Psalm 1).  I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places and I am seated in Christ, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.  (From Eph. 1 & 2).  I am blessed in the city and I am blessed in the country, my children are blessed, my basket is blessed, I am blessed coming in and going out. (Duet. 28).  And I am adopted by God the father, I am blessed to be called a child of God (Eph 1 and John 1).  I have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light (Col 1).  And I am loved by Christ and nothing can separate me from it; not death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in creation. (Rom. 8)  I am saved and forgiven from sin and I can say He is my God and I am his people!

There must have been more than fifty Yatiris in my small neighborhood and I am sure that 10,000 people passed through their smoke.  I went into the city today as well, and there on nearly every corner was an individual passing out a small amount of fake money while pointing to a Yatiri and his fire not far away.

Usually jammed with traffic the street closed for the Day of Alacitas

Usually jammed with traffic the street closed for the Day of Alacitas

Sometimes I am asked how much Christianity is present in Bolivia.  The government claims there is a strong Catholic presence, and yet the President is a high priest serving mother earth, making stricter laws that disfavor Christianity, and the streets flow with the people looking for a blessing from an idol.  And when I see it, when I walk through it, my heart breaks for them.  How much Christianity is present in Bolivia?  Not near enough!

A last word:  Today I thought of words of Reinhard Bonnke when he said, “In other religions, people spread the table for their gods, but in Christianity, our God spreads the table for us.  In other religions, people search for their god, but in Christianity, our God searches for us.” (Paraphrased).

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Our Church of Children

 

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Pastors of Remenante de Israel

Pastors of Remenante de Israel

Pastora Doris and Pastor Gustavo planted a church 13 years ago in the heart of the poorest area of El Alto, Bolivia.  But this is no ordinary church.  This church is aimed at bringing the message of salvation in Christ to the next generation.  This church, called Remenante de Israel (The Remnant of Israel), is for poor children from birth until 15 or 16 years of age.  Most of their parents are not Christian, some don’t even know who Jesus is, but the children are being schooled in the Bible, prayer, miracles, worship and hearing the voice of God.

Mary Luz

Mary Luz

I remember Mary Luz when she was 5 years old taking up offerings and singing to the Lord in front of the church.  Mary Luz is now 13.

Mary Elena, Sonja and Florinda in back with Jessica in front

Mary Elena, Sonja and Florinda in back with Jessica in front

Jessica, now 10 years old, has been coming to this church since she was 1.  Mary Elena and  Sonja have grown up in the church, coming since they were very little.  Mary Elena is now 13 and Sonja is 15 years old.  And Florinda, who wants to be a doctor, is also 15 and soon she will be helping to teach the younger ones.

 

Rhonda and I have been ministering at Remenante since our first trip to Bolivia in 2008, when our friend and missionary Steve Reed brought us.  And Pastor Doris and Gustavo are best friends and prayer partners.  To us, they are heroes of the faith.  They minister each and every Sunday, and they rent the building and pay for things to help these children almost completely from their own pocket.  They have had to change buildings several times, always renting a place in the same neighborhood.  Right now they are in a small storefront, and they are happy to have it, but it doesn’t even have a bathroom.

The kids are getting ready to start school.  Here in Bolivia it starts in February.  Year after year they scrape by with barely enough materials, and we just don’t want to see that happen anymore.  They need pencils and paper, pens, color pencils or crayons, rulers or a geometry kit, a notebook and erasers.  I hope to be able to get the three oldest girls a backpack.  This is where I need your help.  We currently have 30 children.  Sometimes these children don’t even have enough to eat three meals in a day.  They need your help.

The minimum materials we want to buy will cost $10.  That’s it!  TEN American Dollars!  The backpacks will cost about $25 each, and we need 3.  You can donate that money right here!  Go to the donate button.  These kids frankly need a miracle to make it.  It is so easy for them to look around and lose hope.  Please help, donate some hope.  And please pray for them.  Florinda wants to go to medical school; this will be a miracle.  Rhonda and I, and Pastor Gustavo and Doris have already begun praying, asking God for a plan for her.  She has seven brothers and no money to even get to university, even though it doesn’t cost much here.  Pray for her, Mary Luz, Sonja, Jessica and the others.  And please pray for these heroes that spend all they have to keep this church going, Pastor Gustavo and Doris.

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Fasting: Sharpening the Edge for 2015

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We have determined to set aside 21 days to fast before the Lord. If Jesus fasted to complete/accomplish/fulfill God’s calling on His life while on earth, shouldn’t we fast for these same reasons? Fasting is a time to draw closer to God by denying our flesh and feeding our spirits.

This 2015, we are asking for God to sharpen our the edge of our spirits; “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

“Fasting is a time to recover our edge, preparing the way for us to gain more strength and effectiveness through the power of the Holy Spirit rather than through the power of our own limited strength.” (Franklin, pp xiii-translated by Rhonda.

We are seeking God’s direction for our lives and the Ministry of Lovely Feet in 2015. We desire to be more in tune with His will and His voice. We are asking Him to clarify, confirm and articulate plans for 2015. We are also asking for strength and health. In the 50 days that we have been here, I (Rhonda) had a severe sinus infection; Ron has had his back go out and had a bad case of flu. We need strength, health and the favor of God and man to accomplish God’s calling on our lives here in Bolivia. We are asking for clearer revelation and discernment as we study God’s word. What are you seeking God for in 2015?

We are inviting you to join us in this 21-day journey through the dry desert of our flesh to experience the living waters of Christ’s spirit that dwells in us. The bread of life satisfies our hunger; the living waters satisfy our thirst.

The idea of the “Daniel Fast” comes from 2 incidents in the life of Daniel. The first in Daniel chapter 1 when Daniel and his friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of Fiery Furnace fame) asked that they be permitted to eat only vegetables and drink only water so as not to defile themselves with the food of Babylon. At the end of 10 days they were healthier and heavier than those who ate all the choice food of the King. This is where the some of the substance of the “Daniel Fast” comes from.

The other incident is from Daniel chapter 10 when Daniel “ate no delicacies, no meat or wine” (Daniel 10:2) for three weeks. Daniel made this time of fasting in solidarity with his Hebrew brothers and sisters who where suffering. After this fast, Daniel received his most powerful vision from the Lord about conflict in heaven and on earth in the Last Days.

The Daniel Fast is not a law and it does not make us more holy than other people who choose not to fast. What it does is fills our body with good things made by God that are sufficient to nourish and sustain us. Those things most loved by our flesh (pop, fat, processed food, meat, CHEESE…) are abstained from and as our flesh is denied, our spirit is strengthened.   When we walk in the Spirit our spirit is stronger and our flesh is weakened.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Gal 5:16-17

We have separated our petitions to the Lord into four categories:

1. God Speaks to us:

  • Discernment
  • Revelation/Illumination of His Word
  • Direction
  • Wisdom

2. Fulfilling Plans

  • When should Bible Institute classes start?
  • Who should be part of the Ministerial Association?
  • How should the Association be structured?
  • How/What curriculum should be compiled?
  • Spend 3 days a week in the Altiplano
  • Building a church building in Calacachi
    • IF we should
    • How much does LFM do/give to project?
    • When?

3. Receiving Tools

  • Need a car or 4×4 (we are VERY close to getting a car)
  • Renting a building for Institute/church in Patacamaya
  • Funds
    • Institute (100k to buy building, $300est a month to rent
    • 4×4 – Mitsubishi Montero (11k+)
    • General Materials

4. Personal

  • Spanish mastery
  • When do we start learning Aymara
  • Health
  • Friendships


PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU WILL BE PARTICIPATING WITH US IN THIS FAST!
Email us at Ron@lovelyfeet.org or Rhonda@lovelyfeet.org or you can reply to this post. We want to pray for you as you will be praying for us.For contemplation and mediation during this time I (Rhonda) am reading “The Fasting Edge” by Jentzen Franklin and “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast” by Kristen Feola.

Below are suggestions of foods to eat and foods to avoid. In addition to the dietary choices for this time, Ron and I will be fasting television in all forms (programs, movies, videos, etc).

TOMORROW, January 2nd, WE BEGIN!

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Foods to Eat

Fruits: fresh, frozen, dried, juiced

Vegetables: fresh, frozen, dried, juiced

Whole grains: amaranth, barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, whole wheat Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, nut butters.

Unleavened bread: whole grain breads made without yeast, sugars, or preservatives Legumes (canned or dried): black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, split peas

Quality oils: canola, coconut, flaxseed, grapeseed, olive, peanut, sesame

Beverages: distilled water, filtered water, spring water – we are adding Hot Coca Tea to this list due to altitude issues

Other: herbs, spices, salt, pepper, seasonings, soy products, tofu
Foods to Avoid

Meat: beef, buffalo, llama, fish, lamb, pork, poultry

Dairy products: butter, cheese, cream, eggs, milk

Sweeteners: agave nectar, artificial sweeteners, cane juice, honey, molasses, raw sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, syrups, stevia

Leavened bread and yeast: any bread with yeast, baked goods, Ezekiel bread (contains yeast and honey)

Refined and processed food products: artificial flavorings, chemicals, food additives, preservatives, white flour, white rice

Deep-fried foods: corn chips, French fries, potato chips

Solid fats: lard, margarine, shortening

Beverages: alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, coffee, energy drinks, green tea, herbal

For some excellent recipes we recommend: “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast” by Kristen Feola
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