Before I left Debby's home this evening, she told me: “Before you came to Bolivia, I told myself, ‘fighting abortion will be my last priority. But after these couple days together, I told God that ending abortion will be my number one priority.’”
Debby has been fighting for life in Bolivia, but had gotten discouraged over the years as people made excuses and were afraid to stand for life openly. But something changed this week. Bolivia. One out of every seven Bolivians is killed before birth. Although 80% of Bolivians consider themselves Christians, the church is silent because they fear loosing their government license. The young people fear their university professors giving them bad grades. Others make excuses and are apathetic. With this backdrop, Melanie Salazar and I arrived in Bolivia on Thursday morning after overnight flights from Colombia (I'll tell you about our Colombia trip in another email!). For our workshop on Friday and Saturday on abortion, chastity, fertility awareness and taking action, only a few people showed up. I was reminded of Gideon and how God asked him to send people away because he only wanted a few brave people to show his glory.
On Saturday afternoon I was given the opportunity to speak to a youth group. Beforehand I prayed about what to share and I was deeply impressed that there was a spirit of fear amongst the believers in Cochabamba. I felt that I needed to share the story of Esther who was afraid, but said yes to be a voice for her people who were appointed to death. I also shared my story of saying yes to God, even though I was scared and it could cost me a good financial career, political ambitions. And I challenged them to not be afraid, like God told Jeremiah, “Do not say I am only a youth. Do not be afraid of people’s faces, because I will be with you.”
Melanie and I just boarded our first of several overnight flights to the US. Bolivia wasn’t what we’d expected, but God moved and I believe he used our few days here to give courage to the hearts of brave Bolivians He is calling to launch a strong student pro-life movement and awaken his people the Church.
The students seemed to be deeply touched and stayed for an hour afterwards to brainstorm how they can start pro-life clubs in their schools and at their universities to help girls in
pregnancy crisis choose life and open the eyes of their classmates to the human rights crisis of abortion.
Then we hopped in a taxi and headed to a Baptist church to speak. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d share as these people were mainly in their mid 20s and older - mostly men. “I will give you the words to speak,” came to mind. When I got up to share, I spoke about sexual chastity and how God can forgive us from our sin, if we just ask. Then I asked everyone to turn to the book of Esther. Esther said yes to God to speak up for the lives of her people even though it could have cost her life. “What is abortion?” I asked. “Killing a person,” they responded. “So what will happen to you if you speak up against abortion to save the lives of the preborn? Will you loose your life? Maybe you’ll loose your job. Maybe you’ll get a bad grade in a university class. Maybe you’ll loose friends. Maybe nothing will happen!”
“Why do girls get pregnant?” I asked. “Because of they were raped, are young, or don’t what the baby.” the men responded. “Why does a girl who is young get an abortion? She’s afraid. Her hormones are raging. She’s confused. She is afraid of what her parents will think, what her church will think, her friends. Of her future.”
“Some people say you shouldn’t say anything because you don’t have a uterus.” I continued addressing the men in the room. “But you were made to be protectors and providers. A girl who is pregnant needs you to not say, ‘You’re pregnant? Oh, I’m sorry. Take care of it.’ They need you to say, ‘I’ll help you. I’ll talk to your parents for you. I’ll talk to your pastor. I’ll help you pay the medical bills. I’ll find you a place to live. I’ll find a loving family to adopt your child.’”
“I think the sexual addiction is also tied to this - porn and masturbation. The good news in Christ is that you can be free! You can help other men to not use people, but instead you can be a warrior for life!”
“I watched last night the movie of how Cochabambians fought for water. Who was a part of this?” A couple men raised their hands. “You are fighters. This is the human rights battle of our time - of your time. Will you fight to save your people - the lives of Cochabambians?”
After the service two men approached us saying that these things aren't talked about in the Bolivian churches. They said they want to bring the message to the churches and train pastors to speak up. Over lunch today I met a Bolivian Evangelical and an Argentinian Catholic seminary professor who had just finished hosting events to reach pastors on this issue. They are excited to work with our friends at Passion Life to awaken the churches.
The boarder guard asked to search my suitcase and was surprised by what he found...It's 2:16 am and I am waiting to board my next flight on my way to the US from Bolivia. I just went through boarder control and the guard asked to search my bag. When he saw an unopened cardboard box, he asked to see inside. Opened it and there were 50 little fetal models of how old you were at 10 weeks in the womb. (We'd come to Latin America with 200 and given out the other 150 over the course of the trip.) He saw the info cards and asked what the point of them were. Using my translation app, I explained that it was for education to help pregnant girls not get abortions. He nodded, said that he was done searching my bag, and asked if he could keep a baby model and info card. :)
Bolivia wasn’t what we’d expected, but God moved and I believe He used our few days here to give courage to the hearts of brave Bolivians He is calling to launch a strong student pro-life movement and awaken his people the Church.