Saturday, July 28, 2007

El Día

The Day.

When I was meeting with the La Paz director of Red Viva I was introduced to worship leaders from various churches throughout the city of La Paz. They were having a meeting to talk about this year's El Día worship event. A group of them began this event about four years ago in La Paz and it was born out of the idea that we talk to God all the time and ask him for help, advice, things, etc...but we don't stop often enough to just praise Him and NOT ask for something...just praise Him because He is God.

And thus El Día was created. Basically for the last few years in La Paz and in a few other cities in Bolivia a group of people get together for one day every year and just praise and worship God for 24 hours straight. Non-stop worship. Different bands/singers will play sets and they will just praise God non-stop for one day. This year's event will be on December 7 and 8 and it is my hope to be back in Bolivia in time to experience the event this year. That is the goal that I am shooting for. What a great welcome that would be to La Paz. "Hi Curt. Welcome. We are so glad that you made it here safely. Now let's go praise God for 24 hours straight." I am also excited because I will have the opportunity to use my marketing skills to help promote this event in the future and I can't wait to be involved in a movement to praise and glorify God across the entire country of Bolivia.

This year they hope to have the day of worship simultaneously in nine cities in Bolivia. Awesome. I can't wait. I think it might just be where I am right now in my walk with Christ but I really have a growing desire in my heart to stop and worship God more and more. I have to tell you that just singing 2-3 songs on Sunday at church doesn't satisfy my soul anymore.

I need more.

There is also a ministry in Kansas City called the International House of Prayer. They have a prayer room on their campus and they have had non-stop praise and worship for the last seven years. Wow. Two hour worship sets back to back to back every week. All the time. Non-stop. That is what I am talking about. They have a live video feed of their prayer room on their website that I subscribe to. So I can log on anytime to watch live worship. At 2 p.m. on Saturday or 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. They never stop.

It's amazing to see people here in the U.S. and people in Bolivia going after the same God with the same heart and spirit. We all seem to be heading in the same direction. Constantly worshipping God. Day and Night. Night and Day. I think the hope is to be in a constant state of praise, whatever you are doing. I know we all aren't going to sit in prayer rooms all the time because we are way too busy for that but I do think we can all strive to have lives that reflect a constant state of praise. It's about praising God on Sunday but it's also about praising God while you are washing clothes and cleaning the dishes.

It's that "loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength" thing. I know I haven't fully grasped that concept yet but I feel like God is moving me in that direction. My relationship with my Heavenly Father HAS to be my source. My home base. If I lose my personal connection with God then my soul will dry up and nothing will matter.

And I believe that any act of service in the name of Christ is just a natural reaction of a heart that is overflowing with love for God.

We just can't help it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What happens in Bolivia…(Part 3)

Two highlights from the Bolivia trip…and one of these experiences was without a doubt the most “out of my comfort zone” that I have ever been.

Throughout our time in Cochabamba, several folks from Niños con Valor, a foundation we were visiting, took us around to various ministries around town to “give us a real sense of what life is like for kids living on the streets there.”

There are several experiences that I just have to share. And these are the kind of experiences that make me wish that the countdown on my website was counting down a little bit faster.

The first was a visit that we made to a home called Solomon Klein. We were told that this was a transitional home and the first home that many kids come to directly from the streets. We were also told that many people just walk up to door and leave their babies/kids because they either don’t want them or they just can’t take care of them.

We visited three different areas in this home and I think each area broke my heart in a different way. The first area was the toddler room and there were like twenty toddlers crawling around on the floor like ants and of course all of us immediately sat on the floor to play with them. What was so crazy was how starved they were for positive touch. I held this little girl’s hand for thirty seconds and when I let go she began to cry. Broke my heart. I wish I could describe the look in their eyes. It was a moment that really tugged on my heartstrings. They started crawling after us when we left.

The next area was the newborn area where there were three workers feeding thirty newborn babies. They had the babies’ bottles propped up so that the babies did not get used to being held while they were being fed. There are just not enough workers to go around.

And finally we visited the older boys and girls who were playing outside and they just mobbed us. They all wanted to play and they all wanted us to pick them up. I got to brush up on my Spanish playground lingo that’s for sure. It’s funny how kids are just kids whether they are in Georgia or in Bolivia. They all just want unconditional love and they all just want you to push them in a swing.

And as if that whole experience wasn’t enough we decided to spend about two hours one evening down at the Cochabamba bus terminal. Not one of the main tourist attractions of the city I might add. This is the “out of my comfort zone” moment. Doug, a guy from Holy Cross who joined us on the trip, myself and two folks from Niños con Valor hopped a cab one night and headed down to the bus terminal. The hope was that I could get a chance to get a real picture of life for kids on the streets there. Boy did I. This was ministry on an up close and personal level.

The people from NcV have been going down to the bus terminal for some time now to try and build some relationships with some of the girls who live on the street there. One of the ministries that they are trying to start is an outreach ministry to these girls. They have a vision to open a home for these girls that will be a safe alternative to the streets. We found about 7-8 girls that night outside the terminal and we spent time with them for a few hours. It was unbelievable. One of the big addictions for street kids in Bolivia is an addition to sniffing glue. Very strong glue...not like your normal Elmer's kind of glue. It not only helps to keep them warm but it also numbs their hunger pains.

I have never been that up close and personal to something like this. I would be having conversations with these girls while they were holding their bottles of glue to their noses. I could just see in their eyes that they were in some other world, “Volando” (Flying) as they would call it. I saw young boys on the streets messed up on glue as well. I was even getting a little messed up from the glue myself after about two hours. I was getting some strong second hand whiffs.

I share these experiences to basically say two things – if you have never been out of your comfort zone like this I wish wish wish every single one of you could have the opportunity to do so. And if you get the chance...just go. Your view of the world will be expanded like you can’t even believe.

I also share it because I came to the realization while we were down at the terminal that “If Jesus were walking the streets of Cochabamba right now, I think He would be at the Cochabamba bus terminal.” It was about sitting with these kids for two hours and just showing them unconditional love. It was about loving them and not expecting anything in return. I am told that street ministry is a tough ministry though. And just when you think you are building some good relationships and making progress it all falls a part.

But I honestly believe that you just start by showing up. By just consistently being on the scene. How can we expect any relationship to be built and grow without this? I challenge you to look at your own city, your own neighborhood and ask yourself, “If Jesus were walking these streets right now, where would He be?”

And then just go there.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What happens in Bolivia...(Part 2)

Now comes the post where I show you some photos.

I have uploaded some photos from my recent placement trip to Bolivia to my online photo galleries. Check them out HERE.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

What happens in Bolivia doesn’t stay in Bolivia (Part 1)

My recent trip to Bolivia was such an experience that it will take several posts to cover the entire trip. But I thought I would start with a post about the big issue – what city in Bolivia is God calling me to and what ministry is He calling me to partner with. So here goes...

You know, sometimes I just try to put God in a box.

I tried it on this recent placement trip to Bolivia and I found out once again that God’s plans are not always my plans. I was reminded that He sees a much bigger picture than I could ever see. He knows what’s best for me better than I could ever know what’s best for me and, during this trip, He opened my eyes to a vision that I could have never possibly dreamed of.

It is not a question of what city has the most need. They all have need. There is no shortage of opportunities. Especially with high-risk kids. It became very clear to me during the trip that God would call me to the city where I would have the best chance to grow closer to Him spiritually and also to the city where I could most effectively serve His kingdom.

Ever since my first mission trip to Bolivia last summer I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to live in Cochabamba and most likely volunteer for a foundation there called Ninos con Valor (Children with Value). An amazing foundation with a vision that I truly admire and support. And even after visiting with them during my placement trip I felt a great peace about working alongside them. Great people. They gave us some truly wonderful experiences and we had the privilege of getting some “up close and personal” looks at various ministries. I was way out of my comfort zone. And it was great.

I had SUCH a peace about Cochabamba that we tried really hard to skip our final city, La Paz, altogether. We had spent one day in La Paz the previous summer and we all suffered from altitude sickness. (La Paz is around 12,000 feet) It’s funny because for a good amount of the time leading up to this placement trip I actually told people “I hope God does not call me to La Paz. I hate La Paz. I definitely don’t want to be there.”

I think you see where this is going.

So, needless to say, we reluctantly went to La Paz. The Bishop wanted me to check out a Saturday morning outreach ministry to kids at one of the churches there (Cristo Redentor). There are two Anglican churches in La Paz and we were going to also attend Sunday services at one of the churches.

From the moment that we began to descend the 2,000 ft from the airport to the city I began to sense something special about this city – maybe it was the fact that I was NOT suffering from altitude sickness this time or maybe just maybe God was sending a lightning bolt my way. We checked out the ministry to kids on Saturday morning at the church and it was great. I also decided to play a game of soccer with the kids and I almost passed out. (I somehow forgot that I was at 12,000 ft)

God continued to work on my heart.

Also, the fact that there are currently no long-term missionaries from SAMS (My sending agency) in La Paz right now began to work on me as well. It seems a large number of missionaries choose Cochabamba and Santa Cruz over La Paz because the climates are more pleasant in those cities.

When we attended church on Sunday at the second Anglican Church (Cristo Salvador) I absolutely knew that I needed to be in La Paz. The service was amazing and the worship music lasted for an hour. Anyone who knows my tendency to always want to worship for “20 more minutes” knows that this extended praise and worship in La Paz was right up my alley.

To top it all off I met with the La Paz director for an international network called Viva. In Latin America and the Caribbean the network is known as Red Viva. Check out the international Viva site at or if you can read Spanish check out the Red Viva site at Basically, this is a Christian network of individuals and churches who have a heart for children in high-risk situations. The goal of the network in each city is to help the various Christian groups that support high-risk children in the city better collaborate by sharing info, resources, best practices and training and by helping the groups to create a combined powerful voice to the government.

So this Red Viva network is “just getting off the ground” in La Paz. They are currently mapping the city to identify the various Christian organizations working with high-risk kids and then after that the work to bring the groups together gains momentum. They were very excited about the possibility of me bringing my marketing/promotion skills to the table. Part of the deal is to launch a public awareness campaign in La Paz about the situation of high-risk kids there. Amazing.

This project is what I calling a “body of Christ” project. Denominations are not a factor. I look at it as God calling me to work to unify the body of Christ in La Paz, Bolivia. Of course I will be working with the Anglican churches there and enjoying plenty of hands-on volunteering with children and street kids.

As I am sure you can tell I am very excited to get back to La Paz and join this team. This lighting bolt from God was just a reminder that sometimes we have our little visions all figured out and then God says “How about THIS vision?” and we are like Joey from Blossom “Whoa.” Through this opportunity with Red Viva, God has taken my little vision and made it bigger than I could have ever imagined. And I think that was the point.

He knew I was against La Paz and He opened my eyes to the city so He could get maximum glory. I love that. And I love Him FOR that. It is such a stronger testimony due to the fact that I did NOT want to go to La Paz. It is totally a God thing.

There is so much more to share from the trip…more later.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'm back!

Hello one and all,

Just wanted to let you know that I made it back safely to Atlanta this afternoon. What a great trip! God continues to amaze me. Everytime I think I have things figured out He totally blows my mind with something bigger than I could have ever imagined.

I hope everyone is doing well. Just give me a few days to process/sort photos and I will post a blog about my trip and about where I feel God calling me to serve in Bolivia.

To be continued...