A letter from Chenoa Stock serving in Bolivia
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Though we here in Bolivia have now entered the season of the chill of winter mornings and evenings, with its strong rays of sun throughout the day, and have passed our rainy season, no longer having to worry about facing the rains and storms, this Bible passage sits on my heart.
We in UMAVIDA, the Joining Hands network in Bolivia, continue in our restructuring transition, trying to hold true to our mission for environmental justice and walking this justice journey, accompanying our fellow, struggling Bolivians in order to address greater, global issues that affect all of us around the world. There are challenges, there are winds, and there is fear amidst this rebuilding. But each day we try to hear Jesus’ voice—“Peace! Be still!” We stand in faith together, knowing that this storm, too, shall pass, moving toward a brighter and stronger future.
He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:39-41)
I would like to thank each and every one of you for your prayers and thoughts during this time. You have joined us; each of you stands with us here in Bolivia through your prayers, correspondences and financial support.
This mutual support helps communities and people in Oruro like Don Felix, who is in the storm, struggling for clean water and fertile land that has been lost due to mining activity and its contamination. Your support accompanies farmers like Doña Adele, who is searching with her community for peace and reconciliation with land issues, as they work with organic farming techniques and solar tents on the La Paz altiplano (high plain) to achieve food sovereignty—the control over one’s own food production, distribution and consumption. You are walking with us of UMAVIDA as we continue to rebuild our team and mission for environmental justice in light of a recently released presidential decree that prohibits the contesting of nongovernment organizations against the extraction of natural resources. Thank you for your constant faith and standing with us.
This standing together in the midst of the storm is needed more than ever in this time for our ministry through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s World Mission. As the needs of the world have grown, World Mission’s resources have not kept pace. Due to shortfalls in contributions in 2014, we are facing the prospect of having to recall up to 45 mission workers over the next two years. I know many of you support the general mission of the PC(USA) in a variety of ways—participating in short-term mission trips, interacting with communities and institutions around the world in which the church serves, praying for God’s mission, both locally and globally, and supporting these ministries and us, your mission co-workers on the field, through your generous financial contributions. Thank you for your continuous accompaniment of our global ministries and us.
As you will read in the links at the end of this newsletter, unfortunately this mission of mutual accompaniment—focused on evangelism, reconciliation and addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty around the world—has an uncertain future. Either the funding provided by the U.S. church must dramatically increase, or the work we are able to sustain around the world will be significantly reduced and changed over the next few years.
I am sharing with you a letter signed by 22 former General Assembly moderators of the Presbyterian Church asking for fervent prayer and sacrificial giving in order to support the church’s mission workers in their countries of service (http://bit.ly/1cgHkGj). We ask you to read and sign the petition, to share it with others, and to remember this need in your prayers. In particular, I would ask you to share the petition with your church community so they might help us advance our incredible mission legacy.
Please keep us in your prayers and spread the word. In addition to your prayers, though, we need your gifts—small or large, one-time or recurring —if at all possible. If you’re not sure whether your congregation supports World Mission financially, please ask. Many are unaware that a little boost of directed giving would make a big difference. An extra $100 per PC(USA) congregation would cover the shortfall for mission co-worker support in 2016!
Would you be willing to make a contribution today, or commit to an ongoing sustaining gift? Individuals and congregations can support me as a mission co-worker by sending gifts to Presbyterian World Mission, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. On the check’s memo line, write Chenoa Stock E200335. Online gifts can be made at https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E200335/.
I know we stand in this boat together, as the disciples did—with the winds around us, the storm fast approaching, and the fear of the unknown to come. But we must face the storm and its dangers and listen and embrace Jesus’ voice. “Peace! Be still!” Our shared faith foundation, one that serves and works for a better world and for a life-giving mission that we want to continue, must overcome that fear. Please walk with me, the people of UMAVIDA and Bolivia, and my PC(USA) colleagues through the storm, toward the calm, the serenity and the justice we are called to embody as Christians and beings of God’s Creation.
In solidarity and faith,
For more information:
Joining Hands Program: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/joininghands/
Joining Hands Bolivia—UMAVIDA profile: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/hunger/bolivia/
Presbyterian work in Bolivia: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/global/bolivia/
Chenoa Stock profile, funding, past newsletters: www.pcusa.org/chenoa-stock
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 53
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