“I still can’t believe that there is an Adventist church in Chan Pine Ridge!”

His comment caught me by surprise. I had met him for the first time at the church in Chan Pine Ridge that very morning, and now we were enjoying a fellowship meal at the MOVE campus.

“I used to colporteur in Chan Pine Ridge and the people were really closed-minded and even downright rude!” the brother continued. “In fact, there was a group that tried to hold evangelistic meetings there, but they got sabotaged. Someone even rubbed Pica Pica on the upholstery of their vehicles!”

“Wow, what’s Pica Pica? Sounds like something itchy!”

“Yes, it’s a poisonous plant with hairy pods and it gives a terrible rash! Besides that they would disrupt the meetings and even cut out the lights. The heckling got so bad they ended up suspending the meetings! So how have people been treating you?”

“Quite well actually! They haven’t chased us out of town yet! We’ve experienced some prejudice from a few families in they way of suspicious glances and comments like “we have our church” when we try to visit them. We’ve also been insulted by a couple of drunks, but many of the people are actually quite receptive!” I replied.

The work in Chan Pine Ridge began to gain a foothold a few years ago when Miguel and Vilma Chavez, former volunteers at MOVE, felt a burden to take up the work in that community and they began regular house-to-house visitation, community service projects and small group meetings.  An evangelistic series resulted in 14 baptisms and the group acquired land and began building a church. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, most of the new members fell away. When the Chavez family received a call to Guatemala, Yaneth Robles and Ray and Phoebe Sikidge continued the visitation in Chan Pine Ridge and advanced the church construction. Ray and Phoebe were called to the Philippines about the time Lyli and I arrived to MOVE.

About this same time, Yaneth was praying fervently that God would send reinforcements: permanent Adventist members from the local vicinity to help raise up the church. God has been answering that prayer in extraordinary fashion. Four families simultaneously began to attend regularly. First there is the Bochub family: Sister Eva Bochub and her husband Agusto and their three children, Abdi, Isis and Uziel have been a tremendous blessing to our group. Brother Bochub has given the sound system, electric fans, and made a beautiful pulpit. They also regularly pick up those who need rides and bring them to church. Sister Eva is full of energy and hospitality and is active in visiting the sick and ministering to the needs of others. She teaches our primary Sabbath school class. The Bochub family has an extraordinary testimony that I will share in a future update.

The Tosh family also joined our group. Grandpa Margarito or his son Alberto drive the red work truck, and the rest of the family packs together in the cab and on wooden benches in the back. Margarito told his testimony how God saved him as a young man from falling into a life of drug trafficking. He later accepted the Adventist message after listening to a complete evangelistic series and Fatima bring a number of grandchildren, and Alberto and Lucy come with their two children, Donovan and Keila and some other cousins as well. Alberto grew up Adventist, but when his first wife died, he fell into drinking. At the bar that he frequented, he met Lucy, who worked there as a waitress. When they got married, Alberto decided it was time to quit drinking and began to study the Bible with his wife and two stepchildren. Last November they became the first to enter our church baptistery!

The Cawich family also joined about the same time. Brother Daniel is an electrician and taxi driver, and his wife Mirtha is a teacher at the Adventist elementary school in Orange Walk. Brother Daniel has already brought in one of his mission contacts, the Cámara family, and they have begun to attend regularly as well. They are not Adventists yet, but Claudia Cámara is convicted on the Sabbath and has already made a stand with her employer and received Saturdays off. She has not missed a Sabbath since she started coming about two months ago. Her husband, Adrian Cámara scoots into church on a skateboard and lifts himself up onto a chair near the front. He was born without legs and makes and sells his own prosthetics. They bring their children Claudia, 13 and Anthony 15. Anthony loves learning the hymns. Brother Daniel asked us to accompany them giving Bible studies in the Cámara home, but unfortunately we have only been able to do one study so far. Please pray for Mr. Adrian, as he has some real personal struggles that he is dealing with, including alcohol.

Brother Wilber Valencia does imports and exports for the Mennonite community. He wants start doing mission work, but something is holding him back. Please keep him in special prayer, as he seems to be in a great internal struggle. His wife Ana has been active working with the youth and Ambassador’s club, which is similar to pathfinders but less formal and more mission-work oriented.

Wilber’s sister-in-law, Alvina also began attending our group regularly with her two children, Marina and Isaac. Marina wants to be a missionary and study at MOVE when she is old enough. We told her she can be a missionary right now at home with her own father! Well, a lot of people have been praying for him too, but her father, Luciano, came to church the last two Sabbaths. He spoke with me after the service last week and wants to study the Bible. He also asked if he can be in charge of cutting the grass and keeping up the church yard! The next day I was able to visit him and have our first Bible study. This New Year he quit drinking and says he hasn’t missed it a bit.

“I am so much happier now!” he grinned. “I haven’t fought with my wife since, and there’s a lot more peace in my home. I want to seek God more and get involved in church. I was baptized Adventist when I was a teenager, but it was just out of emotion. Now I want it to be for real.”

God answers prayer! He is doing exciting things in Chan Pine Ridge. I haven’t even told you yet about the mission contacts and Bible studies going on in the village. We need your special prayers as does God’s church all around the world. We feel a great responsibility to help the group start right on the solid foundation. The story of Chan Pine Ridge is still being written, and while the Enemy is trying to get his words in edgewise, God’s side of the narrative is glowing with the power of His double-edged sword!  Pray that we will be faithful instruments, always in the hands of our merciful and mighty Lord.

  1. Attached are photos of the Tosh family baptism.

Kody & Lyli Kostenko

Mission stories: http://www.boliviamission.blogspot.com/ 

“There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.”  {8T 19.3}