Bolivia March 2020 Update

This is the shortest ENW tour report to date. Our trip was providentially cut short because of the COVID-19 virus. Thanks to all of you who prayed as God certainly answered in amazing ways.

I left the U.S.A. for Bolivia and Uruguay on Thursday, March 12th and was joined by my travel/teaching companion, Dan Hicks, on Sunday, March 15th. Dan is a good friend and serves on the ENW board. It was a joy to have him with me. Here is a personal note from Dan:

The success of ENW rests in the Biblical pattern modeled by Paul with Timothy and with the idea that church growth should focus on equipping godly men to further train other godly men. Our time in Bolivia was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, but even with limited time, the fruit of ENW’s work was so evident. To be with men who desire to learn more about teaching God’s Word and to know that your work will be multiplied exponentially is a true joy. I pray that God will continue to use ENW to impact the lives of churches throughout the world.

The tour began with a brief couples conference Friday and Saturday evenings. It was encouraging to see the couples (as well as some singles) attend both sessions. Some very basic yet helpful principles of Biblical Communication and Conflict Resolution were presented and well-received by all which was a wonderful start to our 2020 Bolivia ministry.

Sunday brought local church opportunities which are always a highlight to serve with and among national believers. It was “Father’s Day” so the services and preaching were geared toward that emphasis. Dan preached in one church while I preached in another.

The beginning of our 4th annual pastor’s conference was Monday. As we began, we were aware of “what was happening” in Bolivia, as well as the United States. As we kept our eyes on the news, as Kevin White (our host) continued to monitor his resources and proceeded to conduct the training conference, we learned early in the week that Dan and I needed to “get back home” as quickly as we could.

So, as we prepared and trained (we were able to complete three days of training), we, along with Kevin, began to check on exit options. My travel agent, Jay O. at Golden Rule Travel, was a blessing as he worked diligently for us to find flights/schedules that were quickly vanishing. In God’s good providence, Jay found us the very last two seats on a Thursday morning flight out of Bolivia. We were humbled and grateful for God’s wonderful provision and His timing was perfect.

We both left Thursday morning and arrived in Miami, FL about 3:00 P.M. We made connections to our respective airports late Thursday night and drove home from there. As I arrived home at about 2:15 A.M., Chris and I were very grateful for God’s timing and provision in it all.

We give glory to God for His watch care over us as His gracious provision was evident in every way getting us out of the country and back home to our families. Both Dan and I are very much aware and grateful to all who were concerned, prayed, and assisted during this exit strategy.

We were saddened that we were unable to finish the conference, but by the grace of God, there will be another time. It was encouraging to see the eagerness of those pastors who attended, listen intently to the biblical instruction, and respond with comments and questions. It was a beneficial three days together for sure.

The portion of the tour that did not work out at all was Uruguay. So much work had gone into this conference. A new ENW unit had been translated into Spanish (which takes scores of hours) by Rosanna, Pastor Gaby’s wife. Pastor Dave Robinette from Wilmington, my teaching companion from last year, had invested much time and money preparing for his second tour with ENW there in Uruguay. And Pastor Jim Bledsoe, who has accompanied ENW several times to several countries, also was invested with time and finances in preparation. My heartfelt gratitude to these two men for their willingness, preparation and personal time given to help. Dave and Jim, Thank You and by the grace of God, we will do it again!

I was recently reading in my quiet time from A Gospel Primer (which I would heartedly recommend) by Milton Vincent. I hope the following excerpt from that book will encourage your heart in these troubled times.

More than anything else I could ever do; the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and more; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

Thank you again for your prayers, concerns, and kind words along the way. By the grace of God, we will press on through this hour of testing. God will be glorified and His people will be sanctified.

We continue to humbly appeal for personal support as well as travel expenses. ENW is a faith-based ministry and is tax-exempt for any who desire to invest in equipping the next generation of shepherds.

Our website provides information for giving, or you can send a check to the following address and mark it ENW “monthly support” or ENW “travel expenses”. Thank you!