Photo Essay – Bolivia

In 2004, Greg and Alex, a father-son team working in Bolivia, came across a man on the road who was holding a little broken radio. He pleaded with them, “Fix it, it’s my life!” So they helped him get the radio repaired. As they did, they noticed it was tuned to a radio station broadcasting in his native language, Quechua.

Greg and Alex had been searching for a way to share the gospel with the people of isolated villages cut off from the rest of civilization during the rainy season. Furthermore, they were amazed to find these little radios were made in their native Canada. Since then, they raised funds to purchase and distribute radios that include a Quechua audio translation of the Bible. In the last 10+ years Greg and Alex, along with many short-term workers, have distributed more than 50,000 little red radios.

Just Getting There

Four-wheel-drive vehicles are necessary to get around the rugged mountains of Bolivia. This trailer carries many suitcases of solar-powered radios brought by a group of short-term volunteers. The radios have scripture recordings and are tuned to a Christian radio station that broadcasts in the local Quechua language.

Experiencing Bolivian Hospitality

Hospitality is a big part of Bolivian culture. These women are preparing meat for a communal meal.

People here cook potatoes for a crowd in large barrels. They empty each barrel into a sack with holes to drain the water. Then they serve the potatoes straight from these bags.

Sharing the Gospel in the Mountains of Bolivia

Catholicism has had a significant impact on Bolivia and much of South America for hundreds of years. There aren’t enough clergy to operate all of the churches in small villages. For this reason, a church like this may only see a priest once a year.

One of the Bolivians who works with Alex and Greg has a passion for sharing the gospel with youth. He is over 70 years old and walks from village to village, sharing the Good News.

A Bolivian man who works alongside Greg and Alex explains how to use the little red radios. These radios come from Galcom, an organization based in Canada.

A box full of the little red radios are ready to be distributed.

Meet the Quechua

A young boy chews on sugar cane while standing outside the only church in Ravelo, Bolivia.

America has significant influence around the globe. Here a young man gives a thumbs up while sporting a Chicago cap.

Life and work in the altitude and harsh weather of the Andes mountains can have a detrimental effect on the body. A man’s worn hand waits to take notes at a local meeting in a small village church.

This woman’s name is Maria. When asked how old she was, she said that she had lost her personal documents and wasn’t sure. In rural societies like this, it is sometimes nearly impossible to locate copies of such documents.

Quechua Traditions

Music is an important part of Bolivian culture. So it is common to see different types of flutes and stringed instruments in the Andes mountains. Here a man holds a flute while a young child looks on inquisitively.

Quechua men weave themselves colorful hats called ch’ulos. These hats may tell the story of a harvest or festival but they can also just be an aesthetically pleasing design. In some areas the height of the hat and tightness of the weave indicate prestige or authority.

Responding to Outsiders

Some local people in rural locations are sometimes hesitant to embrace newcomers…

…Until they find out the newcomers are friendly and want to learn more about Quechua culture![/caption]

J.A. Boyle is Visual Media Strategist for Pioneers-USA. He recently traveled to Bolivia to see what God is doing through the work of a father-son-church-planting team.

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