2,000 miles west of Rio is one of the world’s highest cities, Potosi, Bolivia. Rising outside the town is Cerro Rico, a mountain honeycombed with silver mining tunnels. The mines are worked by men and a large number of child laborers. They often eat bags of coca leaves to energize themselves and ward off hunger. Potosi and its environs is a stark and challenging place to live and work.
Dr. Steve and Mary Hawthorne, missionaries we support at GBC, run a medical clinic that serves the disenfranchised of Potosi. One of the Hawthorne’s greatest passions is to provide care, both physically and spiritually to the mining community. They see medical care as a way to gain the miner’s trust and share the good news of Jesus.
But, sharing Jesus there is not easy. Many, if not most, of the miners believe that the land above the mines belongs to God, while the land down below belongs to the devil. Scattered throughout the tunnels are shrines deifying the devil, and miners are taught at an early age to pay homage to the evil one.
In a recent newsletter, Steve and Mary told two stories that offer glimmers of hope for the mining community.
1. Recently, while Steve was speaking to a group of young people at church, a young miner, and a big drinker, wanting change, spoke with Steve. He was out wandering, saw the lights of the church, and came in. He prayed, offering his life to God.
2. In July Steve and Mary attended a ceremony at a mining cooperative, ComPotosi. For several months, they have been visiting a group of miners and studying Christianity Explained with the only known Christians in the coop, equipping these miners to share their faith with their companions.
Praise God for encouragement. The Hawthorne’s road ahead is challenging. But, God is greater than all obstacles, and we should pray for them and their outreach.