By Robert G. Wearner
Bolivia is a landlocked country located near the center of South America. It is bounded to the west by the majestic, snowcapped Andes Mountains that surround a high, dry, plain. A vast lowland plain spreads toward the north and east.
The nation is rich in natural resources, and is a leading producer of tin. But frequent wars and unstable political conditions have hampered economic growth.
During the 1500s Spain conquered the native inhabitants and ruled the region until 1825, when Bolivia won its independence. The new country was named after Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan general who helped Bolivia and several other South American countries win their independence from Spain.
As with most other South American republics, the first Adventist missionaries in Bolivia were colporteurs. Juan S. Pereyra, a former Presbyterian colporteur from Chile, sold the booksPatriarchs and Prophets and Steps to Christ in Bolivia as early as 1897. Imprisoned and condemned to death through the influence of Roman Catholic clergy, he escaped death through the help of a friendly judge who had become a Sabbathkeeper after reading the books sold by Pereyra.
Edward W. Thomann and his wife, Flora, were sent to Bolivia to direct the work in 1907. Two years later Ferdinand Stahl and his wife, Ana, started medical work among the indigenous population. In 1911 they moved to Peru where they spent most of their career. On August 7, 1912, Rosa N. Doering became the first Bolivian to be baptized. Mission work has made steady progress ever since.
Doctors H. E. Butka, Harry T. Pitman, Elmer Bottsford, and others have been involved in medical work in Bolivia throughout the years.
A solid educational system has developed, which includes many elementary schools, and, since 1991, the founding of Bolivia Adventist University (Universidad Adventista de Bolivia). It is located at Vinto, Cochabamba.
Located in the same city is the New Time Communication Center (Centro de Comunicaciones Nuevo Tiempo), which operates radio and TV stations and a Bible correspondence school.
The most recent evangelistic event was “The Hope Is Jesus” series, sponsored by the Bolivian Union with Shawn Boonstra from the It Is Written television ministry as guest speaker. All across the nation lay members linked arms with pastors to bring the gospel of Christ to their neighborhoods. More than 2,240 evangelistic campaigns were held as a result. In April, It Is Written participated in a series of reaping meetings. For eight nights Evangelist Boonstra preached to thousands of people who had gathered in hundreds of auditoriums to watch “The Hope Is Jesus” programs broadcast live from the Adventist University at Cochabamba. The result: 12,276 people baptized.