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Checkpoint Autumn 2022: Long-distance discipleship

CMS missionaries Adrian and Anita Lovell serve in Bolivia where they teach the Bible through MOCLAM courses. Anita shares how studying God’s word has shaped and directed her former student, Roxana and her ministry.

“Go and make disciples of all nations.” Such a straightforward command, and yet what does it look like to obey that command in the Bolivian jungle?

Roxana knows. Her obedience to Jesus’ command has taken her away from the comforts of her home, in the city of Cochabamba, to a small, isolated town outside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She has found her place in a normally closed remote community and made the most of the opportunities God has provided to share her life and faith with the children there as their teacher. She has persevered despite the hardships of isolation, extreme heat, a new language, drastically different cultural expectations, and poor resourcing.

One of the ways God has equipped Roxana to make disciples in the Bolivian jungle is through the study of his word in the MOCLAM courses.

Anita with Roxana.

Discipling despite distance

Adrian and I met Roxana in 2015 through a mutual friend, and she studied a MOCLAM subject with us in Cochabamba. Over the next couple of years, Roxana continued to study from a distance. Every year, when she returned to Cochabamba, she would share of her experiences with us over a meal. She and I would then meet to go over some of the MOCLAM material and pray. In 2020 she successfully completed her Certificado de Teología Preliminar (Preliminary Theological Certificate—six subjects).

Discipling Roxana was distanced and yet deep. The distance involved was not only the physical distance between Cochabamba and the remote jungle community, but also the specific situations Roxana was wrestling with.

“What should I say to the recently converted lady at my church, who asks me where a witch’s power comes from and why can’t we say it’s God’s power? How is the spiritual realm expressed on earth? How can I help new converts to have assurance of their salvation?”

These were some of the questions we spoke about while studying Ephesians.

Discipling Roxana was sporadic and yet fulfilling. We couldn’t meet regularly and share day-to-day life together. Discipleship happened whenever Roxana visited Cochabamba, and yet God used those times to encourage both of us to persevere. Roxana and I had vastly different experiences of being missionaries, and yet we shared many of the same joys and challenges unique to those who have ‘gone’ to make disciples.

The value of training

As Roxana brought the Bible to bear on her ministry, God gave her an increasing desire to be better equipped to make disciples. In 2020 she applied and was accepted to study at the Centro de Estudios Pastorales (CEP) in Santiago, Chile. Roxana and I consulted and prayed about it together over the phone and, at the very last minute, God provided the money for her to be able to study. It was such a challenge for me to see Roxana’s trust in God, whatever the outcome. In 2022 she is now in her second year of study and plans to return to serve in Bolivia when she finishes in 2023.

In leaving the remote jungle community where she had been serving, Roxana was given a challenge by one of the Christian ladies: “You must go. Study hard. Then come back and teach us!”

Discipleship often takes time, hard work, creativity, sacrifice and preparation. Please pray that God would equip Roxana with all she needs for making disciples in the Bolivian jungle. Pray that Jesus’ absolute authority and continual presence would spur her on.

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Your partnership with CMS enables missionaries like Anita Lovell to walk alongside Christians like Roxana, discipling and equipping them for life and ministry. Click here to become a financial partner with CMS.