Tales from 14,000 Feet

Reconciliation 2006 in Potosi Bolivia

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See the Update about the aftermath and God's faithful working!


March 27th we left Portland, OR airport for Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  Santa Cruz is a tropical city in central Bolivia, hot and humid, cosmopolitan and vibrant.  We stayed there one day and then flew to Sucre, the judicial capital of Bolivia (La Paz is the legislative and executive capital).  Sucre is at 10,000 feet and we took cabs to Potosi so we could acclimatize a bit to the highest large city in the world.  When we arrived in Potosi the first thing we looked for was OXYGEN!  No just kidding.  We were all a bit light headed and had slight headaches.  That night I was to preach at a Church of God in Potosi.  By the time we had to go with the interpreter I had a whopping headache and felt nauseous as well.  But I said to Jesus, in this weakness I go and I rely on Your strength.  I remembered the verses He gave me for my ministry (Jer. 1:5-10) and I wept with joy as the anointing began to flow as a promise from my Father.  I still was not feeling good at the church, but entered into the exuberant worship.  Sometime in that worship something happened in me, it was like a switch had turned and all the sudden I felt great!  I had joy and strength from my Lord surging through me.  Praise Jesus for His wonderful healing strength.   


I preached on being reconciled to God.  The Lord used my words, interpreted, to touch many in the church.  Many people in foreign lands don’t hear the optimistic message of the Bible.  When I called the people forward for ministry nearly everybody came forward.  Such lovely, wonderful people!  I fell in love that night with all those brown faces, so lovely to the Lord!  Three were healed, many came into fullness, one family was reconciled and nearly all had a personal word from the Lord for their lives.


The next night was similar to the first.  I ministered at the alter for several hours as God freely and ably gave out of His immeasurable bounty.  One little Quechua lady came forward, not for prayer, but to bless us.  I was taller than her on my knees, but such a vibrant, sweet lady.  Sarah, the interpreter, and I just hugged and kissed this lovely little lady.  As the rest of the church watched this, the love of the Lord fell like a blanket over that congregation and many tears were shed as God softened each heart.  You see the Aymara and Quechua are looked down on in Bolivian society.  They are darker skinned and smaller and wear different clothes.  But God loves them dearly and many are beautiful Christians.  God will bring every tribe and tongue together one day; we might as well get started now.


The next three days were dedicated to the Reconciliation 2006 ceremony.  Catherine Morris, a Canadian reporter was there and here is her take on the ceremony in the Casa de la Moneda, the place where the slaves were kept and the silver was coined.



World's highest city site of historic reconciliation ceremony

By Catherine Morris

Potosi, Bolivia, the highest city in the world at 4000 meters in altitude, was the site of a historic event today (March 31, 2006) aimed at reconciliation of indigenous Quechua and Aymara peoples with Spanish and Bolivian officials and the Roman Catholic Church. More than half of Bolivia´s people are indigenous Quechua and Aymara people, and for them Potosi symbolizes historic oppression through Spanish exploitation of indigenous people in past centuries. Millions of indigenous people and African slaves died working in the once famous silver mines of Potosi´s Cerro Rico ("Rich Mountain") which greatly contributed to Spanish wealth 450 years ago. Now a historic colonial city of more then 100,000, many of Potosi´s residents still work the mines of Cerro Rico in often terrible conditions. A Quechua leader pointed out to cheers from the audience that the Spanish must recognize the anger of Quechua people about the killings of the past. An Aymara leader told the Spanish representatives that his people were "tortured and killed -- treated as animals and beasts. We feel very hurt," he said. "If we talk about reconciliation, Spain and our authorities have to engage in restoration of our culture and world view." A representative from the African-Bolivian community told about her ancestors who survived physical mistreatment and exploitation. "They were slaves of persons who acted without conscience, and their children and grandchildren still hold resentment," she said. "On behalf of my people and ancestors who were slaves at one time, I give you our sincere forgiveness at this time." Visiting First Nations leader, Dr. Richard Twiss, from the Lakota and Sioux Nations in the United States, pointed out that "reconciliation involves in part recognizing the sins in our own history, and then for the offending to the offended it involves asking forgiveness for the past. Reconciliation is not complete until we have policies and actions to put reconciliation into effect."

Twiss described how indigenous people in the United States and Canada "have suffered as Europeans assumed they could take our land and use it for their purposes. We were once millions of people, and now only a few million are left. Although our people live in the richest land in the world, we still suffer. While Europeans became rich, we became poorer and poorer."

Twiss added that because of terrible atrocities and many massacres, "our land has become defiled. Reconciliation is a step for healing our land so that it can become a place of peace for all its people."

Catholic Bishop Gustavo Rivero Montecinos asked the indigenous and African-Bolivian for forgiveness because "we did not show God´s love in our encounters with indigenous peoples," adding that members of the Roman Catholic church often did not "demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus in our own lives." He asked for forgiveness and mercy "because we say these things after so many centuries".

Speaking on behalf of Spain, Juan Diego Ruiz Cumplido, a representative from the Embassy of Spain, stressed "an attitude of going forward" and announced its commitment to continued cooperation with Bolivia, including several development projects. He said that in the information they received about the reconciliation event, there were ideas with which Spain disagrees. However, Spain plans an encounter between historians of Bolivia and Spain to analyze the past "in a serious way". The coordinator of the Reconciliation event was Canadian church worker Jurgen Schultz, who has lived in Potosi for 17 years.

"The main purpose of this meeting is peace and reconciliation," said Schultz. "We want to heal the wounds of the past and move on to the future."


From “Conflict Resolution Network Canada  April 5, 2006


God moved in this ceremony despite some of the drawbacks.  The Holy Spirit told me of His happiness that this beginning was happening.  The heavens were breaking over Potosi.


That evening we all went to the top of Cerro Rico and had another reconciliation ceremony with Jurgen playing the part of the Europeans, another Bolivians and another part of the indigenous people.  God really showed up here and I felt the powerful presence of the Lord there.  I started praying and crying out to God to come in power and take this high place back that was rightly His.  A young man Andre was praying on his knees at the side, weeping and travailing over Potosi.  The Lord said, “Go join him!”  So I went and knelt down behind him and started crying out to God with many tears.  God is at move in Potosi.

I know God is going to use Andre, who is the husband of Miriam the JUCUM base director in Potosi.  Please pray for Andre and Miriam as they lead the pastors of Potosi further into His glory.


Let me digress a bit at this time and tell you a bit of the history of Reconciliation 2006 and why it came about.  Tom Fitzgerald the leader of this little expedition was a missionary in Resistencia Argentina a few years ago and had a vision of grass in a desert area near there that was called “The Impenetrable” because of the desert and the unfriendly natives.  The natives were unfriendly because when the Europeans had first arrived they were killed wholesale and the rivers ran red with their blood.  Beloved, make no mistake about it God knows and God sees.  No Quechan, Aymara or Black slave died in Potosi, no native was killed in the Impenetrable without God seeing and taking account. 









Look at the story of Cain and Abel.


Genesis 4:

9Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11“Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12“When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”


The voices of all those who were killed because of man’s greed cry to God from the ground and God demands reconciliation between peoples.


Tom preached this message in the Impenetrable and God moved in a mighty was and men’s hearts were broken.  Reconciliation came about and churches were started.  Two years later the rains came back, the fish came back into the rivers, the grass grew again, the forests came back and the animals in the forest came back.  Praise the Lord for His wonderful work in men’s hearts!


Miriam the Potosi JUCUM director heard this story and got 12 pastors together and had Tom come up and teach on reconciliation and tell that story.  Those 12 pastors caught the vision and from that vision Reconciliation 2006 was born.


After the Reconciliation 2006 ceremony in the Casa de la Modena we had a celebration time at the Coliseum with many of the Quechua and Aymara as well as many from Potosi and of course those beautiful JUCUM youth.  Pictures of most of the events can be seen here.


God moved in Bolivia and used me to help many experience the sweetness of His love and His supernatural power.  There will be a documentary of this whole event.  I will be getting copies and I will make them available for minimum donations to cover my costs.


Pray for Bolivia, pray for Potosi!




  See the Update about the aftermath and God's faithful working!