While all eyes have been on Rio, Brazil over recent times, a group of South Americans have been preparing to cross 8,000 miles over the Atlantic to visit Birmingham.
From September 21 to October 10, six members of the Anglican Diocese of Bolivia will be hosted by Birmingham Christians as part of the developing link between the Church of England - Birmingham and the youngest Diocese in the Anglican communion. The party includes a Bishop, three priests and two lay leaders. From Quinton to Garretts Green, Elmdon to Springield, Selly Park to the City Centre, our Bolivian friends will be getting a taste of what God is doing in his churches and among his peoples in Birmingham.
In 2013 and 2015 two teams of lay people and clergy from our Diocese visited four of the major cities in Bolivia. We enjoyed fantastic hospitality, learned a lot about the challenges and joys of ministering in the Bolivian context, saw God move powerfully and viewed some amazing scenery. Now it's time to return the hospitality. Edgbaston reservoir may not compete with Lake Titticaca in the Andes, but we hope the show our Bolivian friends some of the glories of middle England during their stay.
What do we hope to achieve? Well, the trip has four aims:
- The strengthening of relationships as we get to know each other better across cultures.
- To be an exercise in mutual learning.
- To expose the Bolivians to our mission context and see how churches and organisations are meeting the challenge.
- To encourage a greater level of interest here in what God is doing in Bolivia.
There'll be lots of visits, preaching engagements and meetings going on across our Diocese, but if you're not part of the programme, why not come along to one of two meetings planned to allow the Bolivians to share something of their culture and their experience of ministry? On Tuesday 27 September, there's an open meeting at St Lukes, Great Colmore Street at 8.00pm. Alternatively, there's an evening on 4 October at St. Nicholas Kings Norton 7.45pm. All are welcome to these. The Bolivians would love to meet you. Don't worry, translators will be on hand.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters as they prepare to adjust to a new culture. Some of them have never been outside their country before, let alone outside Latin America. They have a great story to tell. We hope they feel as warmly welcome and valued as we did on our visits to Bolivia.