Thursday, January 05, 2006

An old fellow in the road in Lambrama, a village near Abancay, Peru

Beams Bytes -- January 2006

Dear friends,

So what New Year’s resolutions did you make this year? I made the usual resolutions: lose weight, get fit, and spend more time in Bible study and prayer.

These are all worthwhile goals, but most people in Bolivia have more basic goals such as: “grow enough food (or earn enough money) to insure the family has food on the table.” It amazes me how hard people in South America work for just pennies an hour. The average rural worker earns two to three dollars for a full days labor. Men are often gone from home for months at a time working on large ranches or plantations. Women usually stay home to take care of the children and the families own small farm. Our World Concern projects are designed to help families increase their income through teaching better agricultural practices and by using micro loans to give them a jump start with their own small businesses. It is our hope that by participating in these programs, families can stay together, improve their diets and living conditions, and their children can stay in school. We also share the good news if Christ with project participants. The gospel message shows the way toward purposeful living and provides hope for this present world and beyond. It is hard to change a repressive economic system from the top down, but by working with individuals and families, World Concern is helping from the bottom up, helping people change on the inside. As you begin to prioritize your time and resources for the coming year, think about how you can be involved in making a difference in the lives of poor people here in Bolivia. Of course we appreciate and need your continued financial support, but we also need consistent prayer. And please consider visiting us here in Bolivia so you can see first hand the hardships and how God is using his people affect change.

You may have heard in the news that Bolivia elected a new president on December 18th. Evo Morales, a socialist candidate with strong ties to Cuba and Venezuela, was overwhelmingly voted into office. He received about 55% of the votes—more than any president in the last 50 years. Morales, who does not even have a high school education, is the first indigenous leader elected as president. He is a coca farmer (cocaine is made from coca) and became a strong leader among the cocaleros (coca growers) in the 1990s. He is popular with the rural and Indian population because he has promised to relieve poverty and redistribute the wealth of the country through land reform (taking land away from the wealthy land owners and giving it to the landless Indians), and by nationalizing the oil and gas industry of Bolivia. He will also probably legalize coca production. Admittedly, his platform has made the U.S. government a bit nervous. He has taken a strong anti-American stance and has even threatened to kick American businesses and citizens out of the country. We certainly hope he moderates his stance on some of these issues. Pray for the Bolivia in the next couple of months as we make a transition to this new government. And pray for our family specifically that we will be able to continue our work here unhindered by national politics.

I had a fantastic trip to Puno and Abancay, Peru the first two weeks of December. World Concern would like to expand their work further in Peru, replicating several of our successful Bolivian projects. The poverty in Peru is tremendous, and there are fewer NGO’s and working in these areas of Peru than are working in Bolivia. Two local Christian NGO’s are working in Puno and Abancay that World Concern would like to become partners with. These organizations have a real heart and vision for relieving poverty and sharing the gospel, but they do not have the financial resources to implement effective projects. We will be seeking funding to finance micro-credit, agriculture, and water projects in Puno and Abancay—so keep this concern on your short prayer list as well.

Our family is doing well. We had a great three week visit with Nathaniel over the holidays, but now he is back in Lexington for the remainder of the school year. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support, we could not be here without your help.

In His Grace,Danny

Mailing address:

Daniel and Vanessa Beams
World Concern
Parapeti #146 -- Casilla 3681
Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Office Telephone: 011 591 3336 3664
Home Telephone: 011 591 3352 9156