Bolivia Bound

Throughout the history of CLC, burdens have born bookstores. In 2010, the main Christian bookstore in Santa Cruz (the largest city in Bolivia) closed after many years of service. The need for Christian resources in this nation with a growing evangelical population is quite significant, and the store closure left a big hole in the community. Many local Christian leaders and pastors sought to find a suitable replacement and approached CLC about opening a bookstore as soon as we could. To God's glory, the CLC work has been growing rapidly in recent years in Latin America. Today, CLC has resource centers in Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Uruguay. Each of these teams is thriving and praying about how it can reach beyond its own borders. A little over 10 years ago, the Colombian team sent out their best manager and his wife as cross cultural missionaries to Ecuador to get that work started. This model proved to be quite successful and CLC now operates five bookstores and a distribution warehouse to serve the growing needs of the Ecuadorian church. When this need in Bolivia became known, the CLC team in Venezuela began praying to see if this was a project that they could take on. After a significant time of prayer and seeking God's wisdom, they decided to step out in faith to take on this huge task and to give of their best. This sacrificial principle of tithing from your first fruits has been a hall mark of the CLC Latin American teams for many years. Surprisingly, the team decided not just to send one of their best managers, but the current leader of their team, Gamaliel Padilla and his wife Marlene. They have both served actively on the Venezuela team for many years and filled vital roles that will make them very hard to replace. While the two countries do speak the same language, this will be a very cross cultural experience for this family as many things are different. Getting a new store started in a new country is not a simple undertaking and there is much work to be done. Applications will need to be completed with the government, a location will need to be found, books will need to be purchased, shelves will need to be built and installed, and the community will need to be informed that CLC is opening a store. Each of these steps involves time, money and people. Please pray that the Lord will clear the way with government officials and others that need to give us permission to get started. Our goal is to see Gamaliel and his family move to Bolivia this winter, once all the needed permissions are in hand. This also means significant transition for the Venezuela team which will now need to elect a new leader and find people to fill the roles that are being vacated. What makes this story particularly remarkable is that the Venezuela team nearly ceased to function just a few short years ago. When the current president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, came into power, the ensuing economic turmoil almost destroyed the CLC ministry. For two years, the sales decreased precipitously (nearly 75%), while many fixed expenses remained the same. On top of that, getting money out of the country to pay vendors was nearly impossible.The team prayed, asked for counsel, and sought the patience of the book publishers that they had been working with for many years. Many wonderful people stepped up to help with advice, finances, prayer and patience. Some vendors even forgave some of the team's indebtedness. As a result of these miracles, the Venezuelan team began to have hope that they would eventually come out of the crisis. During the midst of the crisis, however, the team had to make hard choices. Little did they know how these choices would help them prepare for the future. They sold a headquarters location in the western part of the country and moved many people and offices to the much more centrally located city of Valencia. In addition, they began making plans to grow again once things became more stable in the country. Within a few short years, things began to turn around and the team saw their sales increase by double digits for several years in a row. They were able to open many new stores and even a new warehouse location in 2010. Knowing how God had so richly blessed them, they could not help but be motivated to see a new work started in Bolivia so that they could bless others. by David Almack

Via:: CLC International Articles