IMI specifically supports a select group of churches across the country who have started projects that reach out to their neighbours in practical and necessary ways. Sometimes it’s caring for the elderly or children who suffer neglect, other times it’s investing in at-risk teens or vulnerable women. There are even some churches who are working proactively to care for the environment!
The team mentioned above collaborates to provide participating churches with technical and theological training throughout the year. Our biggest event however, is a retreat which brings together leaders from each of the projects. This two day event strives to help church leaders acquire new skills and gain tools to strengthen their programing. There is also a strong focus on Biblical study as participants listen to speakers and explore the theological basis for serving as a missional church.
Many churches that step out and take on this kind of initiative can end up feeling alone and discouraged. With this in mind, leaders had formal and informal time to talk about their challenges, solutions, resources and overall experience throughout the weekend. One of the central goals of the event was to facilitate conversation between participants, particularly those running similar projects, that could allow to encouragement.
Sara, who runs a project on the boarder of Argentina for preschool children from vulnerable families shared: “I had no idea so many other churches were doing stuff! Our project just started this year and I’ve been able to learn so much from people here with more experience. I have a network of people I can now go to for help and advice.”
Mildred, who runs a sports camp for at-risk teenagers said: “Before this retreat, I had never really considered the impact that our project can have on the volunteers who come to help. By treating our volunteers with appreciation and recognizing their participation as an opportunity to disciple them, I think we can make our project more sustainable.”
Freddy, a pastor from Santa Cruz whose project we talked about in a previous blog said: “I thought that the only resources we had were in our own church, but after getting ideas from other projects, I was able to recognize some opportunities for support that I had never considered before. For example, we can invite people from other churches close by to come volunteer with us!”
Leaving the retreat, the leaders expressed feeling empowered in their work and encouraged to know that they have a network of friends around the country they can call on. They felt united in their mission to share the Gospel in Bolivia through word and deed.