The Southgate family have the oversight of this new mission team which is locating in Tarija, Bolivia. (Click here to go to the Tarija Mission Team's external site.) Originally intending to go to Buenos Aires to work with an established congregation there, they were prevented by the outbreak of COVID-19. The team decided to go to Tarija, Bolivia, just north of Argentina.
The state of Tarija (population 482,000) is known for its agriculture and South America’s second largest natural gas reserves. The city of Tarija (population 240,000-300,000) continues to grow as people move out of the country but also because of the gas industry and its connecting industries. There are two main universities in the city of Tarija (one state and one private) with students averaging around 160,000. Tarija has always been a place of interest for those thinking about missions in Bolivia, but the Churches of Christ have not had a presence there more than visiting and encouraging people we know there. We are excited to be moving to Tarija and planting a church there.
The team is a group of unique individuals with a common serving heart. There are three families: The Cabrera family, the Myers family and the Torres family. We are interested in seeing Jesus' church grow. We represent two distinct countries (Ecuador and the United States) and come from very different backgrounds. We have been fortunate enough to have worked together in a church planting mission in Sucre, Bolivia, where we worked together for over a decade. We love to worship together and firmly believe in the power and need to be in prayer. We trust God to provide, give the increase and walk with us on our journey. The team plans to stay strong and focused by making unity in Christ our priority.
Two families will be arriving in Tarija at the end of February and the Torres family will be arriving in May. We will be opening up a contact center as soon as we can. Contact centers (we call ours “El Camino” – The Way, after John 14:6), are excellent evangelistic tools and help connections and fellowship to grow. The university students especially are open to the Gospel and the community center helps us reach them. It also establishes a place recognizable for those in the city for them to depend on. Hospitality is also a huge evangelistic tool as we welcome people into our lives.
Our mission is to be fervent in our purpose of sharing Christ and letting Christ be known. Sharing Christ through service, living in the community and opening our homes and lives to others so that Christ may come to be known by the way we love one another through actions and words, the harmony and unity we demonstrate, and the compassion, hope and grace we give. We desire to have Christ as the center of our actions and teachings. Community is fundamental in our walk with Christ. God has given us family and fellowship through our team and we want to offer that family to those around us. We want to create bridges between those who do have and those who don't so that gifts and goods may be used to bless the whole. We want to be a church that focuses outward and is active in the community without any other motive but to actively be compassionate and show love.
Please check out our website (elcaminoministries.com) where you can learn about the families on the team. Blogs are posted weekly to share news. More information on the work can be found on the website.