By Missionary to Bolivia Kevin White

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As you walk down the street, you can smell the overwhelming odor of incense. This means it is the first Friday of the month here in Bolivia, and the entire city is practicing what is called the K’oa, or a burnt offering made to the Pacha Mama or Mother Earth.

The K’oa consists of a small stand with charcoal on it and on top of the charcoal you can put any number of small items, from figurines to different spices that give a distinct smell. Each item represents a specific offering or blessing that you are asking from the Pacha Mama or Mother Earth. It is a way of thanking her for her blessings and appeasing her for anything that you might have done that would make her mad. The K’oa is done on the first Friday of the month, on the Tuesday of the week of Carnival, or any other time that something bad happens at your home or business.

I remember at our first house our neighbors were building an extra floor onto their home, and they invited my family over for a cookout and dedication of their construction project. What we didn’t realize is that there had been a couple of accidents in their home, and the construction workers refused to continue working until our neighbors offered the K’oa. The construction crew believed the Pacha Mama was angry because they had moved too much dirt. After we ate, the workers picked up the burning coals and walked from room to room letting it fill up with smoke. The goal was to appease the Mother Earth and to have no more accidents.

While this act might seem totally innocent, it is really a pagan practice that dates back to the Incas. Not only do they offer gifts to the Mother Earth, but they also offer the K’oa to the Tío which means “uncle” in Spanish and represents the devil, the ruler of this earth. Even more surprising is that most people who practice the K’oa would consider themselves devout Catholics and don’t even realize or seem to care that they are worshipping both the Virgin Mary and the devil.

This is just one example of the great spiritual oppression here in Bolivia. The people are truly in darkness and blind to the seriousness of their condition. We see this very thing mentioned in II Corinthians 4:4, where it says that the “god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” The saddest part is that many Bolivians think that they will be granted access to heaven for their dedication and sacrifice, but we know that in that day, they will be very surprised and disappointed.

This is why we have given our lives to take the gospel to the people of Bolivia, because the truth of God’s Word is the only thing that can truly make a difference in their lives.

Here is why the Gospel is so effective, and the reason that we are not ashamed of it:

La Paz, Bolivia

1. The Presentation of the Gospel:

Paul said in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” This very word and the good news it contains makes all the difference in what we proclaim. It is the story of redemption, of how God gave His only Son to save the lost. Paul realized that the Gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, was the only thing that could make a difference in someone’s life. Because this message was God’s message, Paul could proclaim it without fear.

2. The Operation of the Gospel:

As Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God…” The people of this world have a desire to change, and they attempt to change in so many ways. We see many programs, self-help groups, AA, NA, etc. that attempt to help people through their problems, but usually there is no lasting change. This is why Paul said the gospel is the power that is needed to bring about true change. It is as powerful as a stick of dynamite that can break the hardest heart.

3. The Manifestation of the Gospel:

It is important to see the difference the gospel makes and why this is vital. Any other attempt to help a person change is only external and temporal, because the work occurs from the outside in. As Paul states in Romans 1:16, the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation…” Salvation is something that starts on the inside and then makes a difference in every part of our lives. Additionally, salvation not only affects our current lives, but also our eternal future. When a person gets saved, he is saved from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and one day the very presence of sin. This is why our message is so important. It is the only one that makes a lasting difference.

4. The Justification of the Gospel:

In Romans 1:17, we can see the results of believing in the gospel and why it assures us of a place in heaven one day. Paul writes, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” It is through the gospel that we are justified or considered righteous before God. This means that when God sees the believer, He doesn’t see our sin, but Chris’s righteousness that covers us. Therefore, we can stand before Him unashamed, with boldness and assurance that He will accept us.

While we do see great spiritual darkness all around us here in Bolivia, we know that it is the powerful gospel of salvation that can shine into the darkness and redeem even the sinner that seems farthest from Him.

When we first started our ministry, there was a family that began to come to our church. The wife was already a Christian, but her husband was not. At first, he would sit in the services,

unbelieving, with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. After a couple of weeks of hearing the Word, this man’s arms began to drop and the expression on his face changed to that of interest. Then a few weeks later, he was actually shaking his head in agreement with what I was preaching. Shortly after, he trusted Christ as his Savior. This is a true example of how the Gospel is powerful enough to reach the person that seems almost unreachable and change lives and destinies completely.

About the Author

Kevin and Beth White have been missionaries in Cochabamba, Bolivia since 2006. Find out more about the Whites at operationbolivia.comand connect with them at

Kevin White

Missionary to Bolivia