Editor’s Note: This article is written by Abe Giesbrecht, the missions director of our sister conference—the EMMC—with which the EMC works as part of the MEM ministry in Bolivia.
by Abe Giesbrecht, Missions Director, Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference
VILLA NUEVA, BOLIVIA – It was not that many years ago that our EMMC congregations first became aware of this new community being formed. Villa Nueva came about as a result of work being done with Low German Mennonite families who were no longer a part of the colonies in the area.
Members of the Evangelical Bergthaler Mennonite Conference (EBMC) in Alberta, along with some workers from the EMMC, were helping where they could. Some basic food and medical needs, education, and spiritual help were offered, but still life was hard.
Then, through help from friends in Canada and beyond, a plot of land was purchased and development of Villa Nueva began. Lots were planned, Habitat for Humanity provided some houses, and families began to settle on this newly acquired piece of land near Pailón, just east of the Rio Grande River.
Today, not even 15 years later, Villa Nueva is a thriving, growing community with homes and yards, a school, a church, and growing commercial and manufacturing businesses. In those years local leadership has developed into a community association committee, a local school board and an elder board in the church. Despite many hardships and by God’s grace, Villa Nueva has blossomed into a welcoming destination of choice for a good number of others who have left the colony lifestyle in Bolivia.
The MEM ministry, a partnership between EMMC, the EMC, the EBMC, and other associate members, continues to support a pastor couple, Abe and Margaret Harder, in the church, and to provide some teacher support in Nancy Friesen and Mary Bartsch and some tuition and administrative financial support for the school. Villa Nueva continues to grow and nurture families who settle there.
You can see some of the Villa Nueva story on EMMC’s You Tube channel under Villa Nueva 2016.