Normally in the summer, the FPC Mission teams are gearing up to organize June and July medical, dental, and vision clinic trips to Haiti and Bolivia. However, due the COVID-19 pandemic, these summer trips did not occur. Our teams truly miss helping our friends in person, but the FPC Mission committee decided to send our trip funds to Bolivia and Haiti to assist with work happening on the ground.
In Bolivia, the Mission budget funds, normally used to buy medical, dental and vision supplies, were redirected to the Eden School for operating expenses and support of Eden student via scholarships. Many FPC members, PW Circles, and several Church School classes sponsor Eden school students.
First Presbyterian Church has been involved in this mission project for over 20 years!
What started out as a cultural exchange between members of the Suhnam Presbyterian Church in Kwang-ju, Korea and First Presbyterian Church has grown to include 16 mission trips to the Eden School and mission of Rev. Ik Bai Moon and his colleagues in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
In 1994, the Suhnam church began supporting Rev. Moon. He had already established 20 mission churches in and around Santa Cruz and by 2000 he had established 5 more. In 2016 Rev. Moon and two Bolivian pastors – Rev. Miguel Vargas and Rev. Juan Carlos – visited FPC and in 2019 Pastor Miguel Vargas and his wife visited First Presbyterian, met with our congregation and saw how we worship so he can continue to improve on nurturing his congregation in Santa Cruz.
Eden truly is an oasis of Christian-oriented education and welfare in the midst of a very poor neighborhood. And, Rev. Moon reaches more people in Bolivia through the Eden School than through all of the 25 churches he originally established during his many years of missionary work in Bolivia.
The landmark 25th anniversary of the Eden School was celebrated at Eden on September 1, 2018. Laura Miller and Bill Miller represented FPC, and Bill presented a commemorative plaque to Rev. Moon signed by Dr. Ed McLeod and Nancy Russell, who was Clerk of the Session at the time.
Our involvement in Rev Moon’s mission has been to support him spiritually and to provide funding to help him emulate the US missionaries who originally brought Christianity to Korea beginning in the 1880s. They had a threefold message: 1) preach the Gospel; 2) educate their flock; and 3) establish community health care centers.
Starting in 2005, FPC has now sent mission teams 14 times to Eden bringing dental, medical and vision clinics that have treated over 30,000 patients.
The FPC Bolivian summer mission trip gives FPC members a chance to interact directly with the Eden children and members of Rev. Moon’s community. On our last mission trip in June of 2019, 1550 individuals were fitted with prescription glasses and 600 Eden School children, grades K-12 received fluoride treatment.
Kathy Johnson, Bill and Laura Miller and Charles and Margaret Peacock have been Zooming with Rev. Moon quarterly to stay informed about the state of affairs in Bolivia. Rev. Moon’s son Abraham, who lives in the US, has joined our Zoom sessions to serve as a translator. We hope to return to Bolivia once it is safe to travel internationally.
For more information about the Bolivian Mission, contact Bill and Laura Miller, or Charles and Margaret Peacock.