All work starts with a vision - a dream; and all dreams come to reality through the work of active visionaries. Such are Gwen & Marcos.
The leaders of this project - Gwen (Scottish) & Marcos (Bolivian) Quinteros are committed to a pattern of 'integral church', seeking to meet the varied needs of a poor community and building 'church' into everything they offer. It is a model of incarnational mission that would be appropriate in many locations. They are doing this by setting up, and developing, a new community centre in the barrio of Sumumpaya, on the western edge of Cochabamba.
Aspects of the community's needs that they address include : sport (football, volleyball, basketball), pre-school provision (PEPE), English classes, women's work, medical and dental attention and school support groups. All of this happens together with the running of a new and growing church at the centre of the community - for that's exactly where the Centre and sports hall are built.
There is a great need for people who share the vision to come to Cochabamba on a volunteer basis.
How it came about
Gwen was born in Aberdeen and brought up in the Orkney Islands. She saw the relevance of Christ to the lives of humans whilst studying marine biology at St Andrews University and joined several teams working in mission areas abroad with the organisation Soapbox. One of those trips was to Bolivia ("it just seemed interesting") and that led to a year there with Latin Link, when she met Marcos.
Marcos is from Cochabamba and was brought up as a Christian. During his time studying psychology at the local San Simon University, his life had other priorities...but he ultimately knew the only true Way was to walk closely with God. On his return from Canada, where he lived for 18 months, he studied Theology at the local Baptist Seminary and became Youth Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cochabamba, which is where he met Gwen.
In 1999 they were married in Cochabamba and came to UK for several years, where Marcos improved his English and they both attended Belfast Bible College (during which time Sara was born). In Belfast Marcos finished his BA and then an MA in Missions at Redcliffe College, Gloucester. They finally ended up studying with BMS World Mission in Birmingham, where their second daughter Eva was born. As to where all this was leading, God had it all planned...
Gwen writes - "Eva’s birth in 2005 coincided with my diagnosis of breast cancer. The years of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have seen us rely on God more than ever before, and He has not let us down. We are here in Bolivia now as a result of the prayers of so many people."
In 2007 they returned to Cochabamba to set up their own ministry in the city - searching for God's will and supported by much prayer from Britain and elsewhere. All their funding was eventually to come from individuals and churches, for they receive no financial help at all from any organisation. In other words they are independent mission workers and life by faith for the necessary funds to come in to support them and their vision of opening a community centre where the social and spiritual needs of people can be met. They found the place for that vision - of showing the love of Christ by living amongst the ordinary people and serving them where those people are. In the barrio of Sumumpaya they bought a family house and, eventually, a plot of land with a separate house.
The rest follows on from there - how they receive donations and practical help to convert that house into a community centre with a whole range of facilities; and then in 2009-2010 a large sports hall, other rooms and accommodation for the caretaker. In early 2012 a fully equipped gymnasium was added - and is already proving to be an attraction for the younger men in the barrio.