Dr. Dale W. Kietzman, a missionary elder-statesman who has dedicated his life to serving the indigenous peoples of Latin America, has issued an urgent SOS to Christians around the world to help the people he has been serving for so long.
|Children from the Awa Guaja Indian tribe, the Amazon’s last surviving nomadic people|
Dr. Kietzman, founder of Latin American Indian Ministries (www.LAIM.org) and a former US director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and before that a Bible translator in South America, is concerned that his ministry funds are now so low that will not be able to give urgent help to those they have been aiding.
In a letter to supporters, he began by quoting Sir Francis Bacon (English author and philosopher, 1561-1626) who wrote, “Knowledge is power.”
Kietzman said, “The letters you get about the churches and communities Latin American Indian Ministries (LAIM) serves give you the ‘knowledge’ for the ‘power’ to pray and give, and even to act directly to serve our Indian brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Over the years, I have had the privilege of working alongside so many of these community leaders, in Mexico, Peru and Brazil. This has built into me a desire to ‘do something’ as soon as I become aware of another need. I know that I was not the first one they turned to, seeking wisdom and help to solve their problem but I always know that we can help. This idea of assisting Latin American Indians in their time of need and sharing the love of Christ is at the heart of the LAIM mission.
“It turns out that is a bad habit, because I have just been informed by our Treasurer that he is shutting down all payments of any kind because we have flat run out of money. That worries me, because I know of so many Indian pastors and communities who will just have to hurt a while longer.”
|Shipibo flooding (Photo: villageearth.org)|
He went on to say, “Last week we reported on the floods along the Ucayali River above and below Pucallpa in Peru. The river ran so fiercely that it dug out its banks, in some cases changed course. Fifteen Indian communities LAIM has been working with were simply wiped out; houses were swept way. The pastors wrote to us about their distress.
“The families all had dugout canoes to carry them to safety. The houses can be rebuilt with materials in the jungles. I imagine they carried their tools, axes and machetes, with them. Their fields are typically back in the jungle; as soon as they dry up, it will be time for planting a new crop. But this is the problem: the corn and rice seed they had saved from the last harvest was stored up in the rafters of the houses, which are now floating down toward the Amazon.
“I realized that they had to have seed to plant, or there would be no new harvest—and then there would be hunger! So I authorized the sending immediately of $1,000. It had to be diverted from an already allocated project. In reality we don’t have these funds and these people need your help.
“As you know, we are a faith-based ministry, recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on friends like you to keep our unique and important ministries going.
|Dan Wooding with Dale W. Kietzman|
“I believe it is vital that we continue our projects without interruption, especially our pastoral training seminars in Mexico, the Totonac radio program, and our community church based projects in Peru. I am asking you to please prayerfully consider helping us to get back into business by sending a special contribution at this time.”
Dr. Kietzman, who was also a founding board member of ASSIST Ministries, said that people can help by sending a check directly to the LAIM Administrative Office c/o Christian Resource Management, PO Box 2050, Orange, CA 92859, USA. They can also do so by credit card by going to their website (www.LAIM.org), and press one of the “Donate” buttons found on almost every page.
“This is a very secure way of giving. As another option you could also set up a reoccurring monthly gift that would help us sustain these essential programs for years to come,” he said.
“Thanks for listening to my plea. It has been humbling to have to write this letter.”