Revival in Bolivia and the Role of Julio Cesar Ruibal Since the end of the arrival of protestant missionaries

to Bolivia at the end of the 19th Century, conversions had been scarce. It is until after the Bolivian revolution of 1952 that radical social changes happen and there is more openness to non-Pentecostal and Pentecostal churches to penetrate relatively closed rural areas and which were receptive to hearing the Gospel.1 The establishment of Pentecostal missions occurred after the 1920’s but their growth had been slow. David Grams, an Assemblies of God missionary, describes how in 1952 when initiating a visit to the highlands region of Bolivia, in one of the meetings they had a special spiritual experience where some congregants were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Previously the Amigos (Friends) mission had passed on a small congregation to the Assemblies of God, since the Amigos missionaries had been in the region without much success. At that point this small congregation was requesting a pastor, and there were no trained workers at that moment, however, a young man, Andrés Condori, who happened to have received the experience of the infilling with the Spirit at that meeting, in miraculous ways responded to the call to become a pastor. According to his testimony, he and his wife saw an angel telling them to go and pastor the church. Immediately, Condori sold his bull (at that moment a highly valued commodity) to respond the call and put a lock to the doors of his humble home. After pastoring for two months, Condori went to visit Grams to inform him that he had 30 new believers ready to be baptized. This work eventually grew to reach the surrounding areas.2 Despite there are several accounts in which there were indications of a vital Church reaching out. However, there are no major episodes of a mass movement as it would be seen a couple of decades later. A very important breakthrough occurred with Julio Cesar Ruibal. As a young man, Ruibal had traveled to the United States to pursue medical studies. In 1971 he went to a Kathryn Kuhlman’s meeting at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles where he was healed and became a believer. Not too long after that he went to another Kuhlman’s meeting and he along with hundreds of people were not able to make into the auditorium. At that point Ruibal feeling guided by God to pray for the sick outside of the building, call on the people and started praying and at least 40 people were miraculously healed. This episode started Ruibal’s ministry. As Ruibal went back to Bolivia at age 19 in 1972, he started sharing the gospel with friends and family, signs and wonders started happening and soon the new converts started writing songs in Spanish, since Ruibal didn’t know much of the national churches and of the traditional songs they sang. Rapidly the group grew from 20 to 50, to 100 and in few months they had to rent auditoriums, and soon after even small stadiums to hold 6,000 to 7,000 people were becoming small. Attendees were attracted by the incredible signs and wonders taking place.3 Ruibal’s wife, describe some of the miracles:
1

Gilles Riviere, Bolivia: El Pentecostalismo en la Sociedad Aimara del Altiplano, http://nuevomundo.revues.org/index6661.html?lang=en#tocto1n2 (accessed September 2, 2009). 2 Historia de Semtad–El Alto, Seminario Ministerial Teológico de las Asambleas de Dios de Bolivia, http://www.geocities.com/semtadea/historia.htm (accessed September 2, 2009).
3

Everett Wilson, La Historia del Pentecostalismo Latinoamericano. A Summary of Ungidos Para La Cosecha del Tiempo Final written by Julio César Ruibal (Miami, FL: Editorial Vida, 1999), 26-28.

This was so outstanding that the secular newspapers showed pictures of the clouds and reported the miracle.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/Grady_Revival_A. miracles took place and large numbers of people received Jesus as their personal savior. However. This man was used by the police as a last resource to dissolve protests. The officer was bedridden after being in a car accident where his back had been damaged and was paralyzed from the waist down. Nevertheless. Ruibal also preached in Peru and Ecuador with similar manifestations as in Bolivia. (accessed September 2.000 audience. Mr.aspx. Charisma Magazine. 2009). Ruibal asked for means to do the work and Mr. his personal plane. and with body deformities. the President and his wife made a commitment to follow Jesus and offered any help needed to preach the Gospel. 28-30. instead. God had replaced the bone eaten away by cancer! Another type of miracle took place in Santa Cruz. Besides the campaigns in Bolivia. He helped pull her up and she stood. Banzer facilitated permits to use the largest stadiums. Then Julio felt the Lord telling him to lift the lady to her feet. but not from the north. One peculiar healing occurred in Ecuador when the police brought before Ruibal a mentally handicap man who also was deaf and mute. a city with a warm climate. (Normally that area would get cool winds from Antarctica in the south.4 The beginning and development of the massive campaigns also report miraculous events. however. . The initial intention of the officers was not out of concern for the man. 5 Wilson. Ruibal describes how on one occasion was invited to pray for a member of the cabinet of Bolivia’s President Hugo Banzer Suárez. the man was healed.5 Despite of the President’s political views in the following years after 1972. If gas. radio and prime TV time in the only TV station at that moment with a 1. She was bedridden and her upper leg could not be moved for lack of bone. they wanted to prove Ruibal as a liar. and even called for mayors in key towns to help organize meetings to hear the Gospel. as he was lead by the Spirit.000. Seeing this. or police dogs would not help to dissolve a protest. did not allow for massive crusades in these countries and rather Ruibal was the focus of persecution by different factions including the police of Ecuador. As a result. this man was sent yielding a long stick strong enough to cause serious damage on those who would be hit by the man. The political environment at that time. He led her to the Lord and then prayed for healing. The Lord sent clouds from the north to confirm that it was the Lord bringing relief. who at point would grunt as an animal.) Also the Lord sent a light mist that proved to be a type of air conditioning. and the man immediately received his hearing and his countenance changed. Many policemen did not believe in the miracle but as they learned 4 J.One of the miracles involves a woman with bone cancer. Immediately after having shared the Gospel with him and prayed for healing. Lee Grady. http://www. but it was a very hot day and some began to faint and ambulances would carry them away. The Marks of Genuine Revival. few days later. President’s Banzer actions that year were instrumental for the preaching of the Gospel. Her sons asked Julio to pray for her. On this particular day the multitudes were waiting for the meeting to begin. Ruibal put his hands on the man’s head. There.cbn. Banzer sent for Ruibal to bring him to the Presidential palace. Julio was moved with compassion for the people and prayed that the Lord would change the weather.

6 The move of the Holy Spirit in Bolivia during this time was sovereign. These group had not even heard about the campaigns or the miracles taking place but were experiencing a deep burden to hear about God. 30. natives of the area. . waiting for someone to come to them and talk about God. God’s grace was being manifested in different ways. Colombia. Christianity Today Magazine. http://www. (accessed September 2.. ministered there for several years. and on December 13.8 6 7 Ibid. although Ruibal is very notorious in this period. 2009). He was 42 at the time of his death.about the reality of what was happening they believed.christianitytoday. An account of a “New Tribes” missionary reports that one day they encountered a group of people.com/ct/1996/february5/6t2099. Ruibal. 34-35. 1995 he was murdered by one of the Colombian drug cartels..html. Eventually. and one of the higher ranking officers repented and decided to become a believer.7 This visitation of the Holy Spirit upon Bolivia opened ample doors for the Gospel and brought growth to the Church. 8 News: Prominent Bolivian Evangelist Murdered. Ibid. along with his family moved to Cali.

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