our story (2009)

Imagine with me: a not-so-typical American family of 6. Mom, Dad, 3 boys, 1 girl. Texans – tried and true. Love the Lord, serve Him in ministry and blessed with a big heart for missions and other cultures. God gives them a vision. God clearly speaks to them. He is calling them to something deeper, something amazing, something wild and adventurous! He has put within them a passion for the people of South America. He has put within them a desire to live among those people, learn the language, the culture, and build relationships that will eventually lead to those people knowing Jesus. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR the calling that God has placed on their lives. They feel the stirring, the urgency to answer the call. They feel the great battle of choosing between stepping out in faith into the unknown, unfamiliar and challenging adventure or staying within the comfortable confines of their American suburban lifestyle. Whew! What a choice. Can you just imagine? By now some of you will have figured out that the family is us! A lot of you already know our desire to do mission work and our history with missions. Many of you have already heard the incredible news of our “Great Adventure” and some of you may be in shock right now and might need to stop reading for a while and breathe! Yes, it is true – WE are feeling called to the mission field on more of a long-term basis. We have a strong connection with Bolivia and feel this is where God is leading us. More specifically, Cochabamba – a city of about 800,000 on the western border of Bolivia, at the base of the Andes Mountains.

Why South America, and why Bolivia?
Shay and Lowell both have served in missions in the mid-90’s and first met one week before Lowell was leaving to go on a 2 week mission trip with a college group to Argentina. That next year Shay and Lowell went back on the same trip where Shay stayed the whole summer. Previously Shay had lived in Paraguay for 3 months where she lived with a Paraguayan family. Lowell’s familiarity with Bolivia came through his father who lived there for 2 years with the Peace Corps. In recent years Lowell joined his parents on a trip to Bolivia to visit for the first time the places his father had developed so many fond memories of the culture that had left a large impression on him for 40 years. After his visit to Bolivia, Lowell felt a strong desire to one day return with his family to pursue serving and living there one day. In the Spring of 2008 Lowell found out about a church in Cochabamba, Bolivia called CIC – Cochabamba International Church. Lowell later had a very unexpected and miraculous meeting with one of the staff from CIC that has lead him to a strong connection to Cochabamba which lead him and his family to visit there in Aug. of ‘09 for a “discovery trip”.

What Next?
Obviously, this is HUGE for us! This is not a decision that has been taken lightly or made hastily. It has been in the works for a while and we have prayed and sought the Lord’s will carefully. We have simply tried to be obedient and walk through each door that God has opened. If He closes a door, then we will seek out an open one. We have signed up with a mission agency called Ripe For Harvest. We are currently raising support, selling many of our belongings and eventually selling our home. We have currently raised almost 37%. Our Aug. trip went very well and was an important time to see how the kids would react to the culture and language, learn about the city and its inhabitants and for us to meet with some key church leaders and missionaries. You can view some pics from this trip here.

How Can People Help?
The only way for the Ballews to be able to go and live and serve full-time in Bolivia is from the generous financial gifts from friends and family. They are now moving ahead to raise financial support by asking friends and family to consider becoming ministry partners and pledge a monthly financial gift. Click here to learn more about that. Click here to subscribe to our blog so you can stay informed with our journey.