Elvira Englund Firestone, pioneer missionary to Bolivia, passed from earth on September 20, 2014, in her home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia at the age of 95.
Born and raised in the U.S. state of Missouri, Elvira arrived in Bolivia in 1946 with her husband Homer Firestone, who had survived a nearly fatal attack of appendicitis during the voyage by sea. The Firestones went on to plant the Church of God Holiness in Bolivia, an indigenous “people movement” that would eventually outgrow its mother church in the United States.
In 1963, a small storefront church in Oruro invited the Firestones to join them in evangelizing the Aymara and Quechua-speaking rural communities in the surrounding Altiplano region.
From this modest beginning grew the Association of the Church of God Reformation, which today counts approximately twenty-thousand members meeting in nearly three hundred congregations. It is recognized as the largest national church in Latin America affiliated with the Church of God movement.
Along the way, Homer Firestone earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in anthropology (1963) from the University of New Mexico. He authored several books in English and Spanish about Bolivia, examining the interaction of biblical Christianity with indigenous cultures.
Homer, who was also a licensed family therapist, died of cancer in 1996.
Elvira held a bachelor of science in nursing. While working as tent-makers in the 1960s, she and Homer founded El Libertador Clinic in Cochabamba, offering chiropractic treatment and family therapy services.
“In the name of the Church of God in Bolivia, we extend our condolences to the Firestone family at this time,” said Victor Hugo Quispe, president of the Association of the Church of God Reformation in Bolivia.
“Sister Elvira has been a spiritual mother to us. Together with her husband Homer, she has been a spiritual guide and example to all of us. May God comfort her children, grandchildren, and extended family.”
Elvira is survived by her daughter LeTaye and son-in-law Ray Injerd of Oroville, California; her son Ronald and daughter-in-law Violeta Cepeda, of Santa Cruz, Bolivia; three grandchildren and two great grandchildren. LeTaye and Ron are licensed chiropractic doctors.
Friends who wish to send messages of condolence and encouragement to the Firestone family may do so via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.