How Love In Action International Ministries Began and Evolved from 1998 to Present
Founders of Love in Action International Ministries, Gary and Jerri Zimmerman, have been involved in overseas missions since 1974 when they were missionaries in Costa Rica working at a seminary where students from Latin America were enrolled. Upon returning to the States, Gary and Jerri continued their calling and founded Love in Action in 1986—a ministry through their church—sending short-term teams to assist other ministries in various countries. In 1998, they expanded the name to Love in Action International Ministries, established the ministry as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, and continued to send short-term teams. 1999 saw the first team go to build a church in a suburb of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It was there that they met Pastor Saul Peralta from Guayararmerin, Bolivia. Pastor Saul had asked the Zimmermans if they would come to minister in his town. However, at that time, Gary and Jerri did not sense God's leading to Guayaramerin. In 2004, the ministry changed courses and began a ministry of building orphanages in Latin America.
In 2001, Gary and Jerri felt God’s leading to begin a ministry specifically for children. When their daughter, Andrea, was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, they sensed that God was calling them to begin an orphanage ministry in Latin America. Throughout Andrea’s battle with cancer, Pastor Saul and the believers in Bolivia had prayed for her healing. Knowing that Gary and Jerri wanted to build an orphanage...and when they heard of Andrea's passing in 2004, they offered Love in Action International Ministries a two-and-a-half-acre property. The believers in Bolivia knew then that God had provided the property for the purpose of establishing a Home to rescue children. The groundbreaking for the first orphanage in Guayaramerín took place in 2005. Surveying and construction began in 2006 and the first orphanage - Andrea’s Home of Hope and Joy, opened on June 14, 2008. On June 14, 2023, Andrea's Home of Hope and Joy celebrated its 15th anniversary. At present, close to 100 children are being cared for in a loving family home environment.
Since 2006, multiple teams of volunteers have traveled to Bolivia to work alongside the local people to construct buildings and minister to the children who have been brought into Andrea's Home of Hope and Joy; named in memory of Gary and Jerri's daughter. In addition to Andrea’s Home, a Christian school has been established on the campus for kindergarten through sixth grade. Credentialed teachers provide a well-rounded education which includes the basic subjects plus Christian education, music, choir and band, physical education, computer, English as a second language, and arts and crafts. The children then attend a public school from seventh through twelfth grade. Andrea’s Home also owns 230 acres where a dairy has been established along with two large vegetable gardens, and more than 100 fruit trees and bushes of many varieties. In addition, in February 2023, a bakery was opened on the Home's property adjacent to Andrea's Home and a cafe/store was opened adjacent to the church in town where the children attend. These businesses, plus the farm have been established in order to assist the Home to become partially self- sustaining.
In June of 2023, the first team of the Summer from Summerville, South Carolina worked alongside the Bolivian crew on phase one of the second Andrea's Home of Hope and Joy in the town of Riberalta, Bolivia. The property of six acres was purchased by a team member about 11 years prior. The foundation stone for a church plant on the property was placed in July by the third team from Springfield, Missouri.