It was far from being a normal day at Castillo Fuerte. Not that my many days at our mercy center in this poor neighborhood (La Victoria) have ever truly been what I would call “normal”, but this day was especially abnormal due to a somewhat major emergency situation that had all of our Peruvian teacher staff just a bit alarmed. And, after realizing that I wouldn’t be much help to them, I eventually let them do what they needed to do, and I found myself upstairs, trying to keep some kids contained. Being kids, they were aware of the situation, while at the same time, they were quite occupied telling each other goofy stories and such.
In the midst of all of that, one of the kids suddenly thought of something. “Wait!” she cried out to the other kids, who were busy being full of energy and laughter. “Why don’t we pray for this situation?” The next thing we knew, the child (around ten years old) got us to all calm down and pray with her for the situation. While part of me was just a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of praying with the kids in that moment, it was also a really awesome moment in which God seemed to be showing me that he has indeed been using me here.
It’s one thing to help a kid learn how to be mostly silent (and not chatting with their friends and not moving around) during the prayer time in our chapel services. It’s one thing to see the kids wanting to have a turn to lead us in a prayer to bless our lunch. But it’s a completely different thing to see them putting into action Philippians 4:6 (NASB) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ”
During my time here in Peru, God has been teaching me a lot of different things. Something that he has been especially teaching me is the great power and the extreme importance of prayer. He has been teaching me how prayer is not simply an occasional activity or a routine habit in my daily or weekly life, but much more about trying to understand and live out 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB), “pray without ceasing”. Prayer is one of the many ways that we rely on God in the midst of each and every one of the problems and difficulties that we have in our life. Prayer is one of the many ways that we continually give thanks to God for his great mercy and grace, both when things are going well in our lives, and when things aren’t so well. And, more than anything, prayer helps us to grow in our relationship with God.
So, learning more and more how to use prayer in my own life, I have wanted to help the kids at Castillo Fuerte use prayer in their own lives, too. After all, I don’t want these kids just to have a basic idea about the Gospel without any more depth (although of course the good news of Jesus Christ is the absolute most important thing that I can communicate to them). I don’t want these kids to just come regularly to the Bible classes and church services that we put on. I don’t want these kids just to be growing with God when they’re at Castillo Fuerte. I want them to know God and have a relationship with him—a relationship that affects their life all the time, when they’re at home, when they’re at school, when they’re with their friends, and everywhere else, too.
Teaching them about prayer has, in part, included talking about the idea of prayer and what it involves, over and over and over again in the different Bible classes in which they participate. But, beyond simply just talking about prayer, I’ve also tried to use many different Bible classes to actually spend a good amount of intentional time praying for them, as well as giving them the opportunity to pray. Through all of this I’ve hoped and prayed that they have indeed been grasping onto this idea (as well as the many other ideas that I’ve wanted to teach them). So, this young girl taking the initiative to lead us in a prayer for the unknown situation (which, by the way, turned out fine in the end) seemed to be a huge affirmation that God teaching them through me had indeed had some fruit. And having that affirmation seems likes a very fitting way for me to wrap up my time here.
My time here in Peru as a missionary is indeed wrapping up. As I write this toward the end of November, I’m looking ahead to just barely a month more of work here. I expect that these next few weeks will be quite busy as the time truly comes to say goodbye to everyone here, and as I start packing up and, finally, heading off.
I have learned a whole lot during my time here in Peru, in addition to what I’ve talked about with prayer. And I’ve also seen God using me in different ways to bring more people to know him better. I hope and pray that these people will always continue to draw closer to God and have a strong relationship with him.
So, you may be wondering “What comes next?” This will be my last official news blast as a GEO missionary through the Office of International Mission of the LCMS. However, hopefully really soon I can send some news on where God is calling me next, whenever that becomes fully clear. Until that time, I ask that you keep me in your prayers, so that God would give me lots of wisdom and discernment in these next steps in my life.