Wrapping up my time here in Peru…

23 Bday at CF in LV cropped.jpg
Levi, during one of his very first days at Castillo Fuerte, back in June 2016

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.

David and Goliath Sept 2017
Levi, not too long ago, teaching a Bible class to the kids in Castillo Fuerte
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Levi Karth–October Video Blog!!!!!!!

Here it is!!!! My latest video blog episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oct 2017 Vlog

And here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:

Coming up with new ideas, switching things up, adding new challenges: I realized that all of these were needed as I tried to brainstorm how to better teach the Saturday evening children’s Bible class at our church plant in La Victoria. For quite a few months, I had been walking through the book of Acts with the kids in that class, teaching them about what the early Church was like and how God was bringing more and more people to have faith in him. However, after one too many classes where the kids were having a hard time paying attention, I figured that it was probably time to try something different, both with the topic and, more importantly, with the way that I was teaching.

David is hiding Oct 2017
Me, as I teach a Bible class on the story of David

While coming up with different topics, I’ve tried a different way of teaching the class that empowers the kids a lot more and lets them actually help to teach the Bible class. Since a lot of the kids in this class have been coming to Castillo Fuerte for at least a year, they have had a lot of experience reading the Bible, so I figured that they were up for a new challenge: They would be divided into two groups, with each group being told to read together a Bible story, think through the story together, and then present what they had learned to the other group (with a presentation that, of course, included the essential puppet show). In the midst of all of that, I (and any other adults helping me) would be there to help guide the kids and think more deeply about what they were reading as well as plan out how to present their portion of the class.

Planning out Bible class Oct 2017
Some of the kids at Castillo Fuerte during a Saturday evening Bible class, figuring out how to present their portion of the class.

Obviously, kids are kids, so every class seems to have a different outcome no matter what we do: Sometimes that they don’t fully understand the Bible story and don’t get as organized as they would have liked (kids don’t always have a lot of patience!), while other times they have a ton of fun as they quickly grasp the Bible story and put on a really humorous presentation for us.

And either way, I think that it’s all worth the effort, because even if they don’t always understand the Bible story when they read through it the first few times, I can always still recap everything at the end of the class and help them see the good news of Jesus (how he suffered, died, and rose again to life in order to give us eternal life through faith in him) in the Bible story. And they are learning and figuring out how to teach the Bible to other people, which could quite possibly be a skill that is grown in them more and more as they mature in the faith.

CFEC class on Luke 11 Oct 2017
Me working with a couple of kids to help teach a Bible class

Even as I try out new ideas in the Bible classes that I am teaching, I am also seeking to remind the kids of what is truly important as my time here in Peru starts to wrap up. Not too long ago, as I was teaching one of the 15-minute daily Bible classes to the kids in Castillo Fuerte during our after-school program, I had them help me count up how many days were left in October…how many days are in November, and for how many days I would probably still be in Peru in December (which will probably be my last month here), showing them how very close my departure is.

Choosing actors for Bible class Oct 2017
And…yet another picture from yet another Bible class that I’ve taught in the past month

But at the same time, as I connected this with John 1:19-28 (a story where John the Baptist showed how his work wasn’t about himself—it was all about pointing people to Jesus), I reminded them that Castillo Fuerte isn’t about Levi. Coming to Bible class isn’t about Levi. Learning about Jesus isn’t about Levi. It’s about Jesus—learning more about him and walking more with him. So even after Levi is long gone from Castillo Fuerte, they can and should still be growing in their walk with God, as they continue to learn more about him and his love and grace for them.

With my DCE internship here in Peru ending in just a couple of months, and with all of the pledges and donations that I have received being more than enough, I’m not seeking any new financial support. However, I would definitely appreciate your prayers as I seek wisdom from God as to where he is calling me next. Thanks for much for supporting me during my time here in Peru!

Levi Karth–September 2017 Video Blog

Hey everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here’s my latest video blog episode:

Sept Video Blog

And here’s an excerpt from my latest newsletter:

Many afternoons at our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria, I can often find myself juggling multiple things at the same time. One Tuesday afternoon not too far back, shortly after we had our chapel service, I was trying to have some kids practice playing music, since for a while now I’ve been working on raising up worship leaders among the kids so that there will be people to keep playing music after I leave. When I have the kids practice music (especially the keyboard), I usually have been playing along with them on the guitar to help them keep a beat and concentrate on the song. However, I have been letting them play on their own more and more so that they learn how to not be dependent upon me—which is really the whole idea, since my hope is that they won’t need me in order to have music in church.

Cristo Me Ama en Capilla Sept 2017
Levi, playing music with some of the kids at Castillo Fuerte during chapel

So, at the exact same time that I was letting kids practice on their own, I also was trying to get some good bonding with the youth groups kids, since they usually get out of school around that time and start showing up at Castillo Fuerte. And, of course, I was also trying to get stuff ready for our youth group meeting later that night…as well as a few other things. While the kids were being watched by the Castillo Fuerte staff, I ran to a nearby fruit vendor to get some food to prepare for theyouth group meeting. After getting some food and then walking back into the Castillo Fuerte building, I soon had a big smile on my face. I saw three or four kids huddled together, playing some of the musical instruments, while at least a couple of other kids were gathering around, singing with them. As they worked together to make music, they were keeping a great beat and were hitting all of the right notes! So I could see that they are already able (at least with that song) to play music without my help.

Of course, in addition to all of my time spent helping them get better at playing music for church, I’ve also still been greatly enjoying the large amount of time that I get to spend teaching the Bible, including the Bible study for our youth group. Probably for at least seven months now (if not more!), the youth group kids have been pleading with me almost every week for us to talk about the book of Revelation (these kids, at least in that way, aren’t that different from kids in the United States!), since they had obviously poked into before and were fascinated by all of the weird things going on inside of the book. However, not wanting them to simply get lost in weird stuff that they weren’t quite ready for, I kept the study on some more basic stuff (like the Gospel of Mark and the book of Acts), even as they kept pleading and pleading with me.

David and Goliath Sept 2017
Levi, teaching on the David and Goliath story during one of the Friday afternoon Bible classes at Castillo Fuerte.

Finally, this past week, I realized that I would really need to get started on Revelation if I wanted to get through it before my internship here in Peru ends in December. Thankfully, I’ve read through Revelation with people on other occasions, so instead of getting lost in all of the weird things going on or getting confused by all of the questions that people ask (e.g. what exactly will the end of the world, and the steps leading up to that, look like?), we were able to stay focused on what (or really, who) the book is all about anyway: Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, who will one day soon come back for us to take us home to be with him for forever. And, as we pulled in different passages from the Bible that are connected with Revelation, the Scriptures began to speak for themselves, and Jesus’ centrality in the book became clearer and clearer.

With my DCE internship here in Peru ending in just a few months, and with all of the pledges and donations that I have received being more than enough, I’m not seeking any new financial support. However, I would definitely appreciate your prayers as I seek discernment and wisdom from God as to where he is calling me after I finish my time here in Peru. Thanks for much for supporting me during my time here in Peru!