FORO Weekend

This past weekend has been super-busy for us missionaries here in Peru. We are currently hosting our semi-annual “FORO”, which is a conference for all of our major partners who are supporting us financially and spiritually. Besides just updating them on what we’ve been up to, we’ve also been having taking them around to some really special events within our churches here.

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Carolina, one of our Castillo Fuerte staff, was confirmed in the Lutheran church in the Saturday night service at our church in La Victoria. 
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Pastor Eddie Hosch helps to lead the opening service for our new church plant in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho in Lima. We’ve had a Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in San Juan de Lurigancho for about a year now, so this was a major step in adding to the mercy and Gospel work being done in that community.
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During the opening service in San Juan de Lurigancho, Pastor Eddie baptized a number of children.
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The different families who had children baptized, as well as our missionary pastors here and a couple of pastors visiting for the FORO.
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Pastor Joshua Gale preaching during the service in San Juan de Lurigancho
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Pastor Eddie and his family. Pastor Eddie is the main pastor at the new church plant in San Juan de Lurigancho
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Some of our Castillo Fuerte staff at the opening service in San Juan de Lurigancho

Levi Karth–November Video Blog!!!!

Hey everybody!!! It’s that time of month again!!! Check out my latest video blog episode, seeing what the kids from our Castillo Fuerte (Mighty Fortress) mercy ministry in La Victoria think about our program for them:

Why Do You Like Castillo Fuerte

Also, check out the story below from my latest newsletter:

The bright, springtime sunlight beamed through the large, open doorway that led out to the street in front of our Castillo Fuerte mercy center. The noise and commotion from the mechanic shops across the street, the loud barks from the stray dogs that passed by, and the bustle of the passing cars were drowned out by the many voices of the children, as they sought their seat on one of the couches or chairs. As they continued chatting, one of them began to start passing out some songbooks. While the kids flipped through the songbooks, searching for their favorite one (so that they could then suggest it), I whisked out a guitar and began tuning it. At the same time, a youth and one of the kids pulled out a couple of cajóns—a classic Peruvian box drum with a large, circular hole in the front (see picture above). Once they had sat down on their respective cajóns and had warmed themselves up, I quickly began strumming away while calling out the song number, and the kids soon joined us with their singing.

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Playing the cajón

This same scene has happened almost daily for me in the past few months. Ever since I got to Peru, I have begun to realize how God can use the musical abilities that he has given me. I’ve starting using them to help with the spiritual formation of many of the people that I am discipling here. The very first week I got here I saw the need to brush up on my guitars skills (an instrument that I had barely touched since I was in high school) when I saw that there was no organized music ministry in our church plant in La Victoria, and even less in the mercy center that is connected to the church there. Thus, I began playing guitar there, at first in just the church service, but it soon found its way also into the mercy ministry there as we began singing more and more with the kids.

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Playing in chapel

God has been using this part of my ministry first of all to invigorate his people to praise and glorify him. In addition to that, I’ve been focusing on using our songs as a chance to teach the kids that I interact with every week. For example, in a culture where people often hold grudges for a lifetime, one of the songs that we sing speaks about the forgiveness and unity that we have as the Body of Christ. It goes something like this, though in Spanish:

We are all members of the same body.

We are all one in Christ.

When someone sins we forgive them,

Just as the Father forgave us.

Of course, the goal isn’t to simply teach these kids different facts about Jesus. The goal is to see the Gospel take effect in their lives, that they would come to have faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who suffered, died, and rose again to give them (and all people) forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life with him. Music is one of the many tools to help people learn about this Gospel message, as well as a way to help them grow in that faith and continue in a life-long relationship with God.

There’s lots of joys as I continue to find old hymns that I grew up singing (e.g. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”) that are also in Spanish. And I also have been using the Spanish skills that God has given me to translate some songs on my own, as well as write a few new songs (e.g. the song above, based on Ephesians 4 & 5).

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Levi, with some of the kids from the Castillo Fuerte mercy house in La Victoria

It’s also been exciting to see how God has used this music ministry to gave me chances to spend more time with people connected to our church, as God uses me to raise them up as musicians in the church, so that they can continue doing the work that God has started through me and the other missionaries here.

Thanks so much for all of your continued support as you keep me in your prayers! Us missionaries here could always use some prayers as the work of sharing Jesus Christ with the people of Peru continues.

The Work Continues…

Here’s just a few photos from the work that I’ve been doing this week at the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria (in Lima, Peru)…as we continue to share the grace and mercy of God with the people of Peru, helping them along in this life with our mercy ministries, while also striving to see them gain eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus…

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Enjoying lunch in our “Comedor Popular” that offers lunch to the kids at a very reduced cost

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Excited to be on camera
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Dashing upstairs for the Bible class with Levi

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Reading along in the Bible while hearing God’s Word proclaimed in the daily chapel service

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Praying for one of the students and her family

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Homework time!

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Someone has a fun school project!!!

Día de la Canción Criolla

Today, at the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria, we celebrated “El Día de la Canción Criolla”, a Peruvian holiday (that is the same day as Halloween) that recognizes “Criolla” music. Besides simply celebrating some Peruvian culture, this was a great opportunity to bring in a lot of the parents of the kids that we work with, so that they could better see what Castillo Fuerte is doing to help their kids. Also, we had our Saturday night church service in the middle of the event, so a lot of people got to get a taste of the Gospel, hearing about what Jesus Christ did for us to bring us the hope of eternal life. Of course, the more important thing is not that people just come to our big events, but rather that they continue to come and grow in their faith walk with God, which is why our relational ministry to these people continues even after we have a big event like this.

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Castillo Fuerte director Jeancarlos acts as MC
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Jeancarlos and Levi lead the crowd in some songs
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You can’t forget about the DJ!
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Omar, one of the Castillo Fuerte employees, shows his stuff as he sings a “Criolla” song
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Pastor Eddie preaching during the church service
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Pastor Eddie giving a blessing during the church service

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Sharing some food after the church service
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I actually remembered to get some pictures of myself with the kids!!!

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Doesn’t Have to be Flashy…

Mission work (no matter whether you’re a “professional” missionary or simply someone being used by God to share his Gospel with the world) often isn’t about the flashy stories of huge events (e.g. 75,000 baptisms in one day or 92 million poor families helped in one day). Often times it’s the day-to-day discipleship work that includes a bunch of sharing God’s Word and a lot of simply building relationships with people…including the kids in our mercy ministry programs…as you can see from the pictures below (all taken today)…

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Playing in the park
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Jump rope time!!!!!
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Conquering the monkey bars
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Getting serious with the jump rope
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Being chased in a game of Tag…even as I try to get a good picture
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Waiting in line to get lunch
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Jeancarlos, Director of the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House in La Victoria, getting kids signed in
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Lunch time!
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Deaconess Caitlin Worden talking with one of our Peruvian teachers
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Following along in the Bible while listening in the daily chapel service

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Levi Karth–October 2016 Video Blog!!!!!

Hey everybody! Check out my latest video blog episode!

Oct 2016 Vlog

And here´s a story from my latest newsletter:

The cold night air of the desert crept into the hotel lobby where I was sitting, as I patiently waited. The chilly air, combined with the darkness of the night, made the idea of simply curling up in my sleeping bag up in my hotel room very attractive, especially since Pastor Herb and I had already had a very long day. However, the two of us had one last task that night—teaching the basics of the faith to a couple of kids that previous Lutheran missionaries had baptized years ago.

Pastor Herb Burch and I were in the small village of Lunahuana, which is about a 2 ½ hour drive from Lima, Peru, where we live. Not too long ago, there had been a few Lutheran missionaries living in the area of Lunahuana, sharing the light of the Gospel in an otherwise very dark place. Long-story-short, the missionaries had simply moved their focus more onto Lima, and so now, a few years later, Pastor Herb and I have been reconnecting with some of our key people in that area, in part by teaching their children the basics of the faith. Due to our work in Lima, we’ve only been able to get out there once a month.

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Despite being quite tired from the drive through the desert, both Pastor Herb and I were delighted that one of the families was able to meet up with us in the hotel lobby, as they had been faithfully doing for a few months. We studied together the meanings of a couple of the Ten Commandments, talking about the deeper meaning behind the commandments. The two boys were yawning and struggling to keep their eyes fully open when we finally finished our time together with a hymn, which I got to play on my guitar.

The next morning, after some brainstorming and prayer, Pastor Herb and I headed off to the neighboring village of Lucumo, where a different family lived. Crossing over the bridge that loomed over the gushing Cañete River, we drove past a series of orchards and otherfarmlands. While Lunahuana in the past few years has primarily turned into a tourist destination, Lucumo has remained a quiet, small farming community, lying on the opposite side of the Cañete River.

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Pastor Herb and I had soon found the right path toward the family’s property, and when we had finally disembarked from Herb’s van and looked around, we ran into one of the youngest daughters of the family. Still being just a bit too young to go to school, she was simply wandering through the orchards. She was soon leading us to her home, taking us past small groves and over a small irrigation ditch. Arriving at her home, we were able to talk with her mother a bit about plans for future visits, while also getting to simply spend some time with them.

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After our visit with them, as Pastor Herb and I headed back through the groves, we ran into the family’s neighbors, who were also farmers. Pastor Herb and I were soon sitting on the ground near them, sharing a Bible passage with them and explaining who Jesus really is and how we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in him.

Currently, my trips to Lunahuana are just a tiny part of my work here in Peru, and only time will tell how much Lunahuana will be a part of our overall work. Either way, God continues to work through me and my fellow missionaries, as we continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of Peru. Whether it be spontaneously talking with a couple of farmers in an orchard in a remote village, or teaching a Bible class to kids in the concrete jungles of Lima, Peru, the goal is the same—to see more and more people come to have saving faith in Jesus Christ, who gave up his life to give us forgiveness and eternal life.

‘Cause pictures are worth a thousand words…

Here’s just a few quick photos to highlight what’s been keeping me busy in the past few weeks, as I have been helping out with the work in the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House program in La Victoria:

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Kids in the daily Bible class, memorizing the books of the Bible, as they learn the overall story of God’s love for them
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Some of the kids at Castillo Fuerte, having lunch, as part of the afternoon activities, which I have found is one of the best ways to build relationships with these kids and continue to share God’s love with them

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After the afternoon chapel service at the Castillo Fuerte site in La Victoria

Castillo Fuerte Mercy Houses

Learn more about the mercy ministry being done in Lima, Peru through the Castillo Fuerte: Casa de Misericordia (Mighty Fortress: House of Mercy) program:

Castillo Fuerte Mercy Houses

Want to download this video so that you can share it with your church, friends, family, neighbors, boss, co-workers, elected representative, dentist, and all of those other amazing people that you know? Check out the video here at this link on Vimeo and hit the “download” button.

Levi Karth–September Video Blog!!!!

Hey everybody! Check out my latest video blog episode if you want an up-close look at the mercy work of our Castillo Fuerte Mercy House program in the district of La Victoria in Lima:

Sept 2016 Vlog

Also, here’s a story (from my latest newsletter) about my work in Lima:

Dodging in and out of the hectic, weaving traffic, Pastor Herb Burch navigated the van that we were in past busy intersection after busy intersection until we finally got to the familiar street of Aviacn. As Pastor Herb made a turn onto Aviación and pulled up to yet another busy traffic light, and while the electric train on the track above zipped by, I glanced at my watch: it was 3:39pm. “We’ve got plenty of time!” I said to my fellow missionary, Deaconess Caitlin Worden. “We’ve got 6 minutes! We’ll for sure be able to get to Castillo Fuerte in time, before the kids’ Bible class starts!”

The three of us—Pastor Herb, Deaconess Caitlin, and I—had earlier that Tuesday afternoon already made a visit to one of other Castillo Fuerte sites in the district of Chorrillos, in the southern part of the city of Lima. Our Castillo Fuerte—Mercy House program is our mercy ministry here in Peru, through which we share God’s mercy with people by helping them with their physical needs, and through that we also have opportunities to share the Gospel with them. Our new and developing program in Chorrillos is right now a daycare that we run, providing childcare for single mothers who are developing their job skills through a different organization, Krochet Kids. Our program in La Victoria, which we were about to arrive at, is our oldest Castillo Fuerte site, and its main focus is on helping children with their educational needs. In addition to the classes and homework time that we offer to the kids, we also are exposing them to God’s Word through a daily chapel service and a Bible class.

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Chapel Service at Castillo Fuerte in La Victoria

Although we didn’t quite tuck and roll when Pastor Herb pulled up his van in front of the Castillo Fuerte site in La Victoria, we definitely scampered out of the van, as Caitlin hurried upstairs to the classroom to teach her 15 minute class to the younger kids. It also just happened to be one of those days where I got to sub for the older kids’ class, so I soon found myself in action, standing in front of a bunch of elementary to middle school age kids. While utilizing a whiteboard and a puppet that I always try to have with me (puppets really help when teaching kids), I asked some questions to the kids, helping them understand more about the work of the Holy Spirit.

Soon, Caitlin and I had both ended our respective Bible classes, and we all met downstairs, as Pastor Herb led chapel service that day. After I finished the chapel service by leading the kids in a Christian song, most of the kids started to head off home, while a few stayed behind to work on homework, being tutored by the hired staff of Castillo Fuerte.

Glancing into the homework room and seeing one of the younger girls by herself, playing with a set of dominoes, I swooped over and soon joined her in playing a few games. As the homework time came to a close and we had to stop playing Jenga, the girl explained that she wasn’t sure what to do, because she usually came with her older sister, who could walk home with her. However, that day her older sister was busy and not there, yet she herself couldn’t cross the street by herself to get back to where her parents worked. Deaconess Caitlin and I soon agreed to walk her home so she wouldn’t have to cross the streets by herself.

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Playing Jenga

Before heading back to our Castillo Fuerte site, Caitlin swung by a restaurant and got some take-out chicken and French fries. Just that night we were having our first ever youth group meeting for the church in La Victoria, and the food was to be used for our fellowship time with them.

The sun was beginning to set when the first few youth showed up, and we were soon gathered around a small table, sharing the food and telling jokes. After the meal, we moved into Bible study, during which we focused on our brokenness and sinfulness as sinful humans, but also how the grace of God that comes to us because of Christ’s death and resurrection brings us the promise of forgiveness and of eternal life with God.

By the time we had finished the youth group meeting, washed the dishes, and escorted a couple of the youth home, it was already around 9pm. Though not all of my days here in Peru are quite so hectic as my Tuesdays tend to be, with all of my work my hope is to see people come to learn about God and the grace that he has for us through his Son, Jesus. This includes our times teaching and explaining the Bible. This also includes doing simple things like playing a game with a child or walking someone home, as I develop a relationship with that person, and through that relationship share Jesus with them.