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…
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.
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)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 Aviación. 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.
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.
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.
Last weekend my fellow missionary, Deaconess Caitlin Worden, hosted a women’s retreat for all of the women in our different congregations in Lima. They met at our church in San Borja to spend time together in fellowship and in study of God’s Word.
And of course I had blast providing daycare for the moms during the 6-hour event, having some fun with the kids.
I’ve been busy in the last couple of weeks, helping out with the Castillo Fuerte Mercy House program that the Lutheran Mission here has in La Victoria (one of the districts in Lima). Here’s a few photos, highlighting what I’ve been helping with:
Hey everybody!!!! Check out this cool video that gives some of the juicy details about the connection that the Lutheran mission here in Peru has with another organization, Krochet Kids, which is helping reach out to single moms in need in Chorrillos (a district in Lima, Peru):