Last night at church we had a wonderful time. We had a young man who came to fill us in on a new project our denomination has begun - called Extreme Peru. There are many aspects involved, but the bottom line is that there will be new church plants in 7 major cities in Peru in the next few years.
Our denomination has been in Peru for many years - the northwest part of Peru has been growing Christians for these many years. The rest of Peru has not been infiltrated with our missions very much. That is about to change.
I was the missions president in our local church for 30 years, just retiring this past May. I was also on the district missions council, so have been deeply involved in missions most of my adult life. I at one time felt a call to be a missionary myself, and that is a long story which I may relate someday.
While I was the missions president, Work and Witness projects began to come to life - laymen and pastors would get together on a project somewhere in the world. The local church raised funds for the building project, the team members paid their own way, took vacation time, and went somewhere to minister - coming back never to be the same again.
I always wanted our church to be able to participate, but we were small and the amount of money seemed overwhelming in those years. Finally the day came when several folks from our church went with a district team. This was a way of getting our feet wet. As a matter of fact, it was a trip to Kenya, working on the college campus where Kevin eventually ended up, and where he met Sema. Then there was a trip to Venezuela. The bug had bit our church in a bit way - we would never be able to go back.
As I sat in church last night, I began "connecting the dots," and was amazed to realize all that God had put together that I can now see. A new pastor came - his son graduated with his master's degree in Spanish after spending time in Costa Rica. Trying to decide God's will for his next move, he went to Peru as a short term volunteer.
Our church went to northern Peru to build a church - DC and Kev were part of that team. Pastor's son was there to be part of the team. It wasn't long before pastor's son fell in love with a wonderful Peruvian young woman. She became a part of our church family, mostly from a distance, when they were married. Before long, they became commissioned career missionaries, and have since been sent to Argentina.
While they were still in Peru, our church took another trip down there - this time to Arequipa, way down in the south, close to the mountaintop Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
DC went on this trip as well, and their project was the beginning of a district center building. The team members fell in love with this place and decided to go back two years later, this past summer, to continue work on the project. Nothing had been done in the interim.
The group came back from that trip determined that this building would be completed sooner rather than later, and that we were the ones who should do it, since we had so much invested already. They presented the vision and passion to our congregation, and our pledges for mission giving this year were double the norm - more than half to go to Arequipa. The money was to go down there to buy supplies and pay locals to do the work - they can do it much more economically.
Enter Extreme Peru. A dynamic young man was scheduled to speak at our church last night. We were anxious to hear what was happening. Little did we know that Arequipa was scheduled as one of the projects for this new aggressive, assertive project. When the young man came to speak to us, he spent time with our new missions president, who was also the person who had arranged the two previous trips to Arequipa. She was able to fill in the blanks with this wonderful young guy as to our piece of this amazing puzzle.
Rewind to last July - the sad time in our church when Dan died - he was the son of our current president. Dan had been to Arequipa on the first trip and was scheduled to go the next month - instead he went to heaven. The building, when it is completed, will be named in his honor and is scheduled to be dedicated in August. Quite a few of our folks are planning to be there.
At Dan's funeral, a young woman from our church was irrevocably changed. She shared with us last night in the service that the affect Dan's legacy had on her has led her to a purpose in her life. She will be one of the young folks heading to Peru with Extreme Peru.
Do you see what I see? The hand of God has been on this entire project. There were times as missions president that I wondered why we kept concentrating on Peru. Why couldn't we go somewhere else where there were big needs? I see it all clearly now - God had a definite plan, and His will is being accomplished - in such an amazing way. If you're interested in more specifics, check it out here.