There is something deeply refreshing about a simple ministry approach in area that has a deep need for the gospel.
This thought was one of my greatest takeaways from my time in Cusco, Peru last week as we visited with our Servant Life mission partners. I was taken aback by the beauty of Cusco itself with its impressive view of the Andes mountains as well as its rich cultural history, but the majority of our time was spent about 30 minutes outside of the city at a strategically located ministry center near many small villages.(The facilities here are awesome, by the way; see the pictures below.)
The first day we were there we met a man named Freddie, along with his wife and children. Freddie has only been a Christ-follower for five months through our local ministry efforts, but that has not stopped him from serving the Lord faithfully. After being baptized, he then offered up his home to host a house church of about 15 people. His family is walking through a difficult time as his youngest daughter has a heart condition that needs expensive surgery, but he looked at us with a big smile on his face as he told us that he wants to become a pastor. This January, Freddie will be part of a pastoral training seminar with our team. What a profound picture of simple faith and genuine joy in the Lord. And Freddie represents just one of many people who have to come to know the Lord through ministry efforts in the nearby villages that our teams will be serving in.
We learned that there are more than 2,000 small communities surrounding the outskirts of Cusco, and less than a handful of healthy churches to minister to these people. In a country where many people know about God and are happy to talk about God, a shockingly small number of people actually trust in Christ for salvation like Freddie has done. The need for Christ could scarcely be greater. Therefore, the missionaries we partner with on the ground have one simple goal: to see healthy house churches planted and multiplied. In order to accomplish this, two things have to happen: people must trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and pastors must be raised up to lead the people.
This is about as simple of an approach to missions as you can get, but it’s also an extremely healthy missional strategy because it’s reproducible. House churches don’t rely on expensive buildings being constructed, and house churches create a meeting space that is very indigenous and natural for Peruvian believers. This simple model remains faithful to what we see in Scripture and allows evangelism and discipleship to remain at the forefront of missional strategy above all else.
With all this in mind, it might not surprise you to hear that one of the main things short term teams will do is share the gospel. When American teams come down, local Peruvians are more open-minded and receptive to hearing the gospel message. Short term teams can not only split up and cover more ground going door to door and village to village, but they are also sometimes able to reach people that the local ministry team might not have a chance to reach. As we visit homes and invite people to join us for house church that night, some locals are intrigued enough to give it a shot and attend for the first time. Teams who are well-trained will also have opportunities to preach in house churches and possibly be part of pastoral training.
While all of this ministry is going on outside of Cusco, about 4-5 hours away there is similar ministry being done at an orphanage near Cachora. In addition to being able to teach, love, and encourage the children at the orphanage, teams here will also do evangelism and outreach to help plant house churches. Cachora is situated in a valley with more than 30,000 people who need to hear the gospel. Thinking about such a large need for the gospel, I was reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” May the local church rise up to take the gospel near and far to those who need it.
In addition to evangelism, church planting, and orphanage ministry, the missionary team in Peru has also developed the Life and Work program. This is an opportunity for recent high school graduates to spend six months in an intensive training program to not only study the Bible, but also to develop helpful life skills such as training in hospitality. This past year, at the end of the six months, all ten of these students were extremely qualified in the hospitality industry, and all of them received well-paying jobs working at hotels. But they are not only set up to work—they are set up to succeed in life. Three of the ten students were Christians at the beginning of the program, but by the end of the six months the other seven students had been baptized as well. They have now been placed in different house churches around Cusco to help strengthen the house church movement.
This region of Peru is not only marked by huge potential for gospel impact, but also represents a great opportunity for a cultural and historical experience. Both Cusco and Cachora are within close proximity to Machu Picchu, one of the “7 wonders” of the modern world. Teams are able to take a day trip to see this beautiful stone city built by the Incas more than 500 years ago—a truly once in a lifetime opportunity for most people.
If you are looking for a short-term trip with highly relational ministry and opportunities for evangelism, as well as strong connection to local churches, look no further than Cusco, Peru. Very few locations offer such an incredible opportunity to respond to God’s Great Commission while also exploring the depths of God’s grand creation. Contact our team about to learn more about how you can join us in Peru.
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