Here is a video with pictures and short captions to help give you a better idea of what church planting for us looks like… Enjoy!
Here is a video with pictures and short captions to help give you a better idea of what church planting for us looks like… Enjoy!
This Sunday, January 12, 2014 I will be sharing during the early part of both the 9am and 11am services about my time serving as a church planting missionary in Arequipa, Peru. I will be at Northlake Christian Church, 19029 North Road, Bothell, Washington 98012.
You are all invited to come and hear about what God has done and continues to do in Arequipa, Peru. I understand, that many will be unable to attend because of other commitments, but I wanted to make sure to invite you all. If you are unable to attend, but would still like to get together another time you can contact me and we can coordinate a time. I look forward to seeing you all here in the next couple of weeks.
Hard to believe we are already here in the final days of 2013 and looking ahead to 2014. Being home this last week has reminded me how removed I have been from the last 2 1/2 years here in the states. I knew it would be like this, but knowing is different than experiencing it. The last two and a half years have been a whirlwind of an adventure and an amazing time of seeing God at work, but I have missed out on a lot here. I have been in my own little world called Peru and coming back is another experience in and of itself. God, in his foreknowledge has had a perfect plan through all of this and his timing is perfect. As hard as it was/is to leave my friends, ministry, and life in Peru, this is where I need to be now.
Final Sunday my team and I receiving our recognition plaques from Extreme Nazarene.
In October of this year we discovered that my mom has breast Cancer. I was slightly devastated when I first found out, it was hard being so far away from family, but my family and I have found our strength, hope, and joy in Christ during these trials. My teammates and church family in Peru supported me during those first few weeks of confusion as I reminded myself of the need to place it all in God’s hands. We (as a family) are trusting in God and in his complete healing in her life, praying that he is glorified through every trial. We have already seen several miracles since she has started her chemo treatments with the shrinking of the tumor and only minimal side-effects to the chemo. It is in God’s providence that I was also able to complete my contract and ministry in Peru while still having the opportunity to come home and be with my family during this time. As much as I want to return to the missions field, I am confident that God has provided me this opportunity to be home and to be with my family during this time.
Now, I am figuring out trying to figure out life stateside as I settle in. towards the end of January I will be continuing my online classes for my Biblical studies degree and will be looking for a job where I can use my Spanish language skills. If you hear of any bilingual positions, please let me know. There are still lots of things to do, getting plugged back in at church and connecting with my many friends and supporters that I may or may not have seen when I was back for three short weeks last Christmas. If you would like to get together please contact me via facebook or e-mail.
Although I plan of being home for a while I am also planning to continue working with Extreme Nazarene as a translator this next year working with the Extreme Real Team doing workshops and encouraging others who are serving in the same capacity I was this past year. I have currently signed a one-year contract and will be working on an as-needed basis. This next spring/summer I will be traveling to Ecuador to work directly with Sheli the Extreme Real Director assisting in workshops with the three teams that are on the field as well as possible 40 day participants. I am excited about this opportunity to serve missionaries in this way as I found the support from The Extreme Real Team extremely beneficial for me as an individual and for our team on the missions field. This is part of the focus on caring for the missionaries on the field making sure they are healthy spiritually, emotionally, relationally, etc. I know the experience I gain from working with Sheli will also help me to be prepared for the things God has called me to after this and I am really excited for this new opportunity to be involved in missions from a support role for this next year.
Good-byes at the airport
What this means for my supporters: I know many of you are probably wondering what this means for you as a supporter. For one, I ask all of you to continue to keep me, my family, my church family and leaders in Peru and specifically my mom Karen in your prayers. I for one have a lot of adjustments to make… living at home, living in the states, job stuff, it’s a lot at once and many returning from the missions field face reverse culture-shock as they re-adjust to their home culture. Also our church plant in Peru church is adjusting to us not being there and the leaders are working with the new pastor and his wife (Herman and Diana), its all good, but it’s a lot of change at once.
As for those who have been supporting me financially, Thank You! None of the amazing testimonies and transformed lives would never have happened if you had not acted in obedience to God and faithfully and sacrificially given to me and my team during the past 27months. We as the body of Christ have been serving in Peru the past 2 years and we have seen the body of Christ strengthened through your obedience.Thank You for being willing!
As I mentioned before I will continue to work with Extreme Nazarene, but will not need the same level of support as before. If you would like to continue to donate monthly so that I will have that money available when I need to pay for airfare and other traveling expenses when I go to Ecuador with the Extreme Real Team in the coming months that is great, but if you feel that you want to do something else and just want to be notified of other opportunities in the future that is ok too. Some of you committed for 27 months at the beginning of my term and put a final date on your credit card donation while others still may have no clue what they did 2 years ago. If you need to know the status of your donation please contact me. I can also get you the number you need to call if it has not already been canceled. Whether you decide to continue to support me monthly, have already fulfilled your commitment and/or just want to know the status of your donation, I would love to hear from you and get together to share with you more about the last two years and how your support has made a difference.
I will continue to blog this next year, maybe not as often, but I will continuing to keep you updated as to where God is leading me, and what I am doing as well as any updates I receive from the church in Peru. Thank you once again for all you have done for me the past two years. I have had such a reliable, prayerful, spirit-filled team supporting me stateside and I can never thank you enough for your partnership in spreading the good-news in Peru.
Not sure if I ever posted a picture of my fried “cuy” guinea pig lunch.
As I have been reflecting on my time here, I have realized the amazing privilege I have had to serve in this cross-cultural experience and to witness the lives that have been transformed through the message of Jesus Christ. Before I came here, I knew nothing about Peru had never considered missions here. I honestly wasn’t that interested, but in a two-month time frame and a willing and obedient heart God totally changed my perspective, and my world. I still wasn’t sure… it was a quick turn-around, I just got home from Mexico, and they (Extreme) wanted me on the field by October 1st. At this time, my grandma suddenly passed away, I had to fly to Tennessee for an interview, I then had to have almost all my finances pledged before I left and I told God, if this is from you, you have to make this happen. It’s impossible. Yet within two weeks I had enough money pledged to buy my plane ticket, and I was off. He made it perfectly clear that this is where I was suppose to be.
Now, here I am 2 years and 3 months later reflecting on all that God has done. I can’t even begin to explain all that has happened in the last couple years. I have had ups and downs, Have experienced God’s Grace and Power in new ways, and have been blessed beyond measure.
-I have been blessed through new friendships with my team, with contacts, and the many new friends I have made while here.
-I have been encouraged and strengthened by the things I have learned about God, Missions, discipleship, church, and leadership.
-I have been privileged to have been a part of seeing so many lives transformed, wounds healed, salvations and new life in Christ, powerful testimonies, baptisms, leaders raised up, the start of a new church family, and most importantly, people living for Christ!
There is so much to share. So many amazing testimonies, so many lessons learned… So if you get a blank stare when I return and you ask “How was Peru?”, it’s not for lack of something to share, its an overwhelming amount of stories, information, and life experiences that I don’t know where to start, or how long you have to listen.
As hard as it is to leave I am confident that God will continue his work and his purpose in these people and his city. Like one of our contacts learned through our time here, “God is more faithful than you!” As much as we want to be that person, the lesson of dependence on God and not on a pastor, missionary, or leader is much more important. This is exactly what we wanted them to learn! In the lives of some we have sown seed, in others we have helped cultivate, and in others we have seen the fruit-but we know that God’s work will continue in each life with or without us.I was called for a time, and now its someone else’s turn. Honestly, I am a little sad. Peru has been my home the last 2+ years, these are my friends and family… but at the same time I am at peace and am confident of God’s perfect plan.
On Monday night we had our final meeting with our leaders. It was a special time as we celebrated a (late) Thanksgiving dinner, and then we missionaries took time to wash our disciples/leaders feet and pray for them individually as one final act of love for them. Almost all of us were crying by the end, but it was a special time for me to serve and demonstrate my love for them one last time. Its bittersweet watching them take over all of the roles of the church as we realize we really aren’t needed. But that has been our goal since the beginning and Monday night proved that we have reached that goal.
So now we are in the final phase. Good-bye visits, packing up the house, garage sale, and cleaning. Our final Good-bye’s with the church will be on Sunday. It is crazy how fast the time is going by this last week. Please pray for ALL of us in this transition period.
I will save the “What’s Next” blog post for the plane ride home.
Final photo with our leaders. They are in front, we (missionaries) are in back.
I hope you all have a Wonderful Christmas! I Know I am looking forward to being with my family!
Baptisms Trip to Juli to visit Giovanna and her family
The guys I play soccer with on Saturdays My friend Marjhori who was baptized
Here we are in the final days here in Peru. There is excitement about seeing family and sadness as I think about leaving friends and “family” here in Peru. Going back and living stateside is going to be a huge change for all of us.
Last week was our final retreat for the year, and my last retreat with our church. As tiring as they can be, it is amazing to see each person grow through their personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Each person has an amazing testimony and I am always so blessed and encouraged to spend time with each person there. One of the stories is from a young man named Facho (far left). We have known Facho for at least a year and a half and for most of that time he didn’t believe in God. He has had a hard life, his mom being sick most of his life, but with her recent passing he has finally turned to God. He has always doubted and had lots of hard questions but he finally decided to come to the retreat, and God has radically changed his life. He is committed, passionate, and ready to share his faith. He going to be an awesome leader for the kingdom of God. He was one who was baptized on Sunday, but there were at least 7 others. One of the amazing things is that this is our first Sunday with our leaders helping to baptize their disciples and we are seeing this process of discipleship and leadership development being multiplied and the gospel being spread here in Arequipa! So exciting!
Immediately following our church retreat, our team had a 3 day retreat “Extreme Real” with Extreme’s well-being team. It was basically a debrief/preparation for the next phase. It was a really powerful time and I was just reminded of what an awesome team I have here. They really are family. Saying good-bye to my partner Brenda is going to be the hardest. We are so opposite in so many ways, but just what the other needed. God has truly blessed me with such an amazing woman of God to be my partner during these past two years. I have learned so much from her, and I am so excited to see where God leads her next.
As we are phasing out more and more each day we are also preparing to finish well without any regrets. Brenda and I have compiled a list of over 30 people that we need to visit before we leave, and it is going to be so hard to say goodbye to every single one of them. Some are leaders, some are disciples, some come now and again, some God is still working in their lives… but I know God will be faithful to each and everyone continuing to draw him to himself.
<—- Tuesday 4am Prayer
Brenda and I are planning on visiting a contact this Friday/Saturday who moved about 6 hours from Arequipa. Pray for our travel and for our time with Giovanna that we will be able to encourage her in her faith.
In my next post I will share a bit about some of my future plans as I prepare to like stateside for little while, but please keep our team, our church, our leaders and our new Pastor and his family in your prayers. There are lots more transitions and we know the Devil is doing all he can to divide the body of Christ.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. This year I am so very thankful for the opportunity I have had to be here, I have seen God work in amazing ways in my life and in the lives of others through these past two years. I am also thankful for each one of you have that have have supported me willingly, faithfully, and prayerfully during the last 2+ years. Finally, I am thankful for an All-powerful God who has filled me with his peace and joy and who cares for my family even better than I can.
Welcome to the Open Door Church and our new church building! We have been praying about this for a long time, declaring in the name of Jesus that we would see the funds come in, and the work finished and last week the 20th of October we celebrated the inauguration of our church building with over 200 people. We almost didn’t fit!
It was an amazing Sunday with many new faces as well as contacts who had attended our church almost a year ago. It was a beautiful celebration. Our new church building is where there used to be the neighbors house and our Patio. It is “L” shaped with the Sanctuary in the back. It is so much less dusty and a lot cooler than our other temporary building. The door on the 2nd floor to the left is the entrance to our house where we are living now.
Our next-door neighbor came for the first time last week and accepted Christ, then this last week she brought her kids and husband, saying the music she has been hearing has touched her life and drawn her here. So excited to see our neighbors responding to God because many are very strong Catholics, who follow traditions more than God.
We had over 50 kids on Inauguration Sunday!
During the last few weeks we have been going through the 10 Commandments, and last week we preached about the commandment to not commit adultery and with that we did a purity pact with over 15 singles, both young and old, who have committed or re-committed to keep themselves pure for their future spouse.
One of our contacts asked me to be her madrina, its like a godparent, or someone who you want to support you in this decision. I was privileged to stand up there with my friend Yesica as she commits her life to Jesus, and to keep herself pure until her wedding day. Yesica is also one of our up and coming leaders, and we continue to see growth and maturity in her spiritual walk. It is so exciting!
We also presented to our church the new Pastor Herman, his wife Diana, and their 4 kids. They will begin preaching every other week and officially stepping into the role as pastors in December. They are an amazing couple with a huge heart to love, serve, and reach the people around them.
Now that we have our own church building, and a Pastoral family it is all becoming real that we are finishing up. Starting in November, several team members and I will be stepping down from the leadership of the church and will work under national leaders supporting them, and helping them as we prepare for them to take over all the responsibilities. My schedule and tasks are about to change drastically, and it is going to be a weird transition, but also really healthy for our church. Brenda and I had a goal of raising up 8 leaders with Casas Abiertas (Life groups, cell groups, etc.) and right now we have 8 who have finished leadership classes or are almost done and are taking over casas abiertas. So exciting to see these 8 leaders stepping up! Several of them are helping with the vigil we have on the 31st and really this project is theirs!
Finally I just want to say Thank You! Northlake Christian Church is named as one of our supporting churches who helped in the construction of this church. Without their support this celebration would not have been possible. Thank you to my supporters who have sent me and for helping us plant the Open Door church in the heart of the city of Arequipa. Thank you for your continued prayers, and for partnering with us in spreading the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth!
Finally pray with us that we would finish well, and that the devil would not be able to get in and manipulate things. We want to finish strong, united in the love of Christ and in the power of his blood. Leaving leaders filled with the Holy Spirit and passionate about carrying on His vision for the church!
We finished up another retreat today with 14 people, and it is just one of those days when I am reminded of the reason I am here. It is one of those days when every sacrifice I have made to be here, every struggle I have gone through, every moment I have felt alone, and every moment I have spent praying 100% worth it. Listening to each of them, knowing their stories, and seeing how God has been working in their lives during the past two years I have been here has filled me with such peace and contentment. The idea of leaving in December is heartbreaking. Many of the people in this past retreat are not new to our church, they are people we have known at least 6 months to 1 1/2 years, they have flitted in and out, and we are finally seeing growth. I want to share a few brief testimonies to help you understand what I mean.
Samuel’s Story- In the first several months of our planting the church I ran to a local corner store to buy a few things before church. The youth behind the counter asked if I was Mexican, and that led to me explaining where I was from, why I was here, and an invitation to our church service a few hours later. He promised to come, and then never showed up. Surprisingly, a few weeks later he showed up, later he accepted Christ and from there he sporadically came to church and Casas Abiertas, sometimes disappearing for months at a time. We encouraged him to come to a retreat, to take discipleship classes, and he never did. Honestly we had kind of given up on him, but a few weeks ago he showed up at church again and then decided to come to the retreat. God has totally changed his heart. This morning we had a really good chat at the retreat, he asked how I decided to be a missionary, and why, and a lot of other questions, saying he is feeling God doing something in him. He also decided to get baptized today, and during his testimony shared that he feels called to share with people about Salvation. It was so amazing, and so encouraging! God used one small encounter at a corner store to transform life, all I had to do was invite him, opening up that door, and God has done the rest.
Lisbeth’s Story– Lisbeth is one of our contacts we have known for a while now. She used to be a part of a Charismatic Catholic group, but stopped attending after she fell into sin and drifted away from God. She was living for herself and her own desires while knowing in the back of her mind that the way she was living was wrong. Brenda and I have been meeting with her regularly for over 6 months, encouraging her in her faith, helping her to take the steps necessary to change her situation and live for Christ, free from the chains of sin. It has been a long, hard, and emotional road, but Lisbeth has found forgiveness and new life in Christ. She is walking in her new-found identity, confident of God’s love and with a desire to reach others with the truth. She has been trying to attend a retreat for months now, but every time her workplace refused to give her time off. The morning we left for the retreat she called crying because her supervisor would not give her permission to leave, but through prayer and the decision to put God first, she was granted permission at the last moment and arrived just in time to start with the rest of the group. I think this weekend was just what she needed to break the final ties and old habits and surrender everything to Christ. She also was baptized this afternoon, and I am filled with joy and excitement to see what God is going to do next in her life. This young woman is filled with the joy of the Lord and has a real hunger and thirst for God.
Ralph’s Story- Honestly, I don’t know Ralph that well. He is one of the young men we invited off the street to join us in our picture scavenger hunt evangelism event in February. He came, accepted Christ, and then sporadically came to church from time to time. The guys tried following up, but he never appeared that interested. Then this last week he signed up for the retreat. Honestly, most of us didn’t really remember who he was. He is quiet and reserved… but when he shared his testimony today it was powerful. He shared how he always looked to fill the holes in his life, but never found fulfillment. He never realized that the love of God could fill any and every hole he had. He encouraged other to go to the retreat and has decided to get baptized as well. His powerful testimony makes me want to stay longer to see how God is going to use Him and many others to expand his kingdom as they grow and mature in their faith.
Fernando, Lupe, and Melizza– Fernando, one of our contacts and now leaders attended one of our retreats in February. Since that point his life has radically changed and he has surrendered everything to Christ. His desire since that retreat is that his family would go, specifically his mom Lupe. His mom is by tradition Catholic, and His new-found faith has at times been a point of conflict between them. We have been in prayer with Fernando, visiting his mom, encouraging her to attend a retreat, but every time the retreat came around there was the excuse of work or health, etc. Honestly Brenda and I had almost given up, but not Fernando. Last week during 4am prayer he prayed that he would say to his mom “Your going to the retreat and that she would respond positively, for the first time”. The next morning he spoke to her and she responded Yes, saying she was going to bring Melizza, Fernando’s sister with her. Fernando told me he just about fell out of his chair. This past weekend at the retreat God opened his mother’s eyes. Helping her to find true peace that can only come through Christ. Little by little Christ is drawing Fernando’s family to himself. Fernando’s sister has historically been even more opposed to his Christian faith, and really didn’t want to be at the retreat, but God has begun doing his work, opening her eyes as she enjoyed the different themes and has a new-found interest in the things of God after being loved on and encouraged by each person at the retreat.
There are so many unique stories to share, so many lives transformed. This past weekend we have seen marriages restored, forgiveness found, restoration received, and hearts changed as God’s Holy Spirit was at work during the retreat. We also had one of the pastoral candidates with us this weekend as he ministered with us into the lives of these children of God. Today I realized just how much I want to see the continued growth of each one of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I know God has huge plans for each one of them and will continue to carry-on his work here in Arequipa even after we leave. I am just so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to serve the people of Peru and to see lives transformed. I just want to sing his praises for all he has done and is doing!
I recently had the opportunity to use a few of my free days to travel to Machu Picchu, celebrating my two year anniversary here in Peru. I had an amazing time and felt so refreshed after spending a few days outside of the city.
Finally, if you know me at all, you know I like animals. Last week I received a little lizard as a gift from my friend. It needs a name.