Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pachamama and Evangelism

Pachamama is a goddess worshiped by most people in the Andes. She is also known as Mother Earth and is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting. Pachamama is omnipresent and an independent deity who has her own self-sufficient and creative power to sustain life on this earth. People usually toast to her honor before every meeting or festivity by spilling a small amount of chicha on the floor, before drinking the rest. This toast is made almost every day. Pachamama has a special worship day called Martes de challa, when people bury food, throw candies, and burn incense. In some cases, people assist traditional priests in performing ancient rites to bring good luck by sacrificing guinea pigs or burning llama fetuses.
Rituals to honor Pachamama take place all year, but are especially abundant in August, right before the sowing season. Because August is the coldest month in the Andes, people feel more vulnerable to illness at this time. The Andean people believe that they must be on very good terms with nature in order to keep themselves and their crops and livestock healthy and protected. In order to do this, families perform cleansing rituals by burning plants wood and other items in order to scare evil spirits who are thought to be more abundant at this time.

In order to bribe Pachamama, people will call in someone to perform a ritual offering by digging a hole and putting the fetus of an animal in it. They cook and give food to the earth and ask a particular blessing from Pachamama.

This may seem bizarre and rare but it is normal and common in Peru. Hartur works for a company that is paving a new highway outside of Cusco. The weather has been rainy so the engineers called in a lady to perform this ritual in their morning meeting. They dug a hole, put in some llama fetus', cooked some food and offered all of this to Pachamama so that she would make the weather better for construction. These are not ignorant people, they are very well educated but enslaved in superstition and animism. Hartur was very upset and worried for their souls. He told me he has shared the gospel with all his crew but they don't listen to him any more. He has a fire in him to proclaim the gospel.

I must say that I love teaching new believers that have a fire for God. I disciple Hartur a couple nights a week. I just started to teach him a course on evangelism every Tuesday night. I asked him what he hoped to achieve in the evangelism course and he told me that he wanted to learn how to preach the gospel correctly on the streets here in Cusco as well in his home town of Trujillo. Good answer. He then went on to say that he wants to share the gospel with everyone in Trujillo, which caused me to chuckle a little because I know how many people there are in his home town. I asked him again, “You know there are over a million people in Trujillo don't you?” He said, “Yes, I know.” You want to share the gospel with everyone there? He looked at me with a very serious and sober face and said, “Yes.” To Hartur, things seem quite simple. God saved him. He wants others to know the glory of Christ in salvation. Therefore, he is going to tell everyone. Sometimes I think we make things too complicated and get distracted from what we should be doing in the Great Commission.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Open-Air Preaching in Cusco's San Pedro Market

After our morning service, we went to San Pedro Market in Cusco to evangelize. Wehrner preached in the open-air. They are celebrating Carnival here and everyone was spraying foam, throwing water balloons, and dumping buckets of water on anyone. Everyone is fair game during this celebration. I saw nicely dressed old ladies get completely covered in white foam so you could hardly see their clothes.  We thought we may have picked a bad time for Wehrner to stand up with a microphone and preach.  Somehow, the people did not do anything to Wehrner.  I, on the other hand, got sprayed twice.  We had good conversations after Wehrner finished.  It may have seemed that no one was listening but you can never discount the authority of the Word of God as it goes out verbally through the open-air.  It is sharp and it always finds it's God ordained mark. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Whitefield of Peru

Whenever I think that I am doing something good, I only need to pick up a biography of a saint of old and shortly I realize that I'm a worm.  It is so humbling and necessary to read good biographies of men of old that God has used greatly.  God has used George Muller, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, Hudson Taylor, C.T. Studd, John Wesley, John Calvin and countless others to greatly humble and encourage me.   Today I don't have to read a biography to have this same humbling, yet encouraging experience.  I only need to look to the "George Whitefield" of Peru, Micah Tuttle.  Micah took over the ministry of Bert Elliot and now works with around 70 villages in the Amazon jungle.  He preaches more than anyone I know who is living on earth right now and most of it is in the open-air.  He has countless stories of the dangers of the jungles and witches showing up to curse and cast-spells on him.  Here is an excerpt from his blog:
January has been very busy! I preached 52 times this month. All of those messages have been in different settings and to different kinds of people. I kept thinking of the prophet Jeremiah who said: "God's word was in my heart like a burning fire, it was shut up in my bones, I was weary of holding it back and I could not." We must press on! We must preach the word in season and out of season!
He has a zeal and fire in his bones like I have never seen before.  Not only does he have a huge ministry and is being used by God so tremendously, he is completely dedicated to his family first.  He is a great husband and father to his five, soon to be six children. 
If you want to learn more about Micah and his family and be very humbled and encouraged, check out his blog and facebook page.