Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Faithfulness of God

We have learned over and over that God is faithful to His Church.  I want to give an update on God's faithfulness to His church in Cusco.

We have been going through some changes and various trials in Cusco.  The devil always tries to destroy the church of God and he uses all kinds of means to accomplish this end.  God, however, is sovereign and faithful to His Bride.  God uses trials and difficult times to strengthen the local church and He uses suffering to conform His people to the image of Jesus.  

It is so encouraging to gather together with the church to worship God together as a family.  God has really been strengthening the core of the church.  The members are dedicated and they are beginning to set the culture for the new people to imitate as they come in.  God has also answered our prayers for someone to help lead music.  A guy named Herman, who is a member with his wife, is now playing the guitar during service.  He does an outstanding job and it really has improved our worship dramatically.  

I just finished teaching an evangelism class for the last 3 1/2 months. The church seems to have a new desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ.   Wehrner is just finishing up a series on Philippians, and Joe is about to start a new Sunday School series on the family.  We really want to establish strong, Christ-centered families to set the example for the new people.  

We just about have all the documents of the church finished and registered with the government as well.  Membership, the constitution, and the bylaws have strengthened the core and will help us avoid many problems in the future.

After worshiping the Lord with a packed building of believers today, I was encouraged and convinced of God's faithfulness to His church.  I believe we will only go up from here.  We will continue to be faithful to God in teaching and preaching His Word, in prayer, in evangelism, in discipleship, and fellowship, depending on God alone to make His word effectual and to build His Church.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Preaching the Gospel in Mayapo

Mayapo and New Opportunities

The nights in the jungle are strange.  It is dark at 6:30pm, so we go to bed early.  It is very hot and humid, causing us to sweat ourselves to sleep.  Around 2:00am it gets very cold, at least it feels cold.  We then shiver until the sun comes up. 

For breakfast we ate part of a 60 pound fish they caught in their nets.  It had a good taste and the bones were the size of a chicken bone.  We started teaching at 8:30 and continued until noon.  During the break we gave the kids candy and toys from the States, which they loved beyond measure. 

Roric preached a great gospel message in the afternoon and then we did questions and answers for an hour or so.  We had a lot of good question about prayer and marriage.  We ate hot soup for dinner, which is what we also eat for breakfast and lunch, and then we went to bed.

We drank coffee and ate fish head soup and boiled bananas for breakfast to prepare us for the second day of teaching.  The teaching went good again.  There were about 35 to 40 people.  We again had a lot of good questions on the gospel, marriage, healing by witches, and women pastors. 

A large group of people came from a village called Ibotsote, about 20 minutes downriver from Mayapo.  They asked us to come to their village to see their church building.  We found out that Wilder started the church about 11 years ago before he moved to his current village of Nazaret.  We traveled by peque peque (canoe with motor) and hiked into the village.  We were told we were the first white people and missionaries in the village.  This seemed to be true as we were the center of attention during our short stay.  Many doors have opened to advance the gospel deeper in the jungle.  We now have full access in Mayapo, Ibosote, and several villages on the Urubamba River that have no gospel presence at all. 

We motored back up to Mayapo and talked in the dark over a hot banana drink. 

The last day of teaching is today.  The roosters seem to be quite confused in Mayapo.  They crow from 2am until 7am each day. 

Roric got permission to preach the gospel to the students at the school.  All the kids lined up and Roric preached in the open air.  The kids listened intently.  We ate some hot banana substance and began teaching.  Kyle taught in the morning and I translated.  Mike then taught two lessons with Ronaldo translating.  I finished up the last lesson on prayer before we broke for lunch.

After lunch we swam in the river to cool off.  Rain came today about noon and continued off and on until 3:00pm.  Ronaldo preached this afternoon and then we had a long question and answer time.  They asked the following questions:

If a Christian sins, does the Holy Spirit leave him?
How can we restore a broken relationship with God?
Should we discipline our kids if they disobey?
How many times should I forgive my wife?
How do we handle a stubborn, rebellious teenager?
Where did Cain get his wife?
Should a Christian drink Masato (Alcoholic drink made from Yucca)
Is it a sin to drink a lot of soda?
What is a prayer closet?
Can I pray on the mountain?
How should I pray if I don’t to ask God for anything?
How did the apostle Paul die?
Should we whip a 20 year old who stole from the church?  Because the Bible says that the whip will heal the soul.
Is it God’s desire to always heal?
Do we need faith to be healed?
If we are not healed is it because we don’t have enough faith?
What can we do to heal people?
Who are the 24 elders in Revelation 5?
Why did Jesus speak in parables?
Why did some people hear and others did not?

At the end of the questions and answers there were many speeches given by the group.  The pastor broke down in tears of thankfulness that we came to teach the Bible.  To finish the night, we ate hot soup and talked in the dark until late.

The next day we were up at 5:00am to hitch a ride on the cargo boat.  We got to the river just in time to see the boat passing us by.  Mayapo is isolated and only accessible by boat.  If you can’t get a ride out, you are stranded.  We were dismayed for about an hour or so until another boat came up river.  We flagged it down and jumped in.  It took 5 ½ hours to get up river.  We contracted a crazy driver who drove as fast as the roads would allow his car to drive.  He had no regard to the abuse his car was taking so we arrive in Satipo after about 2 hours.

We checked into the hostel, ready for a hot shower.  To our dismay we found the hot water to be broken.  We took a cold shower and cleaned some of the dirt off of us.  We ate at a bad restaurant called Rambo’s Chicken and then drank iced coffees at a new coffee shop in Satipo.

The next day we ate breakfast at Miguel’s house and then visited an older couple.  The man was over 70 and an atheist.  His wife was Catholic.  We shared the gospel with him for a long time, but he was very stubborn in rejecting Christ. 

In the evening Mike preached on Marriage at Miguel’s church.  It went very well and we had many questions after.  We ran to the bus station just in time to jump on the night bus to Lima, which would arrive the next morning. 

We had an amazing trip and many new opportunities granted to us.  The gospel was preached to many people throughout the trip and the people were very encouraged.  We also were very encouraged to be with true brothers and sisters in Christ who have an intense hunger for the word of God.  After talking with many people, we found that our Reforming Peru conference in December will double in size.  Praise God.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Motoring to Mayapo

Another trip to the jungle was successful.  Mike Hyatt and Kyle Brown from Calvary Baptist church in Helena, Montana joined me on this trip to the village of Mayapo.  We flew to Lima and made our way to the church in Barranco to meet friends and pass the time getting a few supplies and eating our last good meal before we caught the night bus to Tarma.

In Lima we picked up our friend Ronaldo, who would translate for Mike.  Ronaldo is from Lima and is a very good translator.  We took a cab to the bus stop, which is in a very bad part of Lima, and we waited for our bus to arrive.  A guy selling dirty magazines, while proclaiming to be a Christian, took up a lot of our time while waiting.  We talked to him for a long time and we shared the gospel with him.  He loved to talk so I was suspicious of him being a distraction for someone to rob us.  We jumped on the bus at 9:30 and drove all night to Tarma.  The bus stopped once in the middle of the night for a bathroom break and it almost left with Ronaldo still in the bathroom.  A lady yelled at the bus driver to stop, and Ronaldo made a mad dash to the bus as it was leaving.  The bus travels from Lima at sea level, ascends to one of the highest drivable passes in the world at 14,500 feet above sea level, and then back down to about 800 feet above sea level in Satipo.

We arrived in Tarma at about 5:00am and found two Moto taxis, which we overloaded with gear to drive us to our hotel.  We checked in and tried to sleep, but a hotel worker awakened us at 9:00am to tell us it was time for breakfast.  We ate bread and eggs with bologna in it, and drank bad coffee and pineapple juice. 

We met with Pastor Carlos at the little church at 3:00pm.  The little church in Tarma is suffering.  All the “churches” in town got together to form an alliance against the little church, calling it a cult.  The members are shunned and harassed in the little town.  They said they are very alone and long for fellowship.  They were very grateful that we came and wanted us to teach for 4 hours that day.  We gave Carlos some books from the Gospel Coalition, for which he was so happy.  Mike preached first on the nine marks of a healthy church, and then we had a question and answer time, which went very well.  

We took a coffee break at 5:00pm and then continued again at 7:00pm.  I taught on the mission of the church and what a healthy church member should seek.  We again had a time of questions and answers, which went on for over an hour.  There were a lot of questions about church discipline, unqualified pastors, persecution, and various others.  Before we left we prayed over a young couple with two little babies.  It is so great to be with Christians that are hungry for the Word of God.

We left Tarma early the next morning.  We contracted a car to drive us to the jungle city of Pichanacki.  The trip went by fast as we descended from the Sierras to the jungle.  We arrived in three hours and met up with Pastor Roric and Freddy.  We had a good lunch with them, gave them some books, and then headed to Satipo in another car.  Roric is a very solid brother who is well educated and has one of the most biblical churches in this area of Peru.  He decided to join us on our trip to the villages and would meet us the next day in Satipo. 

Roric of Pichanaki
We arrived to Satipo in an hour, checked into our hotel, and rested for a bit.  Pastor Miguel soon came to the hotel to tell us the change in plans.  A man always has his own ideas and plans, but God often changes them for His perfect plan.  Wilder, the pastor of the church in Nazaret, said we couldn’t hike the 20 kilometers to his village because a storm destroyed the trail.  He did arrange for all the teachings to be done in the village of Mayapo, on the Tambo River.  This was God’s providence because we have wanted to teach in Mayapo for years, but they were against us doing so.  Now the door was wide open.  Wilder even invited other Ashaninkas from other villages, so now there should be three villages represented.  This turn of events reminded of Paul’s call to Macedonia.  Acts 16:6-10 tells us:

“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

God had a different plan for Paul, and for us as well on our trip.  We were very excited to see what was about to unfold for us.

Mike preached very well at Miguel’s church that night.  We had good fellowship with the brothers and then went to Miguel’s house for the first of many bowls of hot soup we would eat over the next week.  We talked until late and then went to bed.

The next morning we met Roric and Ivan (A young man from Miguel’s church who decided to go with us).  The power went out in Satipo early in the morning, which prevented our ride from showing up.  Miguel went and found a truck to take the seven of us.  We piled in the truck and drove to Puerto Ocopa in 1½ hours.  Puerto Ocopa is a dumpy river town that resembles a toilet more than a town.  We ate at a shady “restaurant” before getting on the boat.  Kyle and I chose a dish called Lomo Saltado, while the rest of the crew was inclined to eat jungle rat.  It seemed like a bizarre world as we ate strange food in a strange town as we watched an episode of Bonanza in Spanish that was playing on TV.

With our bellies full, which is not a good thing before a 5 hour boat ride with no bathroom, we boarded our vessel.  The boat was filled with over 50 people and an innumerable amount of cargo.  The seats went from gunnel to gunnel, so to get in your seat you had to walk a thin rail on either side of the boat.  It is hard to do this balancing act while holding gear, so some people opt to have their gear passed from person to person.  We had a good laugh at Kyle when a baby was being passed from the bow to the stern.  Ronaldo took the kid and turned to hand it to Kyle, saying, “Take the baby.  You must take the baby.”  Now Kyle had it in his mind that he would be responsible for taking care of the baby for the next five hours, so he told Ronaldo to take care of the baby himself.  After further explanation, I told him to pass the baby back behind him.  We all laughed.

We stopped at a military checkpoint, which is the last form of law for the next 1000 miles of jungle.  The military man checked the names on the list and found there were more people in the boat than names on the list.  This started a long inspection of each person.  Mike used his passport to buy his passage, but then put it in his backpack, which was now at the bottom of the innumerable cargo.  The man came to us and asked Mike for his passport.  Mike gave him his temporary Montana drivers license, which meant nothing to the Peruvian military man.  With some careful talking, we talked the guy into letting us go.  Close call.

After about an hour down the river, the young, inexperienced pilot got the boat stuck on a shallow spot in the river.  After being unable to get the boat unstuck, he received many new nicknames from the passengers.  Several men jumped into the river and pushed the boat out to save the day.

At the next stop, to the dismay of all the current passengers, many new passengers squeezed on the boat.  

One lady, balancing on the narrow bar, was carrying a small dog upside down, by its back legs.  As she passed over Kyle, we noticed she also had a full grown, live chicken under her shirt.  

We had another good laugh as we continued down the river.

We arrived to Mayapo after five long hours.  We me the pastor of the church and Wilder, talked for a while, and then were escorted to our place of lodging.  It was a tin roof with an elevated wood floor, and no walls, which was perfect.  We hung our hammocks.  Before we went to sleep we gathered around the table in the dark and ate hot water with a few grains of oatmeal, crackers, boiled green bananas, and yucca.