Friday, September 9, 2016

Another Great Conference

A group of five of us from Calvary Baptist here in Helena, MT met up with our friends Bryan and Brad from Mount Vernon Baptist of Atlanta in a small hostel in the center of Lima, Peru. I was in Cusco for a few days prior to visit our church. Everyone was doing very well. We were all together to teach for a week at another Reforming Peru conference in the jungle town of Pichanaki. We took the twelve hour night bus from Lima to Pichanaki, which involved starting on the coast, ascending a 14,500 foot mountain pass over the Andes, and then descending a lengthy stretch of switchbacks to the heat and humidity of the jungle.

We partner with a Peruvian brother named Roric, who is the pastor of a church in Pichanaki, which he planted about four years ago. Roric is amazingly sound in doctrine, understands the Ashaninca culture, and is one of the most capable and well-organized Peruvians we know.

After not sleeping much on the bus, we arrived Saturday morning and spent the day resting, preparing for the conference, and getting to know the town of Pichanaki. They happened to be having a coffee festival for all the coffee exporters in this area of the jungle. We drank coffee and ate chancho de palo (a whole pig roasted on a rack at the edge of a fire).

Chanco de Palo
I preached at Roric’s church (Grace Bible Church) on Sunday morning, and then we discussed the conference details, cleaned the conference building (which was an old garage) and then ate dinner at the house of a brother named Abram. Abram turned out to be an animal lover of sorts. After dinner he brought out a little boa constrictor snake that he kept in a fanny pack. He threw it on the table for us all to play with. He then brought out a sloth, scarlet macaw, and finally a 25 year old boa constrictor that was quite large, maybe six feet. Some members of our party, especially one man, was not fond of snakes, in fact, he was turned out to be deathly afraid of them. As the snake came in, the fearless preacher ran out the back door, but a big dog that was guarding the door hindered his retreat. The whole scene was quit amusing and we all, well most of us, laughed about it for some time after.

Abram and his Boa
Monday brought the first day of the conference. The Ashanincas, who traveled for one or two days from the villages, arrived on time. Each conference attendee received a book on 20 Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem, a notebook, and a Spanish Bible. We had about 25 people in attendance each day. 

The conference teaching on the Local Church and Holiness seemed to be going well. At the end of each day, for the last two hours, we had a question and answer period where they could ask any question. The questions the first few days are usually not about the teaching from the day but come from what they have been struggling with for the months before the conference. For example, one question was this:

“A man and a woman are not married, but they have been living together for many years and have four children together. The woman becomes a Christian and wants to be baptized but she is still living in fornication because she is not married. She asked the father of their children, who is not a Christian, to marry her, but he refused to do it. Should the wife be baptized? Should she leave this man? Who should take care of the kids? Is she still living in sin if she stays with him for the sake of the kids?”

Quite a complicated situation, yet a very common one in Peru.

We continued teaching on the church and holiness on Tuesday and Wednesday. The question and answer time is always my favorite, and maybe the most useful to the Ashaninca leaders. The following questions are only a few of the many that were asked:

  1.  How can I direct the gospel in my church? (Basically he is asking what the gospel is.)
  2. God is holy. How can I be holy?
  3. Who are Adam and Eve?
  4. What would have happened if Eve never sinned?
  5. Can a Christian who divorced his Christian wife become a pastor?
  6. Can a pastor preach on Sunday and then get drunk with his unbelieving soccer friends?
  7. How can I “put to death” the sins listed in Colossians 3:5?
  8. How many times do you discipline someone who is in sin?
  9. Is fornication between 12 year olds acceptable?
  10. Who can discipline the pastor?
  11. What kind of oil is used in James 5:14, and is oil necessary to heal someone?
  12. Do ghosts exist?
  13.  How many wise men were there?

After hearing questions like “who are Adam and Eve?” we decided to adjust the teachings. We realized they did not understand so much of what we were teaching. Even though we have taught it many times over the last 4 years, we taught again on the gospel. The last two days we taught them what the gospel is by using four points to explain it: God, Man, Jesus, Response. The last few days were very interactive and they seemed to get it.

The conference ended well. We learned a lot about the Ashaninca and how we can better teach them the Scriptures. Roric will be going into the villages every month or so to re-teach what we taught at this conference. We were reminded again that only the Holy Spirit can make men understand the truth of the Scriptures, no matter how good it is explained.

I know I was frustrated at the end of the third day because of their lack of understanding something we have been teaching them for years, but I was encouraged to press on, trust in God, keep teaching the truth, and beg God to enlighten their understanding. I was encouraged that we now have a conference where Ashaninca men and women will travel two days to listen to the word of God be taught for a week. Only a short time ago we were the first white men in these villages and we were not very welcome. God has done so much in a short period of time and we trust in Him to complete the good work that He started.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Getting Settled and the Reforming Peru Fall Conference

We have been getting settled and enjoying the summer with our family since we have arrived at the end of June. Levi and his family drove up from California to spend the month of July with us, and Chase drove from Kansas to spend three weeks with us. 

Like always, time flies by and we have been busy. We love our church, Calvary Baptist, in Helena and we are so grateful that they gave us the church parsonage to live in. The transition has went amazingly well. We are so grateful to our kind and gracious God. 

The church in Cusco continues to thrive while both us and the Martinez family are in the States. Joe and family return to Cusco at the end of August to continue on with the church. 

I am excited to be going back to Peru on August 23rd to visit my dear brothers and sisters in our church in Cusco, as well as to participate in another Reforming Peru conference in the jungle. A group from our church in Helena, Calvary Baptist, will be joining our good friends at Mount Vernon Baptist church in Atlanta to teach the Ashaninka people about the local church and holiness. A group of Peruvian brothers are making a trip to the villages right now to gather up the Ashaninka people for the conference. We are expecting a large turn out this fall. 

Below is the schedule and prayer list. We really beg your prayers for this conference. 

Reforming Peru 2016 Fall Conference

August 29th Monday (Conference Begins)
Childcare       Joanna and Irene (Calvary)
Session 1       What is the Church? Nature of the Church (MVB)
Session 2       Holiness defined (2 Timothy 2:20-26) (Scott)
Session 3       What is the Church? Attributes of the Church (MVB)
Session 4       Questions and Answers (Everyone)

August 30th Tuesday
Childcare       Joanna and Irene (Calvary)
Session 1       What is the Church? Marks of the Church (MVB)
Session 2       Pursuing holiness (Hebrews 12:14) (Chad)
Session 3       Who is the Church? Membership of the Church (MVB)
Session 4       Questions and Answers (Everyone)

August 31st Wednesday
Childcare       Joanna and Irene (Calvary)
Session 1       Who is the Church? Leadership of the Church (MVB)
Session 2       Holiness in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:15-16) (Chad)
Session 3       What Does the Church Do? Mission of the Church MVB
Session 4       Questions and Answers (Everyone)

September 1st Thursday
Childcare       Joanna and Irene (Calvary)
Session 1       What Does the Church Do? The Unity and Love of the Church (MVB)
Session 2       Holiness and sexual purity (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8) (Mike)
Session 3       What Does the Church Do? The Discipline of the Church (MVB)
Session 4       Questions and Answers (Everyone)

September 2nd Friday
Childcare       Joanna and Irene (Calvary)
Session 1       Where is the Church Going? Hope of the Church (MVB)
Session 2       Holiness as a requirement for elders (Titus 1:8) (Mike)
Session 3       What is My Place in the Church? The Call to Love and Serve the Church (MVB)
Session 4       Questions and Answers (Everyone)

Prayer List
-       This trip requires extensive travel by plane and bus. Please pray for safety and that all luggage, books, and Bibles will arrive without problems.
-       Please pray that the Word of God would be made effectual in the hearts of the people.
-       Pray for God to remove distractions of the enemy that may prevent people from hearing.
-       Pray that God would bring all the Ashaninka and locals to the conference without obstacles.
-       Pray that all the teachers will be able to commune with God and prepare well spiritually each day.
-       Pray that we will preach the gospel clearly and boldly.
-       Pray that the teachings will be clear and understandable for the Ashaninka people.
-       Pray that God will be glorified.

The success of all real missionary effort is dependent on prayer.  Anti-missionary Churches are dead Churches, just as anti-missionary Christians are dead Christians.  The trophies won by our Lord in heathen lands will be won by praying missionaries, not by professional workers in foreign lands.  More especially will this success be won by saintly praying in the churches at home.
- E.M. Bounds

Monday, May 30, 2016

Reforming Peru, The Church, and The Work of God

The Three Pastors and Their Families
I must say that the conference in the jungle this past week was very good, but I am so glad to be back in our church in Cusco. God is really doing a great work here. We are seeing people saved, a tremendous amount of spiritual growth within the members, triple the people in our prayer meetings, and a full building each Sunday. We were maxed out this Sunday for space. Wehrner is really improving in his preaching and has just started a series on the book of Ruth. It is so great to see the Word of God being made effectual in the brothers and sisters here.

The Reforming Peru conference in Satipo went very well. There were four Ashaninka villages represented, as well as many leaders from churches in the area of Satipo. Scott Dollar taught 20 basic doctrines and Rob Aldridge from Calvary Baptist in Helena, MT taught on worship. I taught on Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, and Perseverance, as well as translated for Rob. Rebecca, Rob's wife, is a doctor. She did a mini medical campaign for two hours a day. Every person was seen and treated during the week.

It took 12 hours to arrive to Satipo by a questionable bus from Lima, and it was very hot. We taught from 9am to 5pm each day from Monday through Friday. Martin Manchego, our Peruvian friend from Lima preached on Sunday morning at Miguel's church, and did a lot of filming to make a promotional video for Reforming Peru. The video should be out in June. Our brother Walter Isse, who is a pastor in Lima, translated all week for Scott Dollar. I also brought along a brother from our church in Cusco.

At the end of every day we had a session of questions and answers for several hours. The people came up with some very interesting questions. Through these questions and answers we learn a lot about the heretical teachings of a variety of cults that occupy this part of the jungle. For example, we discovered some crazy end times teachings. The people had a lot of questions about the end times because there is a crazy group that is traveling all over the jungle from village to village teaching about the anti-christ. They have a video identifying the anit-christ as the United States government and the Peruvian government. Apparently they teach that if the villages accept help from the government then they are accepting the mark of the beast. Sadly, many villages are signing a document that says they refuse all help from the government. Scott Dollar taught for four hours on the end times, but they seemed to be slow to grasp it. We find that we need to constantly re-teach certain doctrines every conference.

Roric and Walter
We also had some funny questions. One Ashaninka man asked if they can all bathe naked together in the river. Later we found he was asking the question because he wanted permission look at naked women. One guy introduced his question like this: "I have a hard question that I cannot find an answer to. It is very controversial and difficult." He then went on in his introduction for some time. He finally asked the question, which was: "What is the first day of the week?"

Our friend Roric, who is a pastor in Pichinaki (about 45 minutes from Satipo), preached in the plaza on Wednesday night. He did very well. We all shared the gospel after. I shared the gospel with a man who was very affected by the preaching. He said he has never heard the gospel explained like we explained it. Another guy, a homeless man named Juan, was affected and came to the conference the rest of the week. He was taken care of medically, with meals, and a bus ticket back to Lima. He said that in all his time being homeless, not one person has ever helped him or gave him anything.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


We are seeing God do a great work in the church in Cusco. It seems, after years of labor, we are seeing good fruit. Recently about 17 people from the church gathered for an "all night" prayer meeting. We read the book of 1 Peter, meditated on the Word, sang many songs, prayed a lot, and had great fellowship from about 8:00pm to 1:00pm.

One of the greatest joys for us personally is the salvation of our daughter Raegan. About 10 months ago, through the preaching of the Word, Raegan was convicted of her sin. She responded in faith and repentance that were both a gift from God. We, and the elders of the church, have been watching and encouraging her for the last 10 months. We really wanted to see fruits of conversion in her life. I believe God has made it clear in many ways that Raegan has been born again. She told her testimony in Spanish in front of the church last week. She was nervous, but did a great job. This is her testimony:

I grew up in a Christian home. Every Sunday I was in church, but not because I wanted to be there. I knew the Bible, having been taught it basically my whole life. I had memorized Scripture. I believed in God, and I had heard how He saves His people. But it hadn't been made effectual. The sermons and teachings I was hearing of this Sovereign Lord went in one ear and out the other. I knew them, but I didn't believe them. About ten months ago, the Lord used a sermon to awaken my spirit. It was through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit began stirring inside of me, and everything that I had been taught or learned finally clicked. It wasn't my own doing, but the Lord's. I don't know the exact moment that I was saved. Over time God slowly removed the cover over my eyes, and I could see. I could see this loving and just God, and His hatred of my sin. I began to understand how ugly and wicked of a sinner I am. I understood my need for a Savior, the Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He died on the cross in my place for my sin. I believe this, I put my faith in Him, and I was saved. It's so humbling to know that the Lord chose me, a sinner, before the foundation of the world to become His child. It's amazing to think of the events that happened, and the circumstances He used to draw me to Him. I had heard The Gospel basically my entire life, and yet on that day, about ten months ago in a small church in Cusco, Peru, the Lord saved me. It was in His perfect timing. I don't know what the future has for me. I don't know where I will be or what I will be doing. I don't even know how much time I have left on this Earth, or if I even have a future. Regardless, my goal for my life is to seek the will of the Lord, and to glorify Him in whatever circumstances or situations I find myself in. “To Him be the glory forever and ever.”

About 40 of us took a bus to a Baptist camp outside of Cusco to have a church picnic and baptize Raegan along with another man in the church named Miguel. God has done a great work in Miguel. He also told his testimony in front of the church. He is around 60 years old and has been coming to the church faithfully for several years. He first came to the church through a member, Jair, who shared the gospel with him at his workplace. We have seen a great change in his life. He constantly reads the Bible, books at a time. He said that people all around him ask what happened to him because he is not the same man. The non-Christians in his life are stunned at his radically changed life. 

We are so happy and grateful to God that He allows us the great privilege of sharing the gospel and seeing people swept into the Kingdom. Check out the video of the baptisms below: