Peru Report — December 2009

It is always exciting to see God move in ways that you neither plan nor expect.  That is exactly what happened last week in Peru with our little team.  We saw the power of God and the power of the Gospel in ways that we did not expect.

One of the things we had been told from the beginning of the REAP strategy was that the going would be slow and we should not get discouraged because we don’t see a lot of people coming to Christ in the early stages of our involvement.  We are dealing with a people, who by and large, have no understanding of Christianity.  What little information they have has been mixed with their ancestral religions dating back hundreds of years.

The early Incas, and most of Peru, worshiped Pachamama (Mother Earth) and El Sol (the Sun god).  They believed that when these two came together they bore a son and he was the First Inca, the emperor.

When Spain began their conquest of South America they did not have enough money to finance their endeavors to conquer the lands and keep them, so the Vatican agreed to help finance part of their efforts in return for a share of the bounty and the use of the Spanish soldiers to “bring the gospel to the pagans.”  In many cases this was done by the sword not by persuasion.  The Incas were given a choice, convert or die.  So the converted, as least in words.

The Roman Catholic Church did not have enough priests to serve/teach the large numbers that had converted by this “mass evangelism” so the Native Peruvians simply changed the names to fit the Catholic church and then brought many of their practices and superstitions into the church.  They continued living as they had, they were just using different names for their gods.  Thus, Pachamama (Mother Earth) became the Virgin Mary; El Sol (Sun god) became God the Father, and the First Inca became Jesus; and then the regional and local gods (of which there are many) became the Saints.. But their way of thinking did not change.  Their false religion simply became mingled with the Catholic church and no clear gospel has ever been preached in these parts where we are working as far as we can determine.

One of the problems/barriers to Christianity in the Chancay River Valley has been that there has simply not been Bibles available.  We went there hoping to get some of the people to take a Bible from us. What we didn’t expect was to have people literally begging us for Bibles.  And we gladly accommodated them.  One of my favorite pictures (see left) we took is of an elderly woman, after receiving a Bible on Thursday night, sitting on the side of the street reading it.

We have seen three people come to faith in Christ in the short time we have been there. We do discipleship Bible study with these when we are there.  We also discovered that there is at least one group of believers (who believe in Jesus alone) in one of the villages.  In several conversations we had people tell us that they believe in the “image” or worship the Saints.  But God has called out a group to worship in Christ alone and we look forward to helping them become a vital church.

This is the season when we celebrate the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.  It is also the time as Southern Baptists that we emphasize International Missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  God is giving us the opportunity to make an impact for the Gospel on an international scale.  Both through the LMCO and also through our work in the Chancay River Valley of Peru.

Let’s be faithful in both our giving and our going during this season.  Tell someone in Somerset about the great Gospel of Jesus Christ this year.