We started the month of December with an amazing trip to the Amazon. How did this come to pass? Let me tell you a story: One of our fellow missionaries, Josh Hedderman, was out soul winning on a Saturday afternoon by a nearby park. He invited a man, who was walking past the park, to church. It turns out that this man was a pastor from the jungle and had just come to Lima for the first time in his life in order to visit his daughters. He came to church, and we all got to know him better. His story was amazing!
When he was young, a missionary was passing by his village on the Napo River in his boat. He stopped at the village and asked if he could hold a service. The people in charge agreed, and as a result, 7 villagers accepted Christ, including Jose Diaz. He never saw that missionary again, but the seed had been planted. After reading his Bible for a while, he realized that they needed a church. He started one in his village and then started two others several hours away by boat.
Pastor Diaz was able to attend our church services in San Gabriel for a few weeks while he was in Lima; he then attended our Pastors’ School. He invited us to come visit him sometime. The trip we took was to visit two of his three churches and investigate possible future work in the Amazon. It was an amazing experience! You can see some of what we saw by watching our videos. One is of Pastor Diaz telling his story, and the other is a video of our trip. The links are included at the end of this letter.
After we returned from the jungle, we prepared for a big day. The goal was to try to be a help to some of the many Venezuelan refugees that have recently come to Lima. We had food baskets and an evangelistic service for those who came. We have several Venezuelan families in the Surco church, and this was a big deal to them. We went out to the highways and hedges and ended up having a great group come to the service. Many trusted Christ and found out that there is a church in Surco that loves them.
The next week, we wanted to honor our local firefighters. Firemen are not respected here like they are in the United States. We were able to sing Christmas carols to them and give them gifts of paneton, a special sweet bread, before witnessing to them. There were about 25 in attendance at the meeting in their firehouse. Several of them decided to place their trust in Christ at that meeting.
The next item on our schedule was a Christmas cantata. We had a play with Bible reading and songs, then a Gospel message. The people of the church jumped in wholeheartedly and created a great production. The children participated in costumes, and so did many of the adults. We had several visitors and again saw several trust Christ.
With so much busyness going on, it was nice to take a little time to enjoy Christmas. We called family back home on Christmas Eve and enjoyed the fellowship while watching wintry snow scenes on our computer. Our seasons are opposite down here in the Southern Hemisphere, so Christmas is during the summer here. We served at church all day on Christmas Day.
January 7-11 was a conference in Paita. This is a city in the far north of Peru near Ecuador. The team had been invited to come and run their conference. They call it Pastors’ Camp. There were over 40 pastors who attended the conference. Some of them had to walk for up to six hours in rain and mud to get to where there was transportation available to get to Paita. We had a great week of teaching, training, and soul winning. Many had never been taught about soul winning. They were extremely excited to learn and to put it into practice what they had learned. We have heard back from several of the pastors who attended, and they say the conference made a great impact in their churches. At least one church has started soul winning, and their members are excited as well. The organizing church enjoyed it so much that they asked us to commit to doing their conference for the next four years!
We have finished the first semester of our Bible institute. We had 23 students for our first semester. We are having three sessions during the summer. The first week at the beginning of January was a course on child evangelism with Evangelist Marco Turriza. It was very well attended by both our church members and our regular institute students. We have already seen a difference in our church and look forward to the long-term results. The second week of summer school was the first week of February. Our guest teacher was Bro. Ricky Torres from Hammond, Indiana. He taught about the Youth Ministry, and we ended the week with a Youth Conference on Friday and Saturday. Both weeklong classes had more than 50 people in attendance! We are looking forward to our final week of summer school in March and then the start of our spring semester in April.
The end of January marked our one-year anniversary here in Peru! Thank you so much for helping us on our path to get here and for the continuing prayers and support that allow us to stay here and serve.
If you would like to use these videos in your church, please do! I will be happy to send you a Dropbox link to the original, full-quality videos. We hope you enjoy them!
• Pastor Diaz story (length: 4:19) – https://youtu.be/4RUL6Bwf5QU
• Amazon Trip (length: 3:20) – https://youtu.be/TiXqmQEo_UY
In His service,
Chris and Irene Williams