As I write this letter, it’s a Sunday afternoon, and I am sitting at home on my couch after preaching virtually from my office to our church people. We went back under lockdown during the first week of February, and with the lockdown, we have had to go back to virtual services. While it’s difficult on everyone, we have seen growth—even virtually.
I know I might sound like a broken record, but we are seeing God work in big ways through our food drives here in Lima. We have now been able to feed over 8,000 families and have seen well over 1,000 people saved. At the beginning of the year, we started giving out food only on Sundays to the families that came to the church. Back then, we were having three Sunday services to account for the size of the crowds, and after each service, we were giving food to those in need.
As soon as we found out about the new lockdowns, we called our contact in the police department, a door God opened for us back in August and September. We were hoping for the authority to keep the food drives going in spite of the government restrictions. Unfortunately, we were told that the restrictions could not be broken and that we would not be allowed to continue. After a week of lockdown, we went back, looking to talk to the officer in charge, the boss of the man with whom we had worked.
At first, we were told the same thing. We were not going to be allowed to hold food drives; the risk of having long lines of hundreds of people waiting to get food was just not going to be permitted. We were told to coordinate with neighborhood groups to have small distributions to them, and they would give the food to the people. About a half hour after leaving his office, we received a call back, and the officer in charge wanted to see us again. He had called the vice president of the association of all the neighborhoods in our district and wanted to see how we could collaborate with him. In that short half hour, the officer had completely changed his mind, now encouraging us to work with the heads of the neighborhoods and giving us blanket authorization to open our doors and feed families.
But the blessing didn’t stop there. Not only did the police give us permission to open, but the head of the neighborhood association is now bringing 50 new people a week to our church to be fed, and each person is receiving a clear presentation of the Gospel. We basically gained a state-authorized bus captain who brings 50-60 visitors a week to our church to receive the Gospel.
While Saturdays are full of reaching others, we are still limited to virtual services. We are essentially congregating on Saturdays with 60-70 members coming together to serve and witness, and then all our Sunday and Wednesday services are virtual. We have also been able to start 5 new virtual Sunday school classes, as well as Bible studies throughout the week. God continues to work in our people.
Pray for our church; we are currently going through a wave of COVID cases. While we have not seen anyone contract the virus from being at church, there are multiple members of our church who have gotten it from others, from work, from the markets, etc. Pray that God continues to heal our people.
Heather, Joseph, and I are doing great. Joseph is getting his upper teeth right now, so pray for his mother, who is doing an incredible job of putting up with all the fussiness. Thank you for your love and prayer. Please pray that God keeps opening the doors to be able to extend even more His kingdom.
-Josh and Heather Hedderman