Our Christmas season here in Peru was very rewarding. The first week of December, we concluded our “Physical Proofs of the Faith” Bible study in Villa el Salvador, with the church asking that we do it again in the future. Julio Durand, a young married man in our church, has begun to teach our adult Sunday school class on rotation. Dayle, a young married lady in our church who works at a bookstore, is now helping us get Bibles for our first-time visitors at a lower cost. With the help of our church ladies, we were able to prepare and distribute candy bags with Christmas greetings and Gospel tracts to 400 of our neighbors. Our church people also donated over 45 toys to the children of some of the other churches started by Team Peru.
December was also a month in which some attendance records were broken and several special church activities were enjoyed. On December 18, we invited Daniel Kokubun and a few singing groups from Pastor Dan Hubbard’s church to come and participate in our “Singspiration.” We had a special music competition for our church families, and four of our families participated. After the singing, we had a PowerPoint presentation and taught on “The Star of Bethlehem” and “The Wise Men.” Not including the visiting singing groups, we had a record Thursday night attendance, and everyone wants us to do a repeat of the event next year.
On Sunday, the 21st, we started off the morning service with a heartwarming Christmas play by the children of our church. During the service 5 mommies and babies participated in our Baby Dedication service, as various men of our church prayed for their futures. After the service we had a delicious and plentiful meal provided by the ladies of the church. During the lunch we presented our new church sign. The designer and printer of the sign are both members of our church, and neither one charged us for their services. I am privileged to pastor some great people.
In the evening of that same day, half of our church helped us act out the sermon in costume. We even had an angel choir. After the service we enjoyed a Peruvian Christmas tradition, hot chocolate and panettone (type of sweet bread loaf). My heart melted as I watched our church members unite together in sweet fellowship like never before. God is good.
On Christmas Day we met for a brief service. Luisa, one of our ladies, shared a testimony. Her boss, who had in years past criticized her harshly for her Christian faith and who recently hired her to work with the company again, asked her to share the Gospel with the other employees in a company meeting this year. Luisa told us that she took our recently updated tract with a very detailed and clear Gospel presentation, typed it out in a different format, and read it verbatim to her coworkers. What a blessing!
Every week we have had visitors and souls saved. Many of those who have come as visitors are now attending on a regular basis. Many of the members who had been away for a while came back during our special Christmas services. Only by God’s grace is our ministry possible. Our church is in an expensive and difficult area of Lima; however, I believe that God can truly use this church to be a beacon and that we can reach out to all of Peru with the Gospel. We need your prayers now more than ever. Thank you for your love for the people of Peru. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. We also want to thank those who sacrificially gave us extra at Christmastime. God bless you. Happy New Year!
In His love,
Mark, Sarah, Savannah, Paul, & Samuel Rader