A regional Pastors’ Camp that we normally do at the beginning of January became an online conference. During the same week, Sarah’s mom and dad, Phillip and Francis Davis, came to be with us for Savannah’s and Samuel’s birthdays. In January, things began to get back to normal. People were coming to the services again and going soul winning; the youth ministry was picking up, and everything was exciting. But talk was in the air of new regulations. We continued to plan our Youth Camp for the beginning of February. Right after a meeting with our cooks, the news came that Sundays would be completely shut down, with a 6 p.m. curfew throughout the week. This, along with other regulations, ruled out our possibilities to have camp. Our own children, who could not even leave the house, were extremely disappointed, so we decided to have camp at home. We bought two tents and camped in the auditorium, with five full days of camp activities. This week of camp has since changed our family. I want to thank Bro. Ricky Torres for the inspiration for the idea.
The hardest news was to hear that churches could have zero in attendance. We do not wish to be contrary with anyone, but that was something that our conscience could not tolerate. They said it was just for two Sundays. The shutdown of churches lasted for a month and a half. We met every Sunday and had some visitors. We also had the privilege of baptizing a 95-year-old man. I told Sarah that we must do right for the right reasons. If we must talk to the police, we must make this about obedience to Christ, not about them and not about ourselves. The first week, the police came by. We respectfully communicated our actions to be obedient to Christ, our highest Authority. Understand that we had already told our people of the stand we would take: we would not tell you to stay home, nor would we tell you to come to church with us. If you do come to church with us, there is a risk of being fined or even arrested. When the police left, family by family came in the door until I could not help but weep. For a month, as we met illegally, we did not even see the police on Sundays. Then we spoke with replacement officers. Again, we made Christ the issue, but they did not have the same fear of God as the first officers. They threatened to fine us and every family present if we met the following week. Our respectful reply was, “Our faith teaches us to obey all authorities.” As they shook their heads, “Yes,” I continued, “And when authorities conflict with each other, we are to obey the higher authorities. Without the morality to obey God, we have no morality to obey you.” We continued our peaceful conversation, and they took down our information. The following week when we met with seven families, the same squad car passed by. Then a tactical police squad car passed by slowly and kept going. Christ is keeping us trusting in His mercy. We believe that in a sin-cursed world, there are consequences for doing good, as well as for doing evil.
Meanwhile, God has been healing our sick. One of our girls, who came to church through this time, suffered a ruptured appendix four days before she was accurately diagnosed and had surgery. Solange is recovering well. God has been merciful to us. Meanwhile, many of our church members are burying their loved ones. At the gravesites, only five people are allowed in the cemetery. It is amazing to see our people handle these hard times with such grace. Please pray for the salvation and spiritual liberty of the Peruvian people.
Also during February, we had our Team Peru Youth Conference and our institute classes online. Sarah and I got to take a two-day survey trip to the jungle to prepare for an upcoming missions event in June. Please pray for us. We need wisdom. Please pray for our church. Please pray for Team Peru. Thank you so much for your love, your support, and your prayers. God bless you.
In Christ in Peru,
Mark, Sarah, Savannah, Paul, Samuel, Rebekah, & Luke Rader