Getting Ready for Peru Again
Acts 13:47 – For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”
In a little over a week my wife and I will be leaving for Peru. I have gone to Peru almost every year for the past 5. This journey has been both eye-opening and heart-changing for us.
Five years ago my senior pastor came to me ask if I would consider leading a trip to Peru. Tentatively I said yes. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to afford the trip. It was expensive. I remember telling him that I would love to but that I needed to pray about it. Just so you know, “I’ll pray about it” is Christianese for “I don’t want to but I am going to blame God for it.”
But something happened. I told my boss at the time that I was looking at going to Peru on a mission trip and wanted to see if it would be possible to get the days off work, thinking he would tell me no since it was a short turn around. Well, he said yes. Then almost immediately, someone from work offered to donate to the trip.
Well, God told me, eh?
I guess I was going to Peru.
The rest of the money was pretty easy to raise. I went on the trip and it was very eye-opening. It was in Peru that I made the decision that church planting was going to be my focus. I needed to see God move throughout neighborhoods and shanty towns. I desired to see community in places that seemed discommunitized (is that a real word?). I told the man who was our guide over and over again that I saw a spot for a church to be planted and would like to help. By the end of the trip, he had told me there was already a church planted there and that they meet regularly.
The next year, we went to Peru and I was blessed to have one of our pastors go with me on this trip. It was also the first year that Mimi went with me. At the time, she was still my girlfriend, not wife, so we had separate accommodations.
For me, though, this trip was about those who had never been to Peru. Our guide, Adam, was awesome. His heart for God is so immense! And he is extremely approachable and humble. The big moment that happened during this trip was about one of the guys who was on the trip with us. His name is Steve. When I had asked everyone at the beginning of the trip what they wanted to get out of it, his reply was that he didn’t know why God had woken him in the middle of the night to tell him to go to Peru.
Fast forward through almost the entire week. Steve had been having a good time, but he told me a few times he still didn’t know why he was there.
Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Our guide, Adam, asked if we would like to take a detour to see a family that their church supports. How could we say no! This was truly a time of blessing. We went to a local market, got food, and headed toward the shantytown. The woman we were going to see lost use of one of her legs when she was younger, he previous living place was destroyed in a landslide, and she had her family living with her in a 2-room, dirt-floor house. In one room was a child who could not walk, talk, move, see, hear or really anything. She was taking care of him.
We asked her if we could pray with her. She grabbed our hands and said yes and immediately started praying. She started with, “Thank you, God, for all the blessings you have given me…”
Adam’s voice broke as he was translating for us. He was choking back the tears as he told us what she just said.
After we were finished, we headed back to where we were sleeping. The bus was quiet. About 20 minutes into the ride, I heard soft sobbing from right behind my seat. It was Steve. Through his sobbing he kept saying over and over “I know why I am here…I know why I am here…”
I never truly heard exactly what it was that God had just shown him, but he clearly was driven to fall deeper in love with God.
The next year, we had planned a trip to Peru but God had other plans. I think God wanted me to learn humility. We had hoped to take a team down for the 3rd year in a row but no one signed up. The only ones who would have gone were me and one other. We made the choice to cancel.
I was heartbroken. But the reason I was heartbroken was not because of the mission of God. I was heartbroken because I was unable to go back to Peru. It was selfish. I wanted to go to Peru and I didn’t want anything or anyone to get in my way, including God.
I spent a lot of time in confession. I remember talking to Mimi about it and telling her that I felt bad that I was taking God’s mission and making it my own. I learned a lot that year.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Last year we had the opportunity to go back. During this trip, Paige was our guide. She was awesome as well, especially with everything that she had going on at the time. She was planning her wedding at the same time we were down there!
This time, Mimi was my wife, so I was blessed to see this from a completely different view with her as my wife. During this trip, there was so much that warmed my heart. First, a couple from our church had their vows renewed in Peru. That was such a tender and sweet moment. Next, I watched my wife do what she is best at, blessing people with her infectious smile and laugh. She may not have understood the language, but she was able to make others smile and laugh with her.
But the big moment came when I watched one girl on our trip, Caillie, go deeper in her walk with God. Her dad was on this trip with her and they had a lot of great father/daughter moments. But I believe God broke through some of those layers of her heart that we tend to put up that prevent us from being vulnerable. It was amazing to see her heart break for the people of Peru.
Caillie has fallen in love so much with people in Peru that she is heading to Haiti in about 2 weeks. She already went once this year and she is finding that her heart for missions just keeps expanding.
So now we are at this year. What is going to happen? I don’t know.
But I do know this, I expect God to do great things. That’s right, EXPECT.
God does great things. It should be our expectation that God will do great things!
This year, again, my wife will be going with me. I can’t wait to share this experience with her again.
Philippians 2:2 – Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Some of the places we will go next week include: Hope House (for abused women), an orphanage, deliver wheelchairs house to house, La Victoria campus of the main church, and serving breakfast to a hospital there.
This is a journey.
Anyone who knows me knows I hate the term “mission trip.” Even though this is a specific trip, the word trip denotes a specific beginning and ending. A journey continues.
When we do missions, whether long-term or short-term, the goal should be to continue the change the God does in our hearts during the trip throughout the rest of our lives.
My prayer is that you will have the opportunity to either support a missionary or be one. You learn that you are not the hero of the story. You are simply a character that is written into the story for a couple of pages. The main characters are those who live in need daily and survive. They are the heroes. They are the ones who deserve the credit, not us. And the writer of the story is God. He creates the opportunities for us to connect.
Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”