This past spring, a fresh new relationship began to blossom… and bear fruit! The Northern Province took on the responsibility of supervising the Peru Moravian Mission Area. In the past few months, Moravians from Peru and North America have accompanied each other in many ways as they have entered into this fruitful endeavor.
The four Moravian congregations in Peru began as house churches. Church members and leaders offered their homes for the ministry of the church. But it was soon evident that they needed room to grow. An appeal was made to churches in North America and many Moravians responded. Now all four congregations (two in Lima and two in Chiclayo, which is in northern Peru) have been able to rent suitable space for worship gatherings and for their ministries in the community.
In the “Somos Uno” (We Are One) congregation in Lima, the added space means that there is room for more children. Rev. Manuel Verástegui’s daughter, Eunice Sofia, teaches children from the Manco Inca neighborhood of Lima about Jesus through Bible stories, songs, games, dance and arts and crafts. They are glad to have room to move around as well as room to grow.
During the past year, BWM representatives (Executive Director, Judy Ganz, and Director of New Work, Sam Gray) and Northern Province President, Betsy Miller, visited Peru and met with leaders to talk about the various aspects of the relationship (Ed. note: see the May issue of the Moravian for an article on that trip). During that visit, Peru Moravian Mission Area President, Christopher Valencia, extended an open invitation to North American Moravians to accompany the Mission Area by being physically present with them or through financial or spiritual support.
In September, the Rev. Darryl Bell and his “team of two” (Sam Schneider and Caitlyn Mischnick) spent some time with Moravians in all four Peruvian congregations. They took part in worship services and also worked on some projects to improve the rented spaces and help to adapt them for use as worship and ministry centers.
Here are some reflections on that time from Darryl and Caitlyn:
“Our three team members met for the first time at the airport in Chicago, and as we were returning home we said, ‘It seems like we’ve known one another for years.’
“We grew very close to one another and to the people we met in Peru. We spent the first part of the week in Lima with Pastors Ana Maria and Manuel and their people. Worship was powerful, lively and with a clear sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Later we moved on to Chiclayo where we engaged with Pastors Christopher and Walter and their congregations. Worship in each church was distinctive, yet all enthusiastically focused on praising the Lord. One used recorded music, another sang mostly a cappella. Another used a single guitar, and the fourth had a praise band. The people we met are clearly devoted to Jesus Christ and often make great sacrifices to serve him.
“The construction projects we went to do were accomplished, but they were secondary to the relationships that were formed. Sometimes speaking across two languages was a challenge, but we were always able to communicate. It wasn’t until our final evening there that we discovered Google Translate! Our hearts are full, and the number of our Facebook friends has jumped dramatically as we return to life in the USA.”
“Our new Peruvian family will forever be in our hearts and prayers. Praising with them showed us a new understanding of true faith and dedication to Christ. It amazes me how one single act of God can come to change someone’s life.
“While in Peru we had opportunities to do construction projects for the churches, but these were never first priority to them. Our hosts truly just wanted to sit and talk with us. The difference in language was difficult, but did not seem to matter as we spoke of our testimonies and walks with Christ.
“We shared our journeys, struggles, families, hopes and dreams, and in seven days we made life-long friendships. I hope to see my brothers and sisters again soon, but until then I pray for their health, happiness and growing faith as they follow God’s plans for them—for us.” ■