The Iglesia Evangélica Morava de Peru is growing in faith, in numbers and in music!
People are learning of the saving work of Jesus Christ and committing themselves to lives of discipleship through the sacrament of baptism. Young people are responding to God’s call to serve in the church. Music is vibrant and lives are being changed.
It was my privilege to travel with Br. Sam Gray to Peru in early February to work with the leaders of the Mission Area as they organize themselves in preparation of holding a national conference this summer. In January, the worldwide Unity officially named the Moravian Church Northern Province as the Supervising Province to walk with the Peru Mission Area as it grows toward recognition as a Mission Province.
My week among the Peruvian Christians was fascinating, rich and personally transforming. On the evening of our first full day in Lima, Sam and I baptized a young adult in a local swimming pool. I also preached (in Spanish) at Mangomarca, one of the two congregations in Lima.
My sermon was the least of the witnesses to the power of God at work in their midst. A young person sang a song; an older woman gave a witness talk; all 25 people in attendance sang with joy and prayed with fervor.
Worship services are held in the living rooms of someone connected to the congregation. Pastors transport plastic chairs, banners, musical instruments and whatever is needed to hold worship. Much like our emerging ministries that rent space, church leaders transport everything to their worship location. Unlike our emerging ministries, the Peruvians transport everything by taxicab.
The bulk of our time was in Chiclayo, where the leadership team met to review changes to the Book of Order and assure that what they were suggesting was in compliance with the Church Order of the Unitas Fratrum and in keeping with their local values and customs. If you think studying the Book of Order is difficult (and often boring) in English, try two solid days of it in Spanish! The group was very patient with my efforts to lead Bible Studies and offer my comments in Spanish. All of that work was more than worth it when we heard the call story of a young man who declared his intention to study for the ministry.
During our time in Chiclayo, we worshiped in two other locations. The Rhemanente Band, a group of six teenage musicians of the congregation, led music. They are quite gifted and have recorded their first original song. They honored me when they asked me to serve as La Madrina (Godmother) of the Band! Evidently, it is a custom in Peru for all bands to have a godmother.
With two other baptisms, two more worship services and the joy of visiting with people all along the way, our trip was complete. But the work has just begun. When the Board of World Mission asked our Provincial Elders’ Conference to serve as the supervising province, the PEC asked me if I were willing to take on this additional work. My response was simple: “How can I say no if it means that more people will hear the good news of Jesus Christ?”
During my week of ‘work’ among the people of Peru, my heart was “strangely warmed” by the faithfulness, commitment and tenacity of people who offer all that they have to bring God’s love to people who are thirsty for the saving message of Jesus Christ. All of the pastoral leaders have full-time jobs; ministry is part-time work, but full-time passion for them. I was inspired and humbled.
As the supervising province, we have the privilege of walking alongside our brothers and sisters as they organize themselves. We have the responsibility to pray for them; the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few, but growing. We have the opportunity to offer ourselves even as they offer themselves.
Currently, each of the four congregations is seeking a place to rent so they can establish a presence in the neighborhood and offer ministry more than one night a week. Rent is high, relative to income, but $10,000 would provide rent for four congregations for a year. In fact, two pastors have signed a lease, trusting that the funds will come to pay the rent. Surely there are individuals and congregations in our provinces that feel God calling them to adopt a congregation. Maybe a Sunday School could help build up a children’s ministry in Peru. Maybe a Joyful Noise Offering could be designated for Peru.
Even though we often feel like we don’t have enough, one trip to Peru will remind us of just how rich we are. I invite you to join me in adopting a congregation, a ministry, a Mission Area that is changing lives day by day. Gifts may be directed to the Board of World Mission, designated to Peru. ■
Betsy Miller is president of the Northern Province Provincial Elders’ Conference. Photos courtesy of Sam Gray, Board of World Mission.