I spent much of my time in Peru teaching. To give you an idea about how busy I was, I had 27 speaking engagements in just under six weeks. Lives were changed, but it was not because of me. It is God’s Word that has the power. When people understood the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross – that He paid for all their sins, past, present, and future – they began to experience the freedom that only His grace can bring: freedom from legalism, guilt, fear, and slavery to a self-focused life.
Our first conference was in a remote Shipibo village called Nuevo Olaya. I went with Pastor Samuel Rios from Lima and several Shipibo leaders from Pucallpa, traveling about six hours by “fast boat.” (The regular boat would have taken two days.) About 100 people from ten Shipibo villages assembled to hear God’s Word over a period of three days. Though it was very hot and buggy, everyone persevered and listened with eagerness. Jorge, the coordinating pastor said, “Thank you for coming to my church to bring the Gospel of Christ, which has greatly strengthened my spiritual life and my congregation. I ask for the prayers of Church Planting International, as I want to make a plan to go to the villages which have no churches.” Marcial, one of the Shipibo pastors who came with us from Pucallpa also remarked, “I understood that Christ died on the cross to take away my sins, that now He sees us as those who do not have sin. When I received the teachings it changed my life. It changed my mind to trust in God and not people. I now have a foundation that I am teaching to my family and to the churches and can feel peace in my heart.
Right after the Shipibo conference, Pastor Rios and I went back to Lima and then to the town of Juan Jui in the high jungles for another three-day conference with about 80 pastors and leaders from seven churches. Once again, we preached and taught about the Gospel of grace and the finished work of Christ. The people had been taught a performance-based religion, but when they heard the Word they received it with joy, including the pastor who invited us and coordinated the meetings.
During the final two weeks of my stay, Pastor Otoniel Pardo and I taught a course in Lima on the Attributes of God in our newly-launched Bible Institute, “Word of Grace.” There were about 25 students. Some had recently come out of a church where they were given very destructive teachings which focused on subjective experience, submission to leaders, the “prosperity gospel,” and manipulating people to give money. One student remarked, “To have participated was very important and beautiful because I have begun to know this precious God, who is infinite and great…I know I am in the hands of a sovereign God who has everything under His control.” This coming June and July will bring two more conferences, first with the unreached Yora tribe, and then with the Matses.