Greetings from California! Yes, we have returned back from Peru 2 days ago and are now under a 14-day travel quarantine. Don’t worry, this is just required for those traveling back from Peru. We wanted to send out a quick update on our situation so that you can pray for us as we continue to serve the people of Peru.
These past three months have been very difficult for us living under a military quarantine in Peru. We are very thankful that we were able to have food, supplies, and a home. The Lord has been gracious to us. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, we have not been able to physically meet at church or do our children’s ministry. As always, the Lord continues to amaze us. He has been showing us that even in the middle of a pandemic, a military curfew, security concerns, and shortages of food and other essential items that He is Lord and He is in control.
Life has been difficult for our members as most have not been able to work. In some cases, people have sold their animals and possessions to be able to buy food for their family. For a while no one was allowed to even go out of their homes. Yet we saw the Lord’s hand at work. After a night of prayer where we asked Him for provision to help our church members, God answered immediately with some special gifts sent to help those in need. The Lord allowed us to bless those struggling to pay rent and we were able to buy food for those who were in need. We are beyond thankful for your generous heart!
Like churches in the USA, we decided a few months ago to do all of our services, women’s Bible classes and discipleship groups through Zoom. We have been busy texting and calling members and those we are trying to reach in order to encourage them and uplift them. An example of the fruit of our online ministry was seen in the life of a young girl who received Jesus though our Zoom service, praise the Lord!
Maria, one of the young ladies that Natalia has been discipling for the past 2 years has a friend named Eliana. Eliana had a dream one night that the Lord was calling her and that He wanted her to go to church. She knew Maria loved Jesus so she called Maria who just happened to be watching the live online service. Maria texted back that she was at church. Eliana responded by texting “I want to be part of the church too, please send me the zoom link!” Eliana was able to join the service and afterwards she stayed and talked with us. During the conversation that we had, she received Jesus in her heart! There are no boundaries for the Gospel, praise the Lord! Please keep her in your prayers. She is experiencing heavy spiritual attacks. The enemy is doing his evil work as Eliana’s mom has kicked her out of her home for becoming a Christian.
Some of you might know Peru is changing slowly but surely the way the country is governed. The president is doing anything he wants. People have been in home quarantine for the past 3 months and nothing seems to be changing. We started doing research, wondering when we will be able to meet again as a church. It turns out there will be no social meetings until at least June of 2021. This news completely broke our hearts. We love our church and really miss meeting together. We decided to start praying about what our next steps should be as a family. As we prayed for several weeks, the Lord started showing us that with the ongoing shutdown in Peru, this may be an opportune time to return to the USA to work on some specific things as we look ahead to our long term mission in Peru. As we have heard from Him, consulted with trusted mentors and leaders, we believe the Lord is clearly leading us to do the following:
- Keep serving and ministering with Refugio Community Church through zoom, exactly the same way as if we were in Peru. Our commitment to doing this is evidenced by Natalia doing her women’s bible study on zoom, 15 minutes after we arrived back to the USA. There is nothing that stops her!
- Continue to meet the physical needs of those that we serve through Anita and Jose, two of our amazing leaders. Currently they are staying in our home and are trusted by us to diligently care for our members. They will be able to take care of purchasing food or disbursing financial help as need arises. We will be sending them funds to pay the church rent and utilities or other needs for the church that we would normally cover.
- Get training on church planting. Pastor Sham had suggested this last year when we were back but we were concerned about the church in Peru and decided to put it off. Now the Lord is making it possible while still being able to pastor our church in Cajamarca. We met with Pastor Sham and he agrees with this plan to take this time to prepare, so we can better serve the community when we go back to Peru.
- Get Natalia’s immigration papers taken care of. This has been an ongoing issue and has caused us to go back and forth more times than we wanted to.
- Improve our health. Natalia has had some nagging health issues and we believe this will be a good time for her to take care of her health and be ready for ministry when we head back.
The Lord has opened the door for us to stay in a missionary home in Pasadena. This is a huge blessing! We continue to pray that God will continue to direct our steps and prepare us for the next phase in our ministry in Peru. We are truly grateful for your ongoing support as we minister in Peru. Meeting the needs of the poor, helping young women like Eliana come to Christ, raising up leaders like Jose and Anita are all part of what you have invested in! Muchas Gracias!!
John & Natalia
PS. The whole story of how the Lord has taken us from a very strict military controlled country and brought us safely here to the States is too long, but we will do a blog with all the details later. We are blown away that we are here in California! When it seemed really impossible to do, the Lord made it possible. There is nothing impossible for our God!