gloria al Dios
Greetings from the Peruvian Andes. As I sit here penning this ministry update, I'm gazing out the huge bay window of our apartment in Huaraz at the Cordillera Blanca and the double peak of Huascaran (22,205 ft.), the highest mountain in Peru. My soul sings Toda la gloria del Creador de estas montanas, gloria al Dios pos las opportunidades en esta lugar. Truly, the Maker of the Mountains has opened doors of opportunity to preach the glorious Gospel for Team Yeshua down here in South America, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
On June 17th, Team Yeshua rendezvoused in North Carolina. On the 18th, we were blessed by a commissioning service at New Testament Christian Fellowship and by an authentic Passover Seder conducted by missionaries we help support through Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
On June 20th, after a long drive to Orlando, we left the United States. Following a brief 1-day stint in Bogota, Columbia (i.e. where we did some street fishing and gave out a lot of Spanish Gospel tracts), we arrived safely in Lima, Peru. We spent the first week laboring with Brother TJ Lindsey and Heart of Christ Ministries. Back in 2013, he and his wife opened their home to us; and we labored then with them in Caja de Aquas, one of the poorest and most dangerous barrios of Lima. All last summer, Alexis Lane, one of our current Team Yeshua members, volunteered with Heart of Christ Ministries. So, the reunion was sweet; and again, it was a huge blessing to have a nice place to stay while in Peru's capital.
Of course, we stayed pretty busy. Four days a week, Brother TJ and his family host five different groups of barrio kids (ages 4-17), about 150 children total, in a community building where they are taught the Bible and clearly hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This ministry is also a platform to provide the families of each of the sponsored children with food, clothes, or other basic necessities. I am much impressed with how the Gospel is so intertwined with all humanitarian labors. Not a day goes by when Brother TJ and those local believers who work with him are not preaching the Gospel, and that very clearly. Shame on those so-called ministries (sadly, they are quite common) who boast in their good deeds and humanitarian efforts while giving the Gospel a backseat. For many of these, there will be a bonfire of works before the Judgment Seat of Christ that will make Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem like a couple of wiener roasts. Notwithstanding, I am always encouraged with how the Lord puts solid believers and solid ministries into our paths as we travel the globe. It's always a blessing to learn from these and to come alongside in the work of the Great Commission.
During our time in Lima, we had the privilege of teaching God's Word and preaching the Gospel to approximately 150 children spread across five groups that were gathered over the course of an entire day. And, we got to minister to each group four different times over four days.
Each member of our team had the opportunity to teach from the Bible and preach the Gospel, including my 13-year old daughter. I was a grateful, impressed, and beaming father.
On the last day, Bethany and I hosted five separate self-defense demonstrations. I randomly attacked my daughter unarmed, with a knife, and with a gun. And, she threw me all over the place on a hard, concrete floor. The kids loved it, and it was a grate platform for re-iterating the Gospel message. I was able to talk about how it is always best to left God fight for you (Exodus 14:14); how sometimes the best form of self-defense is self-sacrifice--as modeled by our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:51-54); and how even in the word karate, there is a lesson for us about being right with the Lord. Karate is a Japanese word that literally means EMPTY (kara) HAND (te). People think they can be right with God by bringing all sorts of things to him in their hands--religion, traditions, good works, superstitions, riches, fame, education, etc. But, none of these things avail. The only way we can be right with God is to come before him with EMPTY HANDS as the publican in Luke 18 and the thief on the cross in Luke 23. It is only with EMPTY HANDS that we can truly repent and believe upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, fully trusting Him for our forgiveness and salvation. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Needless to say, my body paid for being tossed on the concrete for six straight hours.
Over the weekend, while in Lima, we joined with some local believers for street evangelism in Miraflores and Plaza San Martin. The latter is great for open-air preaching but can involve a tough crowd. Typically, cults, communists, and political activists gather down there to shrill and peddle their Satanic lies. So, in this mess, I was greatly encouraged to see Kyle Stengel and Jay Lems preach their first open-air sermons. Many, many Gospel tracts went out. One two separate occasions, I was surrounded by people pressing in while preaching. One group applauded, and several took Spanish John/Romans booklets. The other group mocked and cursed under their breaths. After the Gospel had been preached, an old man tried to argue with me. He went on and on and refused to hear when I very clearly answered his questions with Scripture. Finally, I said: "I am not going to argue with you. The Bible says I am not to take precious holy treasures and cast them to the dogs." He got real angry and asked: "Are you calling me a dog?" I answered, "No, I'm simply sharing with you what God says. Your problem is not with me, it is with Him." A few more Spanish Gospel tracts went out as we walked away praising God for the day.
In downtown Lima, I took the team members down into some creepy catacombs under a Catholic Church. There were human bones scattered everywhere, and there were more than a few visual images worth a thousand words. The leg bones and skulls arranged in a circular pattern in one vault summed up Roman Catholicism and manmade religion quite nicely--bondage and death. I am amazed by the similarities that exist between Hinduism and Roman Catholic superstition. The Hindus and Buddhists light candles, burn incense, and count beads while uttering mantras to the spirits. The Catholics light candles, burn incense, and count rosary beads while uttering mantras to Mary. The Hindus and Buddhists pray to images of the gods; the Catholics pray to images of the saints. The Hindus burn the bodies of loved ones and cast them into the river; the Catholics gather the bones of loved ones and cast them under a church. Whether it be Shiva, Krishna, Buddha, the Madonna, or Saint So-and-So, the words of the Apostle Paul ring true:
All manmade religion is the same. All manmade religion is bondage. All manmade religion leads to death and destruction. Praise God, Jesus Christ frees from the bondage of manmade religion.
On Sunday, after worshipping with some solid believers at Eternal Grace Bible Church, we hit up a plaza in Miraflores, the tourist area. Again, it was fun to preach in the open-air, and we had some great translators who love the Lord. Gospel tracts went out to people from several different countries.
Later, as we walked the avenues looking for the hostels that Israelis typically frequent in Miraflores, we ran into a few lost sheep from the House of Israel and were able to communicate biblical truth about Messiah and disseminate Hebrew Gospel tracts. On young man, who was returning to Israel the next day, was encouraged by our love for him and listened with intent. Please pray for Efi.
Our last full day in Lima was with the kids up in Caja de Agua; and after the last group, it was fun to slog up to the summit of Cerro San Cristobal and get a nice view of the city of Lima lit up at night. As I did four years ago, I stood under the huge lighted cross and preached a brief open-air Gospel message in Spanish. It always a blessing to go back and preach in the same spots.
This past Wednesday, a taxi van brought us up to Huaraz in the heart of the Andes of North-central Peru. This hamlet at 10,000 ft. above sea level will be our base for the entire month of July. The Lord provided us with a nice little 3-bedroom, fully-furnished apartment that is in a great location and serves as a wonderful refuge. The landlord and his wife are very kind. Out the bay window is the view I mentioned earlier. Gloria al Dios!
These past few days, we have been able to get acclimatized, do some street-fishing, and climb up to a beautiful lake at 15,000 ft. There are a lot of trails around town that the Israelis and other tourists frequent. We typically start late so we can catch the people coming down. On Saturday, we did the Laguna Churup hike and didn't get back to the trailhead until just before dark. Praise God the combi driver had enough sense to know we would eventually come back and need his services. It's better to go back to town with customers than empty, I guess. Otherwise, it would have been a long, long walk back to Huaraz. Lots of tracts went out on the trail--a lot of Peruvians from Lima, some Peace Corps volunteers from the States, an older man from Poland, quite a few French Canadians, a guy named Charles riding his bicycle all the way to the bottom of South America, and a Jewish couple, both of whom were born in Peru. The latter took a nice little Scripture portion with Hebrew & Spanish readings from the Tanakh (i.e. our Old Testament) concerning Messiah. It was a good conversation. And, it was nice to give glory to the Creator for the beauty of the mountains in Spanish to those locals passing by.
We plan to do more of this in the coming week, as soon as Jay and I heal up from bad sinus infections and flu-like symptoms. I am praying the Lord will provide us with a truck that we can rent or use to hit these trailheads and preach in some of the nearby pueblos. Presently, I am following a couple of leads. Your prayers in this matter are much appreciated.
It's also been good to preach open-air in the local Plaza de Armas. That is one of the best ways to practice Spanish. I was surprised to hear a round of applause when I wrapped things up. Such would never happen in my country. Lots of Spanish tracts have gone out as we walk the alleys and avenues of Huaraz.
Already, we have crossed paths with quite a few Israeli backpackers. At one point, in the common area of a hostel where we popped in to gather some information about the Huayhuash Trek, Jay and Kyle were able to engage eight of them. One young men seemed more open and listened to the Word of God and took a Hebrew Scripture portion. At a popular local coffee shop for trekkers, we actually ran into four Israelis who had stayed some months earlier at the Shelter on the Lake down in Bariloche, Argentina and had climbed with and clearly heard the Gospel from one of my best friends. I reminded them that they needed to read the booklets they had received from him and take them seriously. These also took some Hebrew trekker tracts. It's a small world; and it's a true blessing to water seeds that were planted by others in the Body of Christ.
We have also given out our contact information and the location of our apartment to quite a few Israelis and some other foreign tourists, inviting them over for dinner and to "hang out." So far, no one has taken us up on the offer, but the invitation is out. Please pray that some will respond. A few nights ago, we stumbled upon a house that had a Hebrew sign on the front. It turns out that an Orthodox Jewish family lives there, and it is a place for Israelis to gather for Sabbath meals and other cultural events. The Orthodox rabbi who lives there saw me in one of the public squares. He approached and asked me about the Hebrew on my shirt that basically translates "God bless the people of Israel." I explained how a Jew named Yeshua had changed my life and why I am grateful for the Jewish people (cf. Romans 3:1-2). He stood there dumbfounded. Sometimes, rabbis like this set up in foreign towns that Israeli backpackers frequent to "protect" them from people like us and to make sure they "stay Jewish." There is a place like this in Leh, India and also in Kathmandu, Nepal. If these rabbis discover there are Christians "trying to convert Jews" in an area, they will warn all the Israelis to stay away from us, and suddenly they will avoid us like the plague. Please pray against this. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and wasn't going to hide it from this Orthodox man when he approached me. I didn't reveal anything about why I was in Huaraz, so he probably thought I was just an average tourist. I pray the seeds planted will somehow take root in his life. Moreover, contrary to his belief, there is nothing more Jewish than following Yeshua Ha'Messiach, the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the world.
Anyway, back to that house with the Hebrew sign . . . It was late, and the streets were pretty quiet. Suddenly, six or seven Israelis came out the door. They saw my IDF t-shirt, and a conversation ensued. It was encouraging to all of us to be able to communicate our love for Israel, share about how the Messiah had changed our lives, and to give them Hebrew Gospel tracts that my friend and I worked together to write. Some Peruvians were standing by, and a few kids were playing soccer in the streets. The Israeli encounter then opened a door for the team to play late-night soccer in the street and for me to stand and speak about the things of the Lord to a group of adults in Spanish for nearly an hour. I am amazed by how searching for Israelis puts so many different Gentiles into our paths. Since we left the States, Team Yeshua has been able to share with Gentiles from 16 different countries. Gloria al Dios!
Yesterday, the Lord's Day, we enjoyed fellowship at the Bible Church of Grace & Truth, a small Baptistic body. Those folks were very kind, and the expository preaching of the Word was sound and encouraging. Lord willing, we will join them for their weekly evangelism in the main square next Saturday. We invited numerous Israelis and other foreign trekkers to come over for dinner last night. The girls made a nice meal, but sadly, no one showed. Oh well, it just meant more food for us. We rested knowing that with each invitation, the Word was given out. That's all we can do. The rest is in God's hands.
Please pray for us as we try to arrange an 8-day trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash, a trek very popular with the Israelis. We have already talked to quite a few who have done it or are going to do it. Praise God, he put a Peruvian believer into my path who used to run a trekking agency. Now, he works with a missions organization doing Bible translation and distribution work for the Quechua people in their native language. He promised to help us arrange things. We will need 5-6 burros, a burro driver, a cook, and some equipment. He is going to help us find believers sympathetic with our purpose that we can hire for a reasonable price and thereby bless. He also said he would provide us with some Quechua materials to distribute in the remote pueblos. Please pray that the Lord brings all this together. We really don't have a lot of time left, a mere four weeks.
Sickness has also invaded our group. Please pray for healing for those affected and protection for those yet unaffected. Jay and I can't go anywhere today and we are both on strong antibiotics. At this moment, Kyle, Alexis, and Bethany are street fishing. Pray as the Word of God goes out "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
After the difficulties FPGM has faced going back to January, and with Team Yeshua 2017 on the cusp of being cancelled, I am humbled and amazed that the Lord brought everything together and is opening doors. In many ways, His hand of blessing is more evident and things are transpiring far smoother than they did in Ladakh the past couple of years. It really is a blessing to enjoy the freedom to preach the Gospel in Peru that does not exist in South Asia. I would even say that the freedom to preach Christ is greater in Peru than in the United States.
In all these things, Gloria al Dios!
If the Lord should lay it upon your heart to help toward this work financially, it would be much appreciated and prove most useful. For more information, CLICK HERE.
The Lord bless and keep all those who read this.
Jesse Boyd, President
Full Proof Gospel Ministries.