a tale that is told
Time marches on here in Huaraz and along the days of this earthly sojourn. I am reminded of Psalm 90, penned by Moses at the sunset of his life: “We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (90:10-12).
Team Yeshua has three weeks left, my family and I a little more than ten weeks; but soon, the entire season will be a tale that is told. Should we all be found faithful stewards of the Gospel, then the tale will have been, as we say in Spanish, valió la pena (i.e. worth the effort) with a guaranteed happy ending.
Eric Trent parted ways with us a couple of weeks ago, and on July 26th, his wife Mindy gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Michael Theodore Trent. Praise God, all are doing well in North Carolina, and Lord willing, they will be heading back to the field in a few months.
Thanks to Brother Tim Mejia of Modesto, California who came down with his nephew Jimi to help chaperone Team Yeshua these past two weeks. Tim is a good brother who has supported the ministry for a long time, and like the Macedonian believers in their ministry to the Apostle Paul, not just with a checkbook but with his own self (cf. II Corinthians 8:1-5). He labored with Eric and me in Israel earlier this year, and has helped me in Nepal, Bangladesh, Israel at other times, and Peru last year). Team Yeshua had some good times this season with Tim at a helm of escort. We were able to host Israeli backpackers for dinner a couple of times, and seeds of the Gospel were sown here in town and out in the mountains.
One day, we traveled up to Laguna Paron, an incredibly beautiful blue Gatorade lake that is surrounded by snowy peaks, including the famous Paramount Pictures Mountain. Out there, we witnessed to two American climbers, brothers from Arizona, and to a newly married Israeli couple traveling in South America for their honeymoon.
As for Tim’s nephew, it was his first trip outside of America and a step of faith due to some health issues. But, he hung in there, got to experience real missions first-hand, and showed himself a real trooper, even trying his hands at rock climbing. Giving young people an opportunity to taste real adventure on a foreign mission field really is one of my greatest joys in ministry. Thanks, Tim and Jimi, for sharing your lives with us and Team Yeshua these past two weeks. Truly, it was a tale that is told.
Brother Robert Campbell, one of my martial arts students, and a faithful member of one of our supporting local churches, is on a bus from Lima to Huaraz even now as I type with his 10-year-old daughter Jocelyn, also one of my dojo students. He is going to help us chaperone for the final leg of Team Yeshua and assist in escorting them back to the United States on August 21st. Robert is a bold preacher and a true mountain man whose thirst for adventure rivals mine. These last three weeks with the team should be interesting and hopefully fruitful in terms of the Gospel going out to both Jew and Gentile. Stay tuned for another tale that is told.
As for told tales, I’m going to turn things over to Eric for the remainder of this update. He penned these words of reflection concerning his time with us in Huaraz. Since, he has become a father.
Shalom Brethren, I find it hard to believe that my time in Huaraz is done. I am very grateful to the LORD for allowing me to return to Peru again. It was a real joy this summer to proclaim His Word to the lost there as a faithful watchman. It’s also been a great experience to help train and disciple this season’s Team Yeshua. Whether through morning devotions, assisting Jesse with theological teaching throughout the day, or simply by going out with them and witnessing to people, both Jew & Gentile, it was a fruitful time for me. Indulge me for a few moments, for I would like to share a few personal encounters from my stint as a watchman in Huaraz.
One Sunday afternoon, the team members and I walked down to a local coffee shop to relax and fish for Israeli backpackers. It never fails: Israelis always seem to be hanging out at coffee shops or getting money at the ATMs! As we sat and a cup of coffee, my ears zeroed in on what I thought was Hebrew being spoken nearby. Sure enough, there was a table full of Israelis sitting adjacent. I knew I had to say something to these men as they got up to leave, so I simply exclaimed “Shalom, may God bless the nation of Israel.” I was quickly bombarded with handshakes and several guys asking me where we lived. After I invited them over for a meal at the team apartment, they quickly took their leave. I could have kicked myself at the realization that I had not offered them any Gospel tracts or Hebrew Scripture portions to read. And considering they were going to do the somewhat dangerous Huayhuash trek in a few days, I had really blown it! I immediately paused to pray that the Lord would allow me to see these men again and redeem my blunder. As we left that coffee shop, my countenance was very low. But, as we later walked toward the market, Josie spoke up, “Hey Eric, those are the Israelis that we talked to in the coffee shop!” It was true, and I praised God in my heart, thanking Him for His mercy and another opportunity. I walked over and immediately offered them Gospel tracts in Hebrew and explained what was written within, a message about Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah who came once and is coming again. They listened to what I had to say, and one of them even asked me what kind of “Christians” we were, an interesting question. My response was simple, “We are not Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witness. We are simply the Bible-believers and therefore followers of the Jewish Messiah.” It was a great encounter, and I praise God that He is merciful to His children when they ask of Him specifically, and He answers their prayers. If we encounter Israeli backpackers on the street, and they don’t end up responding to our invitations for dinner, we very rarely ever see them again. This time, it was different.
Jesse, Carter, Josiah, and I travelled up to Hatun Machay, a massive and wild volcanic rock garden at 14,000 ft. above sea level that is popular for sport and traditional climbing. We wanted to hone our climbing skills a bit and try to connect with some other climbers in the area. After a full day on the rock, we slogged back to the refugio, the place where climbers will camp and rest so they can acclimatize and stay close to the crags. As we walked through to Fernando, our faithful driver, I spoke to a man from Argentina. Since I had climbed in Argentina before, he and I made an instant connection, and I was able to share the Gospel with him in broken Spanish. He was grateful for the Gospel tract I put in his hands. I pray that he read it and considered its truth that night in his tent.
As we drove down the long dirt road to the Huaylas Valley and then back toward Huaraz that evening, we picked up two hitchhikers, a man from Columbia and a lady from San Francisco. I decided to ride with them in the back of the truck on top of all the bags to offer company during the 90-minute ride. Our conversation ranged across different subjects, like the difference between the Catholic faith and genuine biblical faith, the dead religions of Buddhism and Hinduism prevalent in Nepal and India, and the strange moment when they asked me what I thought about “obnoxious Israeli tourists.” Of course, they repeated all the stereotypes. So, I decided to dispel some of their ignorance by affirming that I had great friends who were Israeli citizens and had opened up their homes to me and fed me while I visited Israel earlier this year. I then explained why genuine Christians can and should be a blessing to the Jewish people when we have opportunity (Romans 15:25-27), for “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) and so are the Holy Scriptures (Romans 3:2). Israeli backpackers are hated in many places where they frequent, so these two hitchhikers were surprised to hear a different perspective. At the end of our ride, I offered each of them the Scriptures, English and Spanish. These gifts were received with gratitude. Please pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to these wanderers through His Word!
There is a local coffee shop in Huaraz where we enjoy hanging out. There have been some great witnessing opportunities there. One afternoon, I was sitting there along and preparing for a team teaching. There was a guy sitting across from me and enjoying an afternoon cup of coffee. In that moment, I struggled to muster the courage to speak to him. I played out several scenarios in my head, figuring this guy wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. I was prepared to get up and leave, but found myself haunted with the thought of this young man perishing while he was traveling abroad. Hell is a place of eternal torment (Isaiah 66:24), and this man would have to one day stand before God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). These thoughts plagued me as I sat there, so I opened my mouth to speak. And of course, it ended up being a very fruitful conversation. Trevor took an English tract from me after I explained that I was not a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or Catholic trying to shove my “religion” down his throat. Rather, I spoke of eternity, our finiteness, and the things written within the Bible that he would do well to heed considering our days are numbered. Trevor was a cool guy, please pray the Lord opens his eyes along his travels.
It was difficult for me to be away from my pregnant wife for a little more than a month. But, I took comfort knowing that family and our church were faithful to look after her (a blessing many missionaries do not enjoy). And, it is always very encouraging to me to hear that my wife is faithful sharing the Gospel back home in my absence. Mindy was on her way to the Raleigh airport to drop off her sister who was heading back home to Missouri when one of the tires blew out on our car. They were stranded for some time, waiting for help to arrive, when a random stranger stopped and made arrangements for the vehicle to be towed at no charge to us. What a blessing! Mindy took the opportunity to offer this man a Bible before he left. He gladly accepted it! Pray that he would find the Lord within His Word.
Huaraz in my rearview mirror, but the Boyd Family and Team Yeshua are still laboring down there. Please keep them in your prayers. As for my time there, I learned more about what it means to be a faithful watchman for the Lord. Yes, we must be quick to warn people of the coming judgment of our Lord! That is what a watchman does. The Word of the Lord has been given to us, we must be quick to speak it, “Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying:” (Ezekiel 33:1). But a watchman must also be one who relies upon the Holy Spirit, as He is always there to help us in times of sharing the Gospel, “...for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Strangers are our primary target, for in all four Gospels and the Book of Acts over 80% of the encounters were with complete strangers. We must speak the truth of God’s Word with boldness, just as the disciples did when they were filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 4:31). No matter what, all of our efforts should be bathed in prayer, that our work for the Lord would bear fruit. Our attitude must be one of selflessness, toward our brethren and to a lost and dying world. And in our efforts to proclaim the Gospel and bring glory to God, we must RIGHTLY wield His Word, not ignoring parts of it or rationing pieces of it, not corrupting it or wresting away sections of it, not rejecting a single jot or tittle of it. God’s righteous judgment is coming. Now, more than ever, faithful watchmen are needed who will properly wield the Word! Peace be with you all, Eric.
This season, six Hebrew New Testaments have gone into the hands of lost sheep from the House of Israel, and six King James English Bibles have been received by Gentile backpackers. Just today, the team met a young man from Quebec in a local coffee shop. He seemed lonely and hungry for conversation. He was very open and very grateful for the Bible. I love Jewish ministry, and one of the best parts about it is all the Gentiles the Lord puts into our path. So far, we have shared the Gospel here in Huaraz with Gentiles from EIGHTEEN different nations! Hallelujah!
Also, I finally translated our Trekker Tract into Spanish and am looking forward to a having some printed here in Huaraz in the coming weeks. We meet lots of backpackers from other South American countries out on the trails, and these will prove useful. Thanks to Ron Carothers, a friend and a former missionary to Guatemala who served the Lord faithfully there for many, many years. His help in this project was invaluable.
We are very grateful for the prayers and support of brothers and sisters in Christ who hold the ropes back at home. We continue to value and appreciate whatever financial help that Lord might lay upon your hearts. Donating online is very easy (paypal.me/zerayim).
Don’t waste your life as an untold tale. May it be a TALE THAT IS TOLD for the Lord Jesus Christ! “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Grace and Peace,
The Boyd Family, the Trent Family, & Team Yeshua