Our son Brett graduated from high school on Friday evening, May 16 and we had a few friends and family over following graduation. We made it to bed around 1:30 am and got up at 4:30 am to make the drive to Atlanta where we would catch a plane to fly to Lima, Peru for a mission trip. We made it to Lima around 10:00 pm local time and joined our group of about a dozen men. We hit the ground running Sunday morning with the group splitting up into teams and covering 8 church services by days end. I had the chance to speak in the Sunday morning service and teach the youth in Sunday school and preach again on Sunday night in another church. Brett was able to share a testimony several times in services throughout our trip. We felt an immediate connection with the Christians in Peru.

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After the Sunday morning service several ladies made lunch for us. I’m not exactly sure about all thefood on our plate but it was tasty and no one got sick! A 14-year old girl was in the Sunday school class I taught and shared with me how she recently was diagnosed and treated for leukemia. She has undergone all her treatments and currently is in great health according to her doctors. The people of Peru, much like many parts of the world, take seriously God’s power to heal. I have to be honest and admit I haven’t thought much about that for a long time. I’ve had challenges in my life but my health has always been good. Maybe that’s why I haven’t thought much about so many people in the world that don’t have access to doctors and the only hope they have is to call upon God to heal them in times of illness, injury or disease. She certainly was thankful for her doctors but the greatest part of her gratitude was to the Lord for healing her body. That was sobering to me. How often do we forget to thank God or acknowledge Him for taking care of us physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.

800px-Flickr_-_Ministério_da_Cultura_-_Acre,_AC_(37)While eating lunch a couple ladies told us about several visitors who had been with their church family for a month and just returned back home a few days before we arrived. These special guests were from a primitive tribe in the jungles of Peru. They had come to the city of Lima and stayed at this church for the purpose of learning Spanish so they could read the Spanish Bible and translate it into their native tongue in their village back home. They talked about how determined these men were to learn all they could in 30 days and get back to their village with a system in place to communicate the word of God to their own people. Most of the people in their village don’t read so they would have to teach them to read first, so they can accomplish the ultimate goal of getting the Word of God into their lives. They described the pages and pages of papers these men wrote and before they left to return home they piled all their papers on a the very table we were eating lunch on that day and dressed in their native apparel and had a ceremony to give thanks to God for what he had allowed them to accomplish toward translating the Word. The color for Peru is red so they painted their faces red for the ceremony and before they left they hugged everyone. The ladies talked about all the children who had smudges of red on their cheeks from hugging these men. Then one lady made this profound statement, “When we saw the red paint that was smeared on the cheeks of our children, we realized these men had left a part of themselves with us… they left their mark.” A lot of the children were wiping the cheeks of other children trying to get more red paint to put on their faces and arms. What would it look like for us, here in America, to have such an impact for Christ on our youth that they wanted to smear our testimony all over themselves. What a powerful picture.

IMG_0077One morning our mission team met with a group of local pastors as they shared with us about their current ministries. They shared how they had been led to start the specific ministry they are in right now and how they were going about reaching people. One pastor was in a community infiltrated by terrorists. He told about the terrorist storming in to his church and running to him while he was in the pulpit and threatening with guns to kill him. He stood courageously and told them he had nothing to fear because he was a child of God and if he died he would be with God in heaven. He went on to tell them they were seeking to control the city by inflicting fear on others but in reality they should be the ones who were afraid because without God they were on a path of destruction with no hope. The terrorist are now born again Christians and come to stand guard outside his church to protect them while they worship the Lord. This pastor’s faith was incredible and to hear of his unwavering commitment to take the gospel to dangerous places was a huge inspiration to me.

IMG_0146The day we visited the school of orphan children in the mountains of Peru was a highlight of our trip. I grabbed some boxes of supplies and headed up some stairs to an upper floor of the building. I lost track of a couple guys I was following so when I hit the landing I was caught off guard to see a swarm of kids around 5 years old running like a mob to ambush me. They were laughing, screaming and hugging me around the knees until I just about fell to the ground. They knew some “Americans” were coming to visit and they were people that cared for them so they were ready to show how much they were excited to see us. It was an incredible experience I will never forget. We split into teams at the orphan school and three of us were asked to be in a prayer/counseling room. Children were told that they could come talk to us for prayer and counseling. I sat and listened to stories of small children whose parents have died, who’ve been abandoned and abused. We prayed over children who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse and even a boy whose cat died. Several children prayed to receive Christ and by the time we left it was as if we had stood on holy ground.

All the men on our mission team invested deeply in ministry to the Peruvians through sharing testimonies, preaching, teaching and giving of themselves through friendship that comes from a realization that Christ lives in us and we are used of Him by investing in others.

Pray For The Following Youth Outreach Ministry Projects:

  1. Mountain View Youth Development Center, Knoxville, TN – We are now in this facility regularly with a ministry to 100+ youth.

  2. Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, Indianapolis, IN – We are in the process of launching a new outreach team in this facility with up to 100 youth.

  3. Spring Brook, Traveler’s Rest, SC – We have been invited to place a ministry team in this facility to do regular youth worship services.

  4. Gainesville Youth Development Center, Atlanta, GA – We have meetings with the staff of this facility on Friday, June 6 to launch a youth outreach program.

  5. Midtown Educational Center, Harriman, TN – We are in this facility regularly doing a mentoring program with as many as 24 students per visit. Pray for these students on summer break.

  6. Teen Haven Youth Center, York, PA – We have been invited to take the Teen Haven Youth Center in as a part of our ministry and serve as the parent organization for them. Pray for wisdom as we explore this opportunity. Pray for Alex Mikusow who has led this ministry for 20 years faithfully and would be a member of our ministry team as he continues to serve these youth for years to come.

  7. The Franklin Table, Franklin, TN – Pray for this vital ministry to the poor in the community of Franklin, TN led by Scott Roley. The Franklin Table operates under our “ministry umbrella” and is doing a great work.