Come on, you didn't think I could tell you all of the amazing things God did in Cusco in one post, did you?
A chocolatada is a hot chocolate night. We had a couple of them in various communities in Cusco. The first one was held in the new church, aka the first floor of our house. So last Sunday afternoon, we went out and started inviting people to have free hot chocolate in that three-story building on the hill. (It stands out a little.) While walking around the plaza, around 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon, there was beer everywhere. Lots of drunk people or people on there way. But we had about 100 people come to the hot chocolate night, and watch a film about Felix Vargas. And 40 people gave there lives to Christ!
We did the same thing in Oropesa, one of my church plant sites. About 80 people came and drank hot chocolate, and after the video, when Ester gave the call to accept Christ, about 12 adults committed their lives to Christ. And I got to tell them that we want to get to know them and visit them and share about Christ with them.
I have written before about my call to unreached people groups. I know that I am exactly where God wants me, but part of my heart is being pulled toward the 10/40 window, and reaching people who have no access to the gospel, especially Muslims.
Now Peru is a Catholic country. So who would have thought I would meet a Muslim here?
But I did. At my house in Cusco. At the hot chocolate night.
A man raised his hand to accept Christ, but when Ester went to take his information so that we can follow-up with him, he told her he was Muslim.
So Ester came to tell me, because she knows my interest in Islam (we did a class project on Islam), and told me I should go talk to him.
So when I got there, Alex was talking to him, and we all prayed together. And I continued talking to him.
And I tell you, it was like Jeremiah 1, with God himself putting words in my mouth.
I have never spoken Spanish like that.
But I shared with him what the gospel actually means, and where the differences are, and what the grace of God means, and how Jesus Christ is the Son of God and God the Son!
And he said he was curious, would visit the church, and we are going to keep talking so that he knows the gospel!
On Friday, we went to visit our communities where we are going to start churches!
Now Cusco is a very small team. We were supposed to have six pairs working there, planting three churches each. But now we only have three pairs. And there is a lot of work to do in Cusco. But we are a very determined team, and know we will plant more than nine churches in Cusco.
All that to say, when I talk about my church plant sites, these are the three I am officially assigned, as of now. But I will be working in many more sites, wherever God will use me!
Everyone always talks about what a hard mission field Cusco is.
It is true.
All the pastors there have had really difficult times. It is a land flooded with darkness. There are strongholds there that have existed for generations. There is Catholicism, but it is grossly distorted and mixed in with Incan beliefs.
This is a very common site in Cusco. At the top of most people's homes, there is a cross with two bulls, Incan images of protection, on either side of the cross of Jesus Christ. In many cases, the Spaniards built Catholic churches or monasteries on top of Incan religious sites. But instead of replacing one religion with another, the two are now mixed (this is called syncretism).
So, I visited my church plant sites with a couple of short-termers to pray and anoint the ground.
We started in Oropesa...
Then we carried on to Larapa, a part of San Jeronimo...
Larapa surprised me. You see, I generally picture myself hanging out with people in slums. Hanging out with the least of these. But you won't find them in Larapa.
In Larapa, you will find a residential zone with lots of nice apartments and houses. There was construction going on in nearly every corner. It is a beautiful, up and coming, prosperous neighborhood. This is where the well-off live in Cusco, most likely educated people. It definitely wasn't what I had imagined. Because Ester and I had developed a plan. We were going to start a consultorio (where she could see patients and offer medical help) and an english school. Being so close to our house/church in San Jeronimo, we were going to run this out of the church. But guess what? People living in Larapa have the money to go to a clinic. They can send their kids to a nice school where they can learn English. So there goes our plan. But if one of the pairs is going to start a church in Larapa, it has to be Ester and I. Ester went to university and had a career, so she will be respected here. So we are just praying for God to give us a new vision for how to reach the people here.
And we finished in San Sabastian...
San Sebastian is kind of the middle ground between the rural class in Oropesa and the upper class in Larapa. It seems to be a commercial part of town. And we already have several contacts there who we will follow up with, and they could be the beginning of the church there.