The title of this post is “To infinity and beyond.”
Why, you ask?
Well, not only did the Cusco family watch Toy Story 3 this past week (and I cried!), but this is our favorite quote for our work.
That’s right, we have finished our first week as full-time missionaries planting churches.
And we have gone to infinity and beyond.
The hard work has begun. Pounding the pavement. Except in this case it is more like pounding the dirt and gravel roads.
It is hard, but it is amazing.
Like we visited the pueblos of Lamay and Coya on Wednesday and walked miles on dirt roads by a river in the middle of nowhere, checking out Lamay and its surrounding communities. We stumbled upon an NGO-run orphanage where we want to do a kid’s festival, and found out a little more about these two pueblos that are almost completely lacking any Christian presence.
On our second trip to Lamay, we were praying for God to guide our steps, and I believe he did. We met a woman in the small community that is about a twenty minute walk from the center of town, and began to talk to her about the gospel. She told us that in the small community, they do have a Christian church meeting in a house, and that she attends. She started crying when she told us about how she and her husband have fought because he doesn’t want her to go to the church. The people in her town treat her like an outcast for going to the Christian church.
Modern-day persecution in one of our church plant sites.
But we were able to pray with her and give her encouragement.
So from there we went to a different community in Lamay, and the first house we went to we started to share the gospel again after a bit of conversation, and the man started asking us about the Trinity, if God was a monster with three heads or what? He really just wanted to distract us, but he said we could come back and share more. Later on we were told that there is one Jehovah’s Witness family in the community, presumably this man and his family, and they don’t have a very good reputation in the community.
In this same community, most of the people make Chicha de Jora, which is the alcohol of the Incas. They say it isn’t very strong, and that it isn’t for getting drunk, but at the quantities that they drink it, alcoholism is definitely a problem. But we found some open doors in the VERY Catholic community. And we will continue visiting the families we have made contact with.
Now these first few weeks, or possibly the whole month of November, is set aside for getting familiar with the communities and planning what we will do to plant three churches during our eighteen months in Cusco. So that’s what we did last week.
In San Jeronimo, which is where we live, we have explored and followed up on contacts. Back in June during the Love Extreme project, we had a medical clinic in the church, and have dozens of contacts from that. So we have been calling them, setting up dates to come see them, and visiting their houses. We have had the opportunity to go to several houses already, and pray with people and share about Christ’s love.
One family we visited was really nice, and the visit was going really well. We prayed and shared about Jesus, and asked if we could come back and visit. They were hesitant, and asked us to please not be offended. Then they began to share with us their “religious history,” if you will: how they have been Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, Catholics, and they are currently attending a Mormon church. They were afraid to tell us that! But we just gave them an invitation to come visit the church sometime, and they were very kind.
Keep praying for our visits, that we will have open doors to begin cell groups to disciple new believers.
Our final church plant site is the very large area of San Sebastian and Wanchaq. Just to give you a little history, several decades ago, there was a Nazarene church in Wanchaq, but for some reason, it died out. So we have combined the district of Wanchaq with the district of San Sebastian.
However, we weren’t really familiar with Wanchaq, so we went to check it out on Thursday of last week. There was something going on in the Plaza, and scores of people had gathered to celebrate something. We later found out that it was the anniversary of Tupac Amaru’s death, the last Incan emperor before the fall of the empire to the Spanish. Ester gave me a little history lesson!
And so we had a perfect opportunity to just hang out in the Plaza and talk to people. We met a woman who works in the tourist industry (just about everyone does), and she wants us to call her and come visit her some time.
One step at a time. That’s kind of the theme for us right now. One bus ride at a time. One phone call at a time. One contact at a time. One open door at a time. One convert at a time. One cell group at a time. One discipleship lesson at a time. And finally, one new church at a time.