Saturday, April 30, 2011


We have now been living in Cusco for six months.


That means that one third of our time is already gone.


But God has already moved and worked so much, not just through us, but also in each one of us. We are privileged to be here, to be called, to be used. It is a privilege. And I am thankful.

But like I said, God has been working, a ton. As of next week, we will have started services, with places to meet, in three of the nine church plant sites! This is HUGE! Our goal is to get church services going in all of the sites before we leave for vacation, which is just a month away.

This is a big prayer request for us right now. We have contacts in all of our places, and are discipling people in all nine places, we just need places to join them together to meet weekly. So pray specifically for continued growth and a place to meet in San Sebastian, Lamay; Kathy and Emily's places Santiago, Poroy, and Anta; and Alex and Eli's last place Urcos.

I want to stress again how important prayer is for this work. We are literally ineffective without prayer. So pray for us. Pray for our places. Pray for our contacts. Pray for our partnerships. Pray for our mother church. Pray for our pastor and Extreme leadership. Please pray.

In other news, I have been continuing to work in San Sebastian. For us, the people out in the country tend to be more receptive to the gospel. But people in the city, like San Sebastian, don't think they have time for church/God/the Bible. So the work has been slow.

But I am still working in the battered women's shelter, Casa de Acogida. Through this opportunity, I have now met many different women (around twelve different women who have stayed for a short period of time). I have been able to play with the kids and teach them Bible lessons, and work with the women as well, sharing about the love of God. I have also shown a movie there, Magdelena (the Jesus Film from a woman's perspective), the week before Easter. The women here have been very receptive, and take time out of their busy Saturday mornings to hear what I have come to share with them. And everytime we arrive, the kids shout, "LA GRINGITA!!!" Continue to pray for this ministry as well.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

For more information about the goings-on in the communities where we are working, visit our community blogs (see left sidebar).

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Church of Oropesa

Check out the video for Alex and Eli's church plant in Oropesa, and remember to pray for Alex and Eli in Saylla, Oropesa, and Urcos, and Kathy and Emily in Santiago, Poroy, and Anta.

Also pray for me in Lamay, Coya, and San Sebastian.

He is Risen Indeed

A follow-up from Easter:

We truly had a wonderful day, celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

It began waking up shortly before four am to get ready and head out for a sunrise service in the Plaza San Blas, downtown Cusco. We were able to worship at literally the crack of dawn, and in our first language. It was a beautiful time, followed by cinnamon rolls (homemade by Amy) in our house. I then began cooking my speciality, sweet potato casserole for our lunch. We heard a little bit of Amy's dad's Easter message online, and then chowed down on a spectacular feast, curtesy of Amy and Tyler. We were able to celebrate as a family during this time.

And Easter Sunday was a rare occasion where all of the 40/40s were in church, which never happens because we work in our church plant sites on Sundays and never make it back for service. But we invited our contacts to come to church, and all made a point of being there. Alex and Eli ended up bringing sixteen of their contacts to church.

Pastor taught Sunday school, and then turned the service over to us. Eli and Kathy directed the service, and after prayer, we started with a special music, performed by Alex and myself. I sang "How He Loves," in Spanish with Alex accompanying on guitar. I remember while I was still talking about God's love for us while introducing the song, seeing one of the women from church tear up.

Afterwards, Amy read Scripture, reading the crucification and resurrection account as told to us in John. We then had worship time, which went amazing! Seriously, the best worship we've had at church in Cusco. Pastor was then introduced to serve communion, which we took as a church family.

And then it was my turn to preach. I still have no idea why Pastor asked me to preach, but I was willing, and was really glad that I did. I just prayed for God to speak through me, and I barely used my notes (which is huge for me!). I shared, obviously, the story of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the reason we celebrate. I mostly focused on the good news of grace, which is a message not generally proclaimed here. Man, it went really well.

Afterward, we had refreshments to continue celebrating as a church family. This whole celebration thing is a big deal here because for most people in Cusco, the festivities happen on Friday, which is the main holiday, and Sunday is treated like just another day. They remember his death, but not his resurrection.

But we were all really grateful for the opportunity to share the reason for our joy: our Risen Lord.

All glory to his name.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Extreme Peru Vlog #9 One Year

February 5, 2011 we celebrated one year in Peru

Exciting News!

Tomorrow night, Friday, 29 April, I will be holding our first ever church service in Coya. I have a contact who is allowing me to use his house, so I will be inviting all of my contacts as well as all the neighbors to come to church.

Keep in mind that the ONLY other church in Coya is the Catholic church in the plaza. Everyone says that they are Catholic, and are very skeptical of other religions/churches/etc. But once you reassure them that you don't really want to change their religion, you just want them to know God, then they are more receptive.

I don't know how this will go. I've already been working there for about six months. But I know that this is where God has called me to preach the gospel, and that is always an exciting thing.

So pray, pray, PRAY! It is necessary, and it works. So pray!

I'll take pictures, and let you all see and hear what happened next week!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cristo Vive

Holy Week in Peru is nuts!

Pretty much all Latin America, I think, but I have only experienced it in Peru. But this is the second Holy Week I have been subjected to, and in two different Peruvian cities, so I feel I can say with some level of familiarity:

Holy Week is nuts!

Everything shuts down: stores, transportation, restaurants. It all shuts down. I couldn’t even get a bus out to the Sacred Valley on Good Friday. Because everything shuts down.

And there are a million different customs and traditions surrounding Holy Week; each city and even towns just outside the city have their own traditions and customs.

Some people take a small pilgrimage in the early morning on Good Friday up a mountain where crosses stand in remembrance.

On Good Friday, it is custom in Cusco to eat “Doce Platos” (12 dishes) for lunch with the family. People who can’t afford it do fewer plates, but the idea is the same.

Thursday and Friday of Passion Week are official holidays, ergo, the city shuts down.

There is mass everyday, which obviously isn’t unusual, but people are actually more likely to go this time of year. They also have various processionals, Monday, Thursday, and Friday. They pretty much parade Jesus around, all done in remembrance.

But here’s the kicker: they don’t actually celebrate Easter Sunday. They spend all day Friday in mourning (arguably), but they forget that it isn’t the end of the story. And Sunday just isn’t a big deal. At all. They do nothing to commemorate the resurrection.

And that’s pretty sad.

And the truth is, this whole time of year has me missing home, and spending Easter in the States. I’ve heard it said that you can’t really understand a culture until you spend the holidays in it, but honestly, it is really hard to spend the holidays here, especially the meaningful ones.

Because of course I miss the Cadbury Eggs and all the other commercialized parts of Easter. But I miss watching the kids at my church hunt for Easter eggs. I miss being able to go to a Maundy Thursday service, or praying in my church on Good Friday. I miss the choir’s presentation (which my brother was in this year!). I miss saying, “He is risen indeed!” I miss the joy the comes along with knowing that “I serve a risen Savior who’s in the world today. I know that he is living whatever men may say.”

Because Easter is such a joyous time. Yes, we must remember Christ’s suffering, but that is not the end of the story. The end of the story is, “Now Jesus is alive!” That is what I am here to proclaim. So in the midst of a tiny bit of homesickness, my focus remains the good news.

And this is the good news: Jesus lived, and he died. And then he rose again. He conquered death, and sin, and hell. And he offers us life eternal, and God’s kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven.

Celebrate it today.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday by Steve Thomason

Saturday was a long and dark day. Not only did the disciples hide in fear for their lives, but even worse, they grieved deeply. Soldiers had carried Jesus off to his execution the day before. Now, their master was dead, and the grief cut deeply, leaving them utterly hollow.

They had not signed up for this. Jesus was supposed to lead them to victory over oppressors, establish a strong nation, and allow them to bask in the joy of sweet justice. Pain and grief were not part of the package.

         Perhaps you have felt like the disciples that dark Saturday. I know I have. Over a fifteen-month period, I experienced the deaths of a friend, two grandmothers, my father-in-law, and the church that we had planted, along with some other close calls. It seemed like everything around me was dying. I thought following Jesus meant victory and peace. All I felt was pain and despair. I wish I could say that I handled it with poise and dignity. I didn’t. I toggled between numb denial and irritating doubt. I wondered if I was to blame and God was punishing me for something. Perhaps I’d been duped and the universe was a cold, empty place.

         I have to think that the disciples had similar feelings on that dark Saturday, as if all hope was gone. We feel this way because we forget an important truth. The way of Jesus is a way of pain, grief, and sorrow. Jesus suffered much in his life—even before his arrest and execution. As a child he had to be hidden in Egypt in fear for his life. He wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. He agonized to the point of blood in the garden of Gethsemane. He screamed out as he hung on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

         Jesus told us it would be this way. In Jesus’ final teaching, he said that God would prune the branches that clung to the Vine (John 15:1-17). Pruning hurts. To have large parts of your life severed is not a pleasant experience. Yet, as the Gardener knows, without pruning there is no life.

         That is the way of God’s love and grace. God purifies us with pain. The disciples learned this and wrote to the churches about it. James said it is an opportunity for joy when troubles come because in the end it makes us complete. Peter told us that suffering refines our hearts like fire refines gold. Paul reached the climax of the whole process with one word—hope.

         On Sunday the disciples became aware of a reality far deeper than Saturday’s grief. They met hope. Jesus plowed through pain and grief and came out the other side. Saturdays will come, and they will be painful. But remember: without Saturday, we don’t get Sunday. Jesus’ love is our hope for today and forever. We will grieve, but with HOPE.

Suffering and Grace

Do I really want any partnership in the sufferings of Christ?

See, there’s this verse in Philippians that says, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11)

Paul actually says that he wants to suffer with Christ.

Do you know a single Christian in the world today who prays for suffering to come his or her way?

Somehow, I doubt it.

We generally think that since God is eternally good, all the good things come from him, and any bad things come from the devil.

But my thinking on this point is being challenged.

I read Philippians, which Paul actually writes from prison, and all I see is Paul rejoicing in the midst of his suffering. And then he goes further, and says that he actually desires suffering.

Is it wrong of me to read that and wonder a little bit if Paul was kind of out of his mind?

Because over and over in the third of the New Testament that Paul wrote, he talks about how the Christians of the age should expect suffering, and that suffering for Christ is a good thing.

Not a popular idea in our day and age.

But the Bible pretty much assures us that nothing happens without first passing through the hands of God. That his nod of approval precedes everything that happens.

Even the bad stuff.

And Paul states that the suffering he is facing and the Philippians face is graced to them.

Suffering = grace ?


There’s this book that is pretty much revolutionizing my thinking about suffering and joy, written by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts.

In the book she says, “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt, but I who am in his great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?”


“What in the world, in all this world, is grace? I can say it certain now: All is grace. I see through the woods of the world: God is always good, and I am always loved. God is always good, and I am always loved. Everything is eucharisteo.”

And my prayer is for eyes to see.

To be able to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

To see all the tough times faced through the murky darkness, and to know that God is there in the midst of it all.

I want to see.

I want to be content in all circumstances.

I want to rejoice in the Lord always.

I want to see.

I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and through that power, to share in his sufferings.

I just want to see.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bad Friday by Brooke Luby

(Sometimes, you just need a little sarcasm to illuminate the misconceptions and be free.)
Let me drag you down from the cross
I am strong enough, i have built my strength
Let me dip this sponge in some old wine
and try to quench your thirst
I watched you give everything for me
and I flat out said I didn’t know you
So please, just let me make it up for you
I want to give you back the 30 shekels that was wasted
I will get revenge for you, don’t worry
you will receive the reward of your suffering
You must need me
You must want me
to put on a red cape and try to fly
You must expect so much of me
After all, you died
Your kids are dying and no ones rescuing
Your teens are sinning and no ones stopping
the filth is everywhere
I can smell it and it makes me sick
But I am yours
I am not like them
I better get up and work while there is still time
You must need me
You must want me
to pull out my light saber and fight
You must demand everything of me
After all, you died
We are running out of time
It’s their will be done,
on earth, as it is in hell
Wait, what’s that ripping sound?
Does anyone have a sewing kit?
I can fix the curtain in your house,
I can fix the world, I am sure of it
It’s burning and all’s I can see is the fire
So let me train and prepare for war
I thought you said you were enlisting me
Isn’t that what you whispered, before you took your last breath?
Or did I misinterpret?
God doesn't need me.

God doesn't need me.

All my work, my ministry, my life, it doesn't actually mean anything.

Because God doesn't need me.

His work on the cross is complete. There is grace to cover all my sins. There is redemption. There is justification. There is salvation.

If only I could realize that I can't earn it.

I cannot earn something that has already been earned for me. I can't be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, motivated enough. On my own, I am never enough.

But Jesus Christ was enough for me. 

That is why it is GOOD Friday.

What I'm facing here is mostly a skewed gospel that says you have to earn your salvation. Your work, plus what Jesus did for you, earns your salvation.

But there is no Good News in that.

The good news is that we don't have to, and in fact we CAN'T earn our own salvation.

But it is ours for the taking.

If only we could realize, we can't earn it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Friend Ester

My former partner Ester temporarily returned to Cusco to take the rest of her belongings home, and so I thought I’d give you an update on her condition/life.

If you remember, she went home for Christmas, intending to stay for a short period of time to receive treatment for some health problems. She has greatly improved, but still continues having difficulties. So I would ask that you persist in praying for her health.

She found a job, but keeps being super active in ministry in Lima. She told me that God has not changed her call to ministry, only the place. So pray for her in her current ministry as well.

Her father continues to suffer health problems, and they carry on searching for a solution. Please pray for him as well.

I still love Ester, and now feel a sense of closure in her absence. But I am still without a partner, until June when I return from my vacation. So keep praying for me, and this ministry.

It is not easy. I knew it wouldn’t be. But somehow, I never imagined it would be this hard.

But God is faithful. And I knew he would be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Arab World in Turmoil

2011.04 - 2020 Vision Image

From an email I recently received from The WIN Network

In just three short months, the 10/40 Window has seen an unprecedented, multinational revolution.  Protests that began in Tunisia quickly swept across North Africa and the Middle East toppling governments and calling for change in a dozen countries.

Like the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, these events happened quickly.  The Arab world, seemingly stable, was suddenly thrown into chaos.

But the preparations for this time of upheaval have been in the works for quite some time.  Like a high tower with no solid foundation, many governments in the 10/40 Window are crumbling.  

Will Islam crumble with them?  Who or what will fill the leadership void?  What are we going to do to take advantage of this open door for the Gospel?

Prayer is one of the primary reasons change has come to this region.  God's people have been faithfully interceding for nations like Libya, Morocco and Syria for years.  And the Lord is responding, tearing down longstanding strongholds.

Prayer is also the key to the future of the 10/40 Window.  If we will continue steadfastly in prayer, seeking the Lord on behalf of North Africa and the Middle East, we will see a greater, more abundant harvest of souls than anyone could imagine.

Will you join us in lifting the 10/40 Window before the Lord?