Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if a mission had an elite squad, their own “think tank”, their own group of veteran missionaries to call upon in unique and specific situations where experience and wisdom would be really helpful for knowing next steps to take? Let it not be a surprise then– the Latin America/Caribbean Regional Equipping Team is just such a group.
They are made up of a group of veteran missionaries, many beginning their years of service in Venezuela decades ago. They are highly educated, with almost as many doctorates as team members. However, they are not just a bunch of lofty, brilliant minds from the academic world. In fact, they are some of the most humble servants that can be found, with their hearts in grassroots ministry, in equipping people and helping them along in their various ministries throughout Latin America. These are men and women who have a heart and much experience in mentoring, in team leadership, in pastoral training, Christian education for both children and adults, virtual ministry, and seminary training. They may just be our greatest untapped resource in the Latin America/Caribbean Division.
Ernest Dyck, the team leader of LACRET, says that the heart of the team is to be right in the thick of ministry on the field, and not simply be in academic settings. Ernest became the team leader just this January, and says it is a joy to work alongside his longtime colleagues and peers in this new role. Ernest and his wife Effie work as regional specialists in church planting and training teachers in Christian education.
ReachGlobal also has the wonderful resource of a Global Equipping Team, that functions much in the same way as this regional team. However, the added strength of the LACRET team is that in their combined years of service on the mission field and years living in Latin America, there is a profound cultural awareness–they can pick up on many of the nuances of language and culture that many of us newer and younger workers would miss. They understand contextualization on a different level, whether that is in urban church planting, rural ministries, or in the educating of church leaders. Every person on the team brings a different field of specialty and knowledge to the table– Rebecca Rodriguez with international women’s ministries, Jim Panaggio with spiritual formation, Ross Hunter with equipping for indigenous ministries, Carlos Tejada with pastoral networking, and the list goes on.
Ernest Dyck speaks for his entire team when he says that they greatly desire to be used as a resource to the other teams in the Latin America Division as well as to their national partners. They would be honored and delighted to come alongside you, whether it is in a consulting role, or to help facilitate training of some sort. For more information, please email LACRET1@efca.org
This video was made for the 2018 Latin America/Caribbean Conference. Team leadership has changed since then, but the heart of the team remains the same. Enjoy!
So, hopefully you have read and watched this month about our team in Peru. You might be wondering, “But what can I do?” Prayer is always the best starting point, of course! After that, here is another short video on ways you can participate in this kingdom building work.
For more information on Peru and how you can be involved, or if you would like to set up a short term trip to visit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brooke Heaton is a nurse and part of the ReachGlobal Peru team through GoCorps. She is currently working in the area of Community Health Evangelism.
It is mid-morning and the sun is already sweltering in the community of San Francisco. We seek refuge under the shade of a nearby tree as we begin our next CHE (Community Health Evangelism) lesson. We begin by discussing the different parts of the tree – the roots, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves. You see, each part of the tree represents a part of our culture and our lives.
With our beautiful jungle tree in front of us, the first question is what they think the leaves represent. It is immediately determined that the leaves, which are like the fruit of the tree, represent the fruit in our lives. The consequences of how we live, both good and bad. In sequence, we work our way down the tree, and with continued ease they relate each part to their lives. The leaves are an expression of the branches, much like the consequences in our lives stem from our behaviors. Things like our actions, our thoughts, and our words. These behaviors determine the consequences we see in our lives, both the good and the bad ones. And the trunk? It represents the values of a community or culture. What we value as good or bad, as this determines our behaviors. And what determines our values? Our beliefs do. What we believe, whether they are truths or lies, determine our values which determine our actions and subsequently determine the consequences in our lives.
As we stand there discussing, you can almost see the wheels turning inside their brains as they process and understand, ask questions and come up with examples of each part of the tree in their own communities. It is a beautiful thing to watch them draw conclusions and understand deeply what we are discussing, to the point of applying it to their own people and lives. What amazes me the most is the very little prompting they needed to do so!
We return to our spots on the benches arranged in a circle in the one-room church, the half walls surrounding us, allowing a slight breeze to sweep through. Women sit with their papers rolled, swatting at the bees who are determined to get to the hives they’ve constructed under the benches. They are much braver than me, taking on the giant bees.
There are three pictures of trees growing in different types of soil in front of us. The first, a small tree that appears to be dead, the second a tree of about the same size with some leaves, and finally a large, plush tree full of life. Under each tree are M’s and V’s representing mentiras (lies) and verdades (truths). The dead tree is growing in soil filled with M’s, the next in soil with an equal number of M’s and V’s, and the large tree’s soil is full of V’s. It takes only one question to get them talking – What do you observe about these trees?
In a matter of minutes, they have come to the correct conclusion. The dead tree is not growing because of the soil it is rooted in. The lies provide few nutrients for growth, and the same applies in our lives. When we regard lies for truth, our lives look a lot like this dead tree, producing few good consequences. The plush tree, on the other hand, planted in soil filled with V’s, is full of life and produces many good consequences because of the good, nutritious soil it is growing in. It is surrounded by Truth.
We then take it one step further with this question – what strategy does Satan use to destroy people and nations? Reading several passages and keeping in mind the lesson of the tree, they quickly realize that Satan’s strategy uses wrong philosophies, false teachings, and even traditions to deceive the nations. He uses our very culture and beliefs to deceive and destroy us!
This is when my favorite part of the lesson begins. Knowing how Satan deceives us through our own culture and knowing that often our lives are filled with lies we hold as truths, we break into small groups to name these lies. And it is surprisingly easy for them to do so. Without hesitation and with little shame, the list of lies grows. And much to my surprise, laughter fills the room. They are almost making fun of these lies they believe. They cannot believe they believe them! They begin to realize that these lies keep them from working, keep them from building a strong family, keep them from living healthy lives, hinder their relationships, and so much more.
Here are some of the lies they named:
If you dream of a pig it brings bad luck and you shouldn’t go to work that day
If you hear a certain bird while you’re out in your field, go home or you might be injured or die
Selling salt at night brings bad luck
When a new bridge is constructed, someone is to be sacrificed under it so that it doesn’t fall
You pass a cuy (guinea pig) or a raw egg over someone to remove a bad spirit
Don’t sweep your floors in the afternoon or you will become poor
If you sit in your doorway your children will have different parents
It is easy to see how damaging these lies can be in our lives once we put a name to them. Easy to see how the Truths and lies in our own soil that we believe so easily affect our actions and therefore consequences. This is one of my favorite CHE lessons. Every time we do it. Not only does it help me gain insight and a little more understanding of the Yanesha culture, but it is so fun to see them get it. Like really get it. To see that lightbulb go on in their heads and their faces shine with understanding as they recognize the need to fill their lives with Truth.
CHE, or TIC (transformación integral comunitaria), is a community development tool used around the world to equip communities in identifying issues and using their own resources to resolve those issues leading to positive and sustainable change, change that lifts them from the cycle of poverty and disease. We have begun working with one of the Yanesha communities, Santa Rosa, in starting a CHE program. It has been so fun to participate in the first of the CHE trainings alongside of them and learn so much about their culture and beliefs. Many of the foundational lessons bring many of their core beliefs to light. I loved listening to their stories and seeing the ways they interact with the lessons and witnessing that “ah hah” moment flash across their faces when they understand what is being taught. These are beautiful moments and glimpses into the incredible things God has planned for this community.
CHE progresses slowly. It is an exercise in patience. And that can be so frustrating, especially from my Western mindset. It is hard to sit back, refrain from taking control or moving the process forward, but it is all about the community taking control of their own development. And in order for that to happen, I have to take 10 GIANT steps back. Maybe more. Surrendering my need to control. It is not about me, or my desires, or my vision of what could be. It is all about God. His timing. His glory. His purposes. His people. His church. His transforming power. And we could not be more excited to see how God is going to use CHE to transform Santa Rosa for his glory and draw people to himself.
My roommate Ellie and I are both nurses and have loved serving the Yanesha people through CHE over the last year. We are excited for the program to get underway! One-year in and we are loving it– we cannot wait to see what God has in store over the next year and the incredible things He is going to do among the Yanesha people.
This month, we will be featuring a few posts from our team in Peru! To begin, here is a short video about the current ministry and also vision for the near future with our ReachGlobal missionaries.
Here are some ways you can be praying for our Peru Team:
Pray that the Yanesha children and youth would come to know Christ! That the seeds that have already been planted would continue to grow, that new ones would be planted daily, and that one day God would grab a hold of every heart, revealing his love and grace, and they would believe in Him.
That they would be equipped in every way – financially, emotionally, physically – to graduate from high school.
Pray for their health, that children would have adequate nutrition and care to grow and develop healthy, that illnesses would not prevent them from attending school.
Friendships– that each child and teen would develop healthy friendships with peers and with adults in their communities with whom they can trust and confide in. Pray against bullying among peers, against gossip, and against any tactic Satan may use to divide and tear people down.
Identity– may they know that their identity, their value and worth, does not come from who they are dating, what they own, or any other earthly thing. May they know that they are God’s, created in His image, His beloved sons and daughters whom he died for on the cross. May they know how much they are loved by their Creator.
Schools– Pray for the primary and secondary schools in the communities, for the teachers who are working and living out in the jungle – that they would be have everything they need to teachwell, that the teachers would be eager to teach and have a desire to see these kids grow and learn, both academically and as individuals. That they would show up for classes each day believing they are making a difference in each student’s life
There’s no “typical day” as it depends on whether we are home or traveling, but we thought we’d share this trip we took in April, just to give you an idea:
Needing to coordinate some of the year’s events and catch up with the Yanesha pastors in several communities, we left early Thursday morning. We closed up the house, set the timed light in the living room, and packed up our Nissan Terrano. Several repairs were made on the car in Lima (electrical system, a new grill, and functioning AC!), so we were ready to go.
The first hour and a half up to Villa Rica is smooth…a paved 2-lane road winds from 2500ft to 5,000. It narrows to 1.5 lanes on the way to Cacazu. Having passed what was obviously a major landslide weeks before, we stopped to ask about the rest of the way, as no trucks had passed us yet. The owner of the exotic-game-restaurant-shack assured us the way was clear, so we continued on, on dirt roads for the next 3 hours. Thankfully, it rained a bit, making the whole first half of the trip cool and enjoyable.
Hoping to talk with Pastor Santiago Pascual, in the community of Santa Maria, we stopped about 2 hours later to look for his house. Donning rubber boots, we set off on a trail the neighbors indicated. We found him and his wife Teresa, finishing lunch. We were able to catch up, discuss and pray about upcoming events. His wise insights and biblical basis for ministry were refreshing. Their 12 children are grown and live on their own. They offered us a sweet rice drink and we were on our way.
In the car, we discussed work plans, and personal concerns, prayed, memorized a Bible story, and listened to music. The day had grown warm (94 degrees?), so we tried out our recently repaired AC. Closing the windows also implies arriving without a coating of dust over ourselves and our stuff. It worked well, but a clear liquid began to drip on to the floor of the passenger side, eventually soaking the floor. Was it water? Coolant? On my bare feet??
All of a sudden we heard a huge metallic crash. Carlos stopped the car and we jumped out, wondering what had fallen from underneath. Walking around the front of the vehicle, we found the problem. The new grill and fog lights had fallen off in one piece! Thankfully our curvy-dirt-road-travel speed never surpasses third gear (read: we did not run over it). Apparently the Lima welding job wasn’t enough for the kind of roads we were driving on. We hoisted it into the car, over the back seat, chuckling to ourselves, grateful it wasn’t the motor, and hoping we to find the right mechanic to weld it back on in Iscosazin.
An hour and a half later we arrived at Villa America, looking for Ps. Santiago Hurtado, to greet him and confirm the meeting for Friday. He was carrying his new baby granddaughter and wanted to introduce us to her. We checked out the church property again to discuss the training center building project to take place there, along with Ps. Jose Velasco (who lives next door). We found him teaching a group of elementary students to memorize Bible stories.
On our way out, we ran into the Mayor, Aydee, who asked about the Engineers without Borders team, affirming her support of their proposal to fix the nearby reservoir for the community.
Pastor Santiago didn’t let us leave without giving us two huge papayas from his farm. Saying our goodbyes, we headed for Iscosazin to check on the lodge situation for upcoming teams, take a shower, and rest. At a local restaurant, we had chicken and fries for dinner, then stopped by the internet café, our evening entertainment. 1 hour for 60 cents and we got to sit next to each other (a very affordable date : ). Getting a little work accomplished as well, we head to bed at the lodge around 9:30pm, since the mechanic agreed to fix the grill at 6am.
Car fixed by 8am Friday morning. Running into one of the Yanesha hermanos and his wife in town, we offered to drive them to the meeting after breakfast. After having coffee, papaya juice, eggs and bread, the owner of the small eatery (who we hadn’t seen in awhile) gave us some very hot coffee to-go in an empty Gatorade bottle. Compliments of the house.
Taking advantage of the local gas station, we bought enough to get home, and set out for Villa America. On the 45-minute drive two of the pastors passed us in a taxi, going in the opposite direction, assuring us they’ll be back soon for the meeting! There were plenty of other details we need to check on in the meantime, and we know this it how they roll.
Several pastors were already present; some we hadn’t seen in several months. We were able to catch up on the last few months apart. The meeting was fruitful as the group of 12 discussed the upcoming Yanesha translation of the Old Testament, sponsored by Wycliffe. The decisive meeting would be held the following week. Everyone involved would elect a team representing existing Yanesha church associations. The committee will then choose the translators.
The rest of the events of the year, were also deliberated: training center construction, school and community outreach, water systems, theological training, discipleship and Bible storytelling (Orality).
Later, we visited their local high school to coordinate for upcoming teams working with the 60 plus students. The new director was out, but we left a note, asked for his phone number and talked to some new teachers.
Pastor Santiago’s daughter-in-law prepared chicken and rice for lunch for the group, which we enjoyed sitting around their wooden table, sharing glasses of purple chicha. I had to ask Flora where her lovely blue drinking glasses came from…Avon mail order.
Our trip home was sans AC (all of the coolant must have leaked out), but our grill stayed on! Our hearts were full with the time shared, anticipating the opportunities in the coming months.
Remember our end goal? We envision an indigenous movement of healthy churches resulting in Gospel penetration and transformed lives in the next generations for the glory of God in the central Amazon jungle of Peru.
You can contact Carlos and Meredith and learn how you can get involved at:
“This is like a dream to me. When I, and many in my village, came to Jesus we wanted a church and they chose me to be the pastor. They handed me a Bible and basically said, ‘go for it’. Since then they have trained me as an oral Bible specialist, but I still dreamt of being able to study the Word myself. Now that dream is coming true.”
Francisco and the others who participated in our second course are all fisherman and farmers. They live on the Ucayali River, a tributary to the Amazon. They eat fish and
plantain bananas every day. Now they are feasting on God’s Word every day in a brand new way and they are “eating it up”. Due to their limited education, teaching them was a challenge (for instance, they had never worked in small groups before), but it was really fun and incredibly rewarding. Thank you for partnering with us so that Francisco, and pastors like him up the river, can learn to study and preach God’s Word faithfully. Pray for them as they pass the training on to other pastors up the river.