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
For those of us on staff in ReachGlobal, the names Gene and Gloria are very familiar. For those reading this who may be from a supporting church or just a prayer partner, the Van Den Boschs have been wonderful friends, colleagues and mentors to many of us through the years. They have recently come on board with ReachGlobal Latin America/Caribbean as part of the Member Care team. We call them our “Pastors to Missionaries”, and they will serve a crucial role of supporting those of us on the field. Today, I thought it would be nice for them to share their own story of how they have come to this point. We are so incredibly eager for them to begin their ministry, and I hope you enjoy the read:
In 1993, we felt called to go on our first short-term missions’ trip to Romania. We can still remember the Sunday when we felt God’s call to go on that trip. Missions was not something that we had ever thought we would do or even knew much about. God took us totally out of our comfort zone (even out knowledge zone). We spent two weeks in Romania and saw God do things we had never experienced before, we met people who had survived Communism and had such hard lives yet had a joy in the Lord and heart for sharing the Gospel that we had never seen before.
We went on our 2ndshort-term trip to Romania in 1994 and after that trip, we experienced a tug to return. God took us on baby steps as He called us back to serve Him long term. On December 3, 1995 we flew to Romania. Our two youngest daughters attended Black Forest Academy in Germany; our two oldest daughters stayed behind in the US.
During out time in Romania, we experienced culture shock, culture fatigue, language learning and building relationships, and learned what it meant to plant a church. It was in these years that our understanding of who God is and what God can do and our faith in Him grew more than at any other time in our lives. It was the best of times, the worst of times.
God brought us back from Romania in mid-2001. We felt God closing the door to us living in Romania but didn’t feel Him closing the door on being with ReachGlobal. We had developed a heart to care for missionaries because of our experiences in Romania. We had hoped to care for missionaries on the field, but God also closed that door to us. He had another plan for us; he called us to the EFCA National Office in 2002 and God showed us how we could care for missionaries in our roles there.
We have told countless applicants over the years that we were the poster children for going overseas unprepared and not ready. We believe that God gave us those experiences, so we could build an onboarding process to ensure that those feeling called to go would be prepared and ready. There are so many ways God met us over these last 16 years, so many ways in which He revealed Himself to us. He has grown us up in so many ways to understand who we are and who He created us to be and how we can use His gifting of us for His glory and to serve His people.
There are 3 things that we have said we would never do that relate to our life as missionaries. 1. We lived in MN in the 80’s when Gene was with IBM and we said we NEVER wanted to live there again. 2. When we joined the mission, we said that we NEVER wanted to work at the National Office. We currently live in MN and have worked at the National Office for 16 years. The 3rdis, we said we NEVER wanted to do Ministry Partnership Development (MPD) again to raise up prayer and financial partners.
In August 2018, we went to the Latin America Caribbean area conference and it was there in conversations with our staff, through Bible teaching times, personal Bible reading and prayer that God dealt with our ‘never’ of doing MPD again. We also believe that, while He released us from our roles at the National Office; as in 2001, He hasn’t released us from ReachGlobal.
God is giving us our original desire to care for missionaries. It is a role called Pastors to Missionaries (PTMs) which is part of our Member Care team. While we won’t be living overseas, we will be caring for missionaries through visits to their locations, through emails and through skype calls. Some of this care will be reactive as they have difficult circumstances in their lives; some of this care will be proactive as we give them resources to help guard their hearts.
We will be PTMs to the missionary staff in ReachGlobal’s Latin America/Caribbean division and we are very excited about this. We will be doing this on a part-time basis – we are retiring for a reason! The pull of grandchildren is powerful!
For most PTMs, it takes 1-2 years to build relationships with those on their fields. We are blessed to know our missionary families already as the majority have come through the onboarding process. We are so excited to be able to care for these dear colleagues.
During out time at the National Office, we cared for those preparing to go, through processes, details and tasks. Sometimes, caring for them meant hard conversations in which we needed to speak the truth in love. Sometimes it meant saying no, sometimes, not yet. As we look at this new role as PTMs, our focus is to listen and love them. How great is that?!
God is asking us to step out in faith to trust Him to what He has called us to in our repurposing. It is a faith journey that is not completely new for us; but this is taking us to a place of total reliance on God’s provision for us.
We are excited about raising up a team of people to partner with us in serving and caring for our missionary staff in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. We believe that anything that is done to expand the Kingdom of God on this earth through our missionaries is counted as heavenly reward to us. but also, to those who partner with us in prayer and finances.
In great anticipation of God will do!
Let’s be praying for and cheering on Gene and Gloria as they make this transition and walk through the MPD process this year!
Panama is a tiny but incredibly diverse country! In a wonderful way, we could say the same about our Panama City team. They are diverse in ages and stages of life, in gifts and strengths and ministry projects, as well as life experiences and backgrounds. It is always a joy watching them serve together and share God’s love with their city and neighbors.
Here’s a few ways you can be praying for our Panama City team in these next months:
For our church plant, Refugio de Gracia, as we grow in depth in the Word of God. You can stay updated on our church via the website here.
For the continued unity and growing maturity of our team.
For the pastors we are working with and for ongoing discipleship opportunities.
For a movement of more churches planted here in Panama, that God would turn this nation’s heart toward Him.
For new team member Sarah Kolaczynski’s upcoming deployment. You can stay updated on her news here on her blog.
For more information on how you can come alongside the ministry of the Panama City team, with prayer, financial giving or by sending a short term team, please contact team leader Jon Fowler, at email@example.com
“At the end of 2013, my husband and I were invited to serve as leaders in a Costa Rican church restart in a nearby slum, Rio Azul. We had prayed for years that God would open doors so that we could participate on just such a team and were blown away by God’s goodness to provide such a wonderful opportunity. Since accepting the position, we now regularly teach, serve on the worship team, co-lead the Sunday school, preach, lead a Bible study, teach music and English classes and serve in a variety of other ways.”
Dave and Angie Ziel are ReachGlobal missionaries serving in San José, Costa Rica, since November 2011. Learn more about their life and ministry on their blog, Ziels in LA.