Arriving in Lima late night June 7, I was met by our daughters, Maria Momojara and Debora Meca, and our friend, Bernabe Ardilles. I spent the night at the Ardilles home, and then left Wednesday evening for Trujillo, accompanied by our daughter, Maria, who translated for me throughout the trip.
My primary purpose of traveling to Peru this summer was to participate in the annual pastors and leaders convention of the National Association of Evangelical Churches of Christ of Peru to the Nations. I have previously written of the challenges the Evangelical Church of Christ is facing. The president of the denomination, Pastor Eli Chavez, had pleaded with me to attend the convention to help restore stability to the churches.
Thursday at the conference I received a word of correction from the Holy Spirit as I sat through the rest of the morning’s activities. I was ordained into the denomination as an apostle several years ago, but had been hesitant to fully function in that role for a number of reasons I elaborated in an earlier report. In my heart I heard the Spirit say, “Quit apologizing for the apostolic office and start operating in it. They didn’t call you to that office; I did.” I preached from then on with such a new boldness that Pastor Juan de Dios Huaman, outgoing president and apostle to the denomination, said he saw a maturity in my ministry. That’s a God thing, indeed!
That day at the convention my message was on the qualities of a Christian leader. First, I said that our ultimate example of leadership is Jesus. Then, using as my opening text 2 Timothy 2, I outlined the characteristics Paul encouraged his son in the faith to exhibit. After listing several other leadership traits, I then went to Philippians 2 to illustrate Jesus’ example that true leadership is born out of a servant’s heart.
Following the message I gave a salvation altar call. You would think that in a pastors and leader’s conference there would not be a significant numerical response to a salvation call. But of the 150 or so present in that session, about 25 came forward to receive Jesus, including two pastors! Glory!!!
Friday I was not scheduled to speak, so I took the morning off to visit with our dear friends, Pastor Primitivo and Daisy Garey. Both of them have been struggling with major health issues. Daisy had been to several doctors for a disease that was zapping her strength for some time. And Pastor Primitivo had been battling diabetes for several years, and had suffered renal failure as a result. He has been on dialysis three days a week for several months now.
Thankfully, when Maria and I met with them Daisy had been miraculously healed in this past year. But Pastor Primitivo had continued to battle his maladies, and was unable to do much more than leave their home to go to the dialysis clinic. I asked them to lunch, and Primitivo, at first, refused. But with much insistence from Daisy and me, he finally agreed, and we went to an Italian restaurant downtown.
Following lunch, Maria and I were planning to share a taxi with the Gareys to their home, then go on to the conference. But Pastor Primitivo wanted to go for a walk—something he had not felt up to for several months. Alleluia! We would see the Gareys again on Sunday evening when I would preach at their church, and I’ll share more about that a little later. We went back to the conference and remained there for the rest of the day.
Saturday I preached twice at the convention. My first message was from 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. I shared that David had a word. In verse 29, after David’s oldest brother, Eliab, criticized David for hanging around to see the battle, David’s response was, “Is there not a ‘cause’”. But that word in Hebrew should be translated “word”. I then shared that David expressed his willingness to fight in verse 32. When King Saul doubted David’s ability to fight the giant, David shared is witness—his testimony about his previous victories against the lion and the bear. And, finally, after turning down the offer of Saul’s armor, David used the way God had given him to fight, his sling and a stone.
So the message is that, when we have a word from God, we need to be willing to do what that word says. We need to remember our witness—our testimony of our past victories in Christ. And, finally, we need to answer His call in the way He gives us to answer, and not to try to do it somebody else’s way.
But the message within the message was for the pastors. Saul represented the current generation leadership in Israel, and David the next. When David had a word his first opposition came from those closest to him. Many times, when we hear a word from God our greatest opposition comes from those who know us best, and it’s often the older ones.
When David was willing to fight, he encountered opposition from Saul, who said David wasn’t old enough. Once Saul agreed to allow David to fight Goliath, Saul wanted David to use the king’s armor. When the younger generation is willing to fight, the older generation is hesitant to release them. Then, if they do, the older generation wants the younger generation to do it the older generation’s ways. And, finally, when David succeeded, Saul was jealous of his success and tried to kill David.
So the real message is: 1) We have to listen to what the next generation is saying; 2) we have to be willing to release them to answer God’s call on their lives; 3) we have to let them use the gifts and talents God has given them, and not try to force them to use the old ways; and 4) we can’t be jealous of their success.
Finally, I asked all the pastors over 40 to stand and 16 stood up. Then I asked the pastors under 40 to stand, and there were only two. My charge to them, then, was to quit running off the younger pastors and, instead, raise them up and release them to minister. Then I had those over 40 pray for those under 40 who were in pastoral ministry or felt a call to ministry. It was a moving time as the older prayed for the younger and pledged to help them fulfill their callings.
Saturday evening I closed the conference with a message from Matthew 9. There are seven event srecorded in the chapter, and in four of them Jesus either offends the religious leaders or refers to them in an offending way. I was addressing the issue of the split in the denomination over control of its direction. In concluding the chapter, we read that seeing the multitudes, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Then, in the first verse of chapter 10, Jesus sent the 12 into the field. My final charge was to not worry about those religious leaders who have become offended and left because they didn’t want change, but to do what Jesus called us all to do: heal the sick, raise the dead and win the lost.
Time will tell if my messages had any impact. In the meantime, I have committed to provide more apostolic support to the Evangelical Church of Christ through regular communication with the pastors, and more regular contact with its leaders.
Following my meeting with Pastor Primitivo and Daisy on Friday I sought the Lord regarding what He wanted me to preach at their church on Sunday evening. The more I prayed, the more convinced I became that I should share God’s Word about His promises, especially the promise of health and healing. Beginning with 2 Corinthians 1:20, I established through His word that ALL of God’s promises are given to us through Jesus, and we receive them through our “Amen.” Through that God is glorified. I then shared scriptures on healing, assuring the congregation that if God promises and Jesus delivers, it’s done when we accept it. Having established that truth, I told the congregation that asking Jesus to heal is to ask Him to do something He’s already done; we need by faith to add our “Amen.” I then asked Pastor Primitivo to come forward, and the elders of the church to join me as we prayed over Pastor Primitivo according to James 5:14, and put our “Amen” to the promise. Pastor Primitivo feebly came forward and as we prayed, his skin color transformed from yellow to pink, a good sign.
After praying over Pastor Primitivo, I invited others who needed a healing touch to come forward, then asked the remainder of the congregation to come pray over them. There were several immediate manifestations of God’s healing power, including the disappearance of carpel tunnel syndrome symptoms and arthritis stiffness. All this is to glorify God, according to 2 Corinthians 1:20.
Before closing the service I asked Pastor Primitivo’s daughter and fiancé, David, to come forward and allow me to pray for them. They are getting married in September, and David will be set in as Sr. Pastor shortly afterwards. When I asked Pastor Primitivo and Daisy to join me, Pastor Primitivo jumped up out of his chair and came boldly forward to join me. We rejoice in this manifestation and expect a report of his complete healing.
At the close of the service I did a salvation invitation, and around thirty responded, including Pastor Primitivo and Daisy’s older daughter, Lizbeth, who had become a “prodigal”. Praying with her for restoration to the family of God was a crowning event to the evening.
We returned to Lima Sunday night following the service. Monday I had lunch with our good friends, Pastor Julio and Soledad Romero. The Romeros are the ones who talked Marsha and me into going to Peru in 2000, and we have no regrets for their having done so. Then, I had dinner with our first Peruvian kids, Pastor Jose and Raquel Vincente, and our grandchildren, Jose Andres and Maria Angelica. Following dinner I ministered at a leadership meeting at their church. Following a short discussion with them about Mark 16, the Great Commission, I held an open forum to answer any questions about calling, ministry or anything else their minds. Afterwards I invited those who either weren’t sure about their salvation, or knew they weren’t saved, to come for prayer. You would think that in a leaders’ meeting most would have salvation assurance. But around twenty-five responded, including our granddaughter, Maria Angelica. Her dad had prayed with her for salvation about three years ago, and I had the honor of praying with her, along with the others, for assurance of salvation based on Romans 10: 9, 10 and 13.
Tuesday I had lunch with Jose “Pepe” Ortega and his wife, Annie Borjas. The two are internationally known musicians and singers and long-time friends. Then I spent the afternoon at the Ardilles’ home. Another one of our “sons”, Jose Navarro, came by for a visit while I was there. Then I went to the Evangelical Church of Christ in San Martin for a leadership meeting and dinner before leaving for the airport and the return home.
Thank you so much to everyone who partnered with me with your prayers and support. Our next trip is in October. We plan to take a team with us, and I’ll share details of that trip as they begin to unfold. God bless.