Beautiful Wife

8 weeks left!


EGM in Amazonas, Peru

Strategy. Enterprise. A lot of people tell us that the way EGM empowers national leaders to lead their own ministry is too messy, its too hard, its not as fast and effective as a hierarchy of authority, a top-down approach. We say, we know! It is hard - its messy - it makes for many ministry challenges. But we at EGM believe in national leadership. We cherish the diversity of languages, cultures and customs that God has created on this earth and we want to support that by refusing to do missions the way missions has been done for so long. We believe that this is the way to long-term, sustainable ministry.

For EGM it's not all about numbers, time-tables and risk evaluations. Sometimes it's about values and heart and doing what we believe in.

In the effort to create a broad network of ministry contacts and find potential board candidates for a future EGM-Peru, we should spend our time in major cities. We should meet with important people who have busy schedules and secretaries and ride in crazy taxis on crowded highways. But we wanted it to be known from the beginning that EGM will not be another ministry centralized only in the capital city, reaching thousands with ease, but neglecting the fewer who have the most critical need.

So our first ministry trip was to a remote location where we were invited by contacts to share about EGM's ministry. We sat in a small concrete room and spoke to 30 people, some church leaders some not, and told them how much God loves the children in their town and that EGM wants to help them as churches, fulfill the Great Commission to reach children with the love of Jesus. A few days later we presented EGM's ministry in a larger form by offering a training for children's workers. Since there is nearly no children's ministry being done in this town, everyone who came were either people curious about what to do or public school teachers, grasping at any training they can reach to help them in working with children.

It was clear that the need is great. It was with pain that we told them we were not sure when we could come back to help them more, but it was with great hope that we told them that we believe that not long from now God will form a team of Peruvians whose sole purpose will be to reach all of Peru with the leadership development and resources they need to minister to children in their churches. We asked them earnestly to pray with us that this come about - that God would continue to bring us the connections, raise up the leaders and the funding, and an EGM-Peru would begin seeing children transformed in Christ through His church.

A Week in Paradise

For us “city folk” a week in Amazonas was a little like a trip to “Little House on the Prairie” and a little like camping. Icy cold showers, dirt constantly on your feet and under your nails. Absolutely phenomenally beautiful surroundings: steep cliffs covered with jungle-like foliage, the sound of the river louder than any other sound, bright blue skies with puffy clouds, every color brighter and more alive than you expect.

The kids ran and played in the dirt streets. The front door was always open and the older kids in the house just took them around, or they walked two houses down to check on Elita in her mom’s house. We visited people’s chacras, their small plots of land where they cultivate random collections of cane sugar, fruit trees, vegetables and grains. We walked and walked up hills so steep that all of us were winded at the top, while the 90 year old chacra owner is trudging past us like he does all day, every day.

The kids were constantly entertained by chickens wandering around our front door, or cows and donkeys grazing on the side of the road, pigs and goats, cardboard boxes full of chicks and ducklings for sale at the market.

One day when Eliana was playing around a house where we were to have lunch, she apparently witnessed a chicken’s head be chopped off for lunch. She winced and said, “No lo mates! (Don’t kill it!)” And was then explained that this is how we get our food. She apparently accepted that answer because she never said anything about it and went on playing happily, until I told her we’re having chicken for lunch and she said, “Okay but I don’t want chicken with a face.” I told Elita (who told me that story) that many kids in American Suburbia don’t realize that chicken at KFC and chicken on a farm are the same until they’re practically teenagers. So Eliana missed her lessons at preschool for a week but learned a lot about real life, down and dirty, bare feet in the creation God made.

We took a zip line in a wooden box over a river to someone’s chacra on the other side. We visited a trout farm and a waterfall. We drove to a little town famous for manjar, a sweet kind of like dulce-de-leche, and watched them make it in a huge iron pot over an open fire.
For two people who have been struggling in this sunless, gray, polluted city, we spent a week in paradise and deeply enjoyed it!!

Muddy Feet

One afternoon during our trip to Amazonas, a knock was at the door. I opened it to a rainy, muddy afternoon and a very sweet elderly woman I had met the day before. She looked past me into what seemed to her a mansion: a two-story concrete building with a tile floor and painted interior walls. Behind the wooden sofa set with upholstered cushions was a kitchen eating area with a gas oven and a bookshelf full of pots and pans. In the back she could see a concrete stairwell and the door to a small bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower spicket on the wall that delivered cold river water. I interrupted her gaze with an invitation to come in out of the rain. She shyly looked down and refused, saying her muddy sandals would dirty the house. I insisted and she still refused, starting in on the purpose of her visit, right there on the threshold. After she left I thought about her in her house: a windowless two roomed adobe house with a corrugated metal roof, mud floors, one bed, one sink and a fire for cooking. I realized that little things like our encounter are the mistakes that make a difference. I let that beautiful woman leave thinking that her poverty and her muddy shoes were more important than the love and intimacy of sisterhood in Christ. As the norms of her reality are still in tact, I’m sure she never thought again about that conversation half in the rain. But I will think of it often. I have so much to learn about showing Jesus’ love amongst a poverty-stricken people.

What is a Missionary?

The history of missions is like the history of Christianity: rich and ours with a lot of good, but also stained with mistakes that cause us shame. Both the universal Church and the world of missions still struggle amidst expectations and misconceptions that we made for ourselves. So in so many ways it is really much easier and less complicated to just avoid the word “mission” and not identify myself as a “missionary.”

But as much as it is in my nature to challenge people’s preconceptions of me, I saw on this trip that no matter what I say or do, those expectations exist and “missionary” or not, I carry the name of Christ more obviously than I ever have before. In several situations on this trip I had the sense that, right or wrong, my white face and missionary status brought with it a representation of Christ that would either bring people nearer to Him or push them away. I felt the weight of that responsibility and prayed that God would avert people’s eyes from my shortcomings and see Jesus instead.

What pains me about all of this is that it shouldn’t be me, it shouldn’t be “missionaries.” This situation, in truth, describes all of us – whether teaching a public school class of 2nd graders, organizing marketing meetings, or preaching a sermon – we carry the name of Christ, with the power to unknowingly do incredible harm or incredible good for His cause. That responsibility to be Jesus in this world is for all of us to share.


Snapshot #1
Because of the bumpy and noisy ride we didn’t get to know our taxi driver much except to hear that he had one child, a 1 year old boy who was born with, what he described as: one side of his head higher up and the other pressed down. They had recently discovered a bump that was to be operated on as urgently as possible - so the doctors told him to come back with 1,000 soles, about $350 to save his son's life - an unthinkable amount to him. When we were almost at our destination, he got a phone call that his son had died. He continued, through his tears, not wanting to leave us in the middle of nowhere, but racing to our destination with his heart and everything in him pulling him the opposite direction toward his dead son and grieving wife. When we got out I prayed for him, that the God who had taken all the pains of the world on the cross and still lives, the God who had also lost His only son, would comfort, bring relief and show His love. And then we watched as he drove away with pain streaming down his cheeks like a waterfall.

Snapshot #2
Pablo is five. His father is mostly non-present, working in Lima. His mother struggles for survival and regularly takes out the frustrations of life on her son. He spends his days hanging out in his filthy clothes and sandals out front of their adobe house, playing in the dirt. He has been expelled from three kindergartens for misbehavior. He also has a severe speech impediment, his mouth working overtime with his tongue lazily motionless, leaving him almost indiscernible – definitely indiscernible to a foreigner like me. His family and neighbors condemningly describe the situation by accusing, “He’s five but still speaks like an infant!” Pablo played with our kids and their toys all week and when we left stood at the door of his house, at a distance, and expressionlessly watched as we drove away.

Snapshot #3
Marco is 35 years old and has had untreated Rheumatoid Arthritis for 22 years. For the last 14 years he has laid in his bed, muscles stiffened like bones, in his adobe house with no windows – the only glimpse of the world coming through the open door ten feet in front of him. His elderly mother cooks for him, feeds him, turns him to not get bed sores, and cares for his sanitary needs. Marco is a very bright man who went to school and had hopes and aspirations of a professional life and a life with a family. But things that seem simple in a modern world are completely foreign in a tiny remote town like his. Marco does not have his required identification card and is lucky to even have a birth certificate. Even with them it would be literally impossible for him to go to the other side of town to apply for state health insurance and even less possible for him to make the 25 hour bus trip to Lima for medical care, the only place in the country where a confirmation of his diagnosis, steroid injections, prescriptions or operations would be possible.

Snapshot #4
Percy is fourteen and has lived the last year of his life with his aunt and uncle, who took him in because of the severe abuse he was enduring from his mother. He lives with them contentedly, smiling all day, as he goes about his chores. He is, in essence, the family’s servant. When they go somewhere, he is not invited. During the day he does all the cleaning, errands and takes care of the two year old while the family’s other daughter his age goes to school. Percy, however, is only privileged with a half-day education every Saturday; the rest of the time he is needed at home to do his chores. Other than the two year old, who he cares for so lovingly, he has no other companions.

Snapshot #5: The most heart-wrenching for me
In these two little towns that we visited there are a dozen churches. There are hundreds of children. But as far as we could find out, not one church is doing ministry with children. Every child that we saw -- leaning up against their adobe houses, running down the dirt streets with bicycle tires and sticks, trailing behind their mothers at the market – is living in a harsh reality with no one reaching out to show them that Jesus lives with them there amidst their pain, that He wants a better life for them with joy and fulfillment, that the Bible is full of examples of God rescuing His people with grace and a new life, that in it they will read about Jesus holding children like them, marginalized and invisible, in his arms.

Out of all of the pains and sufferings that we witnessed, this must be the greatest: many of these children are living those sufferings alone, unaware that Jesus is waiting with arms wide open.