My family and I have been in Arequipa for just over 5 months now. During that time, I have accompanied Alfredo and Greg to a nearby pueblo in Mirador to assist in a community develop project that has since fizzled out. Also, I tagged along with Paty and Greg to listen to a business ethics class that our borrowers are required to attend. I have not yet taken the opportunity to be at the school for the library program, but the photos of the excited children provide a good assessment.
For my part, I have been involved primarily with CeDeTe, the center for theological development, as a student. This class is a great foundation for any new Christian or not yet believer. It is also beneficial for our Peruvian church leaders to increase their knowledge and their ability to talk about God.Thus far we have studied the story of Israel within the Hebrew Bible. We are just over half-way through the first trimester. Greg has done a wonderful job instructing, and I am increasing my biblical Spanish vocabulary. Just this week we discussed the covenant God made with David, and Greg pointed out how integral this occasion was for the people of God. In 2 Sam. 7, the prophet Nathan outlines the covenant God is making with David. I only want to point out two important features within this covenant. First in v. 13, God tells David that his son will build a temple and that David’s reign over Israel will continue forever through his descendants. Second in v. 14, God says that He will be a father to Solomon and Solomon will be his son. This language is powerful covenantal language from God who longs to dwell with his people (temple) and have an intimate relationship with them, never removing his love! This type of relationship between God and humanity was was to set in motion Israel’s calling from the days of Abraham to a blessing to all nations! Even in spite of her stubbornness, God, through the monarchy of David, would once again reign over Israel. And what would this kingdom look like? In Psalm 72 David prays for his son’s kingdom and his theme, I think, captures the essence of what CUDA stands for. Here is an adapted portion and may this be our prayer too.

May we judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice!
May we defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the children of the needy,
    and crush the oppressor!
May we fear you while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
In our days may the righteous flourish,
    and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
For we deliver the needy when he calls,
    the poor and him who has no helper.
We have pity on the weak and the needy,
    and save the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence we redeem their life,
    and precious is their blood in our sight.
May there be abundance of grain in the land;
    on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
    may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
    like the grass of the field!
May people be blessed in us,
    all nations call us blessed!
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!
— Psalm 72, adapted

Seeing Growth

I wrote some time ago about the launch of CeDeTe (Center for Theological Development).  The first class is now in its second trimester, which focuses on the New Testament story, self-awareness, contextualization, and the disciplines of meditation and fasting.  I very much enjoy teaching, but the true satisfaction comes with the students' assimilation of the material.  While on furlough, Paty and Alfredo decided to begin teaching the church from the first semester content.  I was joyfully surprised.  They are excited about sharing what they have learned and convinced that the church needs to understand the whole biblical narrative as the story of God's purposes.
I pray that a second class will form soon, that the program will grow and evolve, and that more and more doors will open to teach substantial biblical theology in appropriate ways in Arequipa.
Another interesting opportunity has arisen through our new community development initiative.  Those of you who contributed to flood relief will be glad to hear that a few of our contacts in the area we helped have come on board for a long-term development project.  After working hard to communicate the need to transition from a relief relationship to a development relationship, most relief recipients moved on.  This is the norm and the reason we do not usually invest in relief.  But the upside is that three motivated young mothers are now committed to collaborating with CUDA for the good of their community.  

I'll leave the details of the program for another article.  The new opportunity arose when I asked one of the three women, Lila, about studying the Bible.  She had expressed cautious interest before I left for furlough, so I was following up to see if there was a time she would like to meet.  One of the others, Irma, piped up to say that all three of them wanted to study and asked if we could just do so when we come for the development meeting.  So, Alfredo and I will start the book of Mark with Lila, Irma, and Delfina this Saturday.  Thank God for the opportunity.  Now we sow the seeds of the kingdom and pray for growth.

Recent Developments


We're through a third of the first trimester in the Basic Theology program of the Theological Development Center.  Abraham and I instruct four students—Cirilo, Emilia, Paty, and Alfredo—three afternoons a week for an hour and a half.  This trimester is an overview of the Old Testament, with a focus on the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study, as well as various techniques for reading comprehension and critical thinking.  Megan asks me how class was every time I come home, and my response has been, "Fun."  I'm having a blast.  More importantly, the students are really engaged, and I think the focused, intensive learning is already making a difference.  I was moved to hear Alfredo apply some our first lessons in his speech at the library inauguration.  Likewise, Emilia has been immediately sharing her new insights in her weekly small group with Megan and Areli.  I thank God for these Christians who are sacrificing time for class and homework in order to become better servants of God's mission.

Community Development

The flood relief effort has given us just the opportunity we were looking for.  By focusing relief on a particular area, we've been able to form more substantial relationships than a less selective approach would have allowed.  Abraham in particular has led the effort.  The outgrowth of this relationship has been the formation of an action group consisting of mothers from the cluster of neighborhoods where we distributed the relief.  We are helping to organize and equip them to mobilize their resources and abilities for community development.  If things go well in the next few weeks, we should be celebrating an official agreement between their newly formed organization and CUDA.  They have already brainstormed some initial goals, such as the formation of a community daycare or a kitchen for subsidized meals.  There are a lot of possible obstacles ahead, so pray for our work in this area.

Church in Arequipa: CeDeTe

CUDA’s latest initiative is called the Centro de Desarrollo Teológico—the Theological Development Center.  Since the published (on Facebook) description of the program is in Spanish,  I thought supporters might like a translation and a little extra explanation.