teamAREQUIPA has already begun its work in the mission field: the Tyler, TX mission field. And while some of the work, done by the two young moms on the team is sort of behind the scenes, I believe it will have a significant impact on the future none- the-less. I am writing from a mother-of-a-possible-future- missionary perspective.
When I tell people that I will be moving to Peru for 10 years, among the first questions that inevitably follow are (1) Why? and (2) How can you take that precious baby that far away and for that long? Allow me to answer.
On the “why” front, there is the obvious answer of “to teach people about Jesus Christ.” My intention is not to be flippant with this response but to assume that we are on the same page about the obvious and that the question is aiming for a more personal answer.
I desire to focus my time and attention on a particular section of the population: the children, specifically those who have no family to call their own. It’s not just about food and clothing for the needy. It’s about finding them to be as vital to the kingdom as Jesus would have and going well out of my way so that they know I am there on purpose, for them, because of Christ.
Imagine being an orphan in a city in South America. This would probably be due to your parents dying or being in jail or just disappearing. If you are on the government radar at all, you would be tossed into an orphanage, which is basically a juvenile detention facility for the kids who haven’t actually gotten into trouble with the law...yet. Your “play” time would be when the workers drove you out to a fenced-in field and let you run around. I picture animals being let out of the barn to pasture for a while; how about you? The reason for this secure entertainment time is that the facility would get in trouble if you ran away, so they can’t risk it. The workers really do the best they can, but there are too many kids and not enough adults to guide them.
And then there are those who aren’t in the orphanage, living on the streets or still with abusive or drugged out parents. They survive, but life is very empty. We talk easily about letting kids be kids, but they don’t have that luxury.
Imagine next that the government takes you out of that setting, either one, and moves you to a Christian children’s home run by an American mission team. You wonder why they are there in the first place, and they tell you that it is because of Jesus. Your family was just Catholic enough for you to recognize the name, but you don’t understand why He would be a reason for an American to come give you a home. They explain that Jesus told everyone who believes in Him to take care of those who are alone. And out of all the places in the world, they chose to come to Arequipa and find you.
I have been praying for the children of Arequipa for years, because I realized that most of those I will meet had already been born. They may already be broken. They may already be lost and alone. I can’t explain it fully, but I miss people that I have not met. I have cried for pain in their lives that I haven’t experienced. I long to hold them close, but I don’t know their faces or voices or laughter. All because I have prayed for them and love them.
This informs the answer to the second question. How can I take Shaye so far away from home and family? Because I cannot bear the thought of meeting one of those Peruvian children in heaven and being asked, “Why didn’t you come?” Any answer I might want to give - “Because I wanted an easier life” or “Because I didn’t want to miss family moments” – just is not good enough. God has burdened me for those little ones, and I cannot refuse that call. I have a job to do. Jesus loves the little children, and I must make sure they know that.
Our fundraising journey has been one of faith and disappointment. We have been in ‘fundraising’ mode since January 2006, and the trip has been bumpy. There were times we thought we saw
clearly what the next turn would bring only to find out, yet again, that we are not in control. I believe God has used this process to stretch us, mold us, and form in us a testimony to His power. It turned out that all along He was preparing our home churches, our families, to partner with us in Arequipa. As we near the end of our preparation time at Shiloh I can see that all of our other plans were not quite as perfect as this one.
So far I haven’t told you anything new, I hope. Both Shiloh Road and Cedar Lane have committed to supporting the work in Arequipa, Peru for five years. We have been humbled and encouraged by their faith and trust in us. Though budget processes for both churches are still ongoing (though almost completed) it looks as though our salary needs will be achieved through their support! We are actively seeking support for our work fund and relocation expenses with the help of both churches. We have limited our seeking, as of now, to the Tyler and Tullahoma areas hoping that churches will rise up there. We envision two communities of churches partnering in a common cause and creating greater unity in those areas.
I haven’t given out any figures in this update; that was intentional. If you would like to know specifics feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I also want to let you know that our website has been revamped and has a few new features. On the main page (www.teamarequipa.net) you will find a “Support the Work” link. Clicking this will take you to a page where you can donate funds to us using PayPal. This is a secure way to give to the team and it has the options of being a one time or recurring donation.
We covet your prayers more than your dollars. We are finally learning to trust in Him for all our provision and the financial support takes care of itself. If you feel moved to support us financially know that you are an answer to prayer and we thank you. If you feel moved to pray for us know the same, we need your prayers. Together we will see great things done in Arequipa to His glory.
Many of you have asked what the food is like in Arequipa. Peru is known throughout the world for various foods. If you are a fan of french fries, pizza sauce, or sweet potato casserole, you have Peru to thank. I hope you are learning more about Peruvian cuisine by reading through the recipes featured each month. Aside from those dishes, in the next couple of newsletters I want to highlight some of the food that Peru is known for, specifically the food in Arequipa.
Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world. Thanks to its pre-Inca and Inca heritage and to Spanish, Basque, African, Sino- Cantonese, Japanese and finally Italian, French and British immigration (mainly throughout the 19th century), Peruvian cuisine combines the flavors of four continents. With the eclectic variety of traditional dishes, the Peruvian culinary arts are in constant evolution, and impossible to list in their entirety.
Suffice it to mention that along the Peruvian coast alone there are more than two thousand different types of soups, and that there are more than 250 traditional desserts.
The great variety in Peruvian cuisine stems from three major influences:
- Peru's unique geography.
- Peru's openness and blending of distinct races and cultures
- The incorporation of ancient cuisine into modern Peruvian cuisine Peru is considered an important center for the genetic diversity of the world's crops:
- Maize (AKA corn), 35 varieties
- Tomatoes, 15 species 3. Potatoes, 4,000 varieties. The International Potato Center, which goes by its Spanish name's initials (CIP short for Centro Internacional de la Papa) that is devoted to the investigation and genetic conservation of the potato, is located in Lima, Peru.
- Sweet potatoes, 2,016 varieties
- Fish, 2,000 species of fish, both freshwater and saltwater (more than any other country on Earth)
- Fruit, 650 native species. It is also famed for its large number of species of bananas. The variety of climate itself can provide for the bringing of fruits from all over the world.
From Peru, the Spanish brought back to Europe foods which would become staples for many peoples around the world:
- Potatoes: Potatoes, originally from Peru, were considered livestock feed in Europe until French chemist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier began serving dishes made from the tubers at his lavish banquets. His guests were immediately convinced that potatoes were fit for human consumption. Parmentier's introduction of the potato is still discussed in Europe today.
- Maize: Maize is native to all of Central and South America.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes were introduced to Europe from Latin America.
“Early Peruvians immediately identified with the festival of Christmas due to the rural nature of the nativity story, where the baby Jesus was born in a barn. Andean Christmases began taking on characteristics of their own, and it is probably the most important celebration of the year. The Andean people put together Nativity scenes in churches and homes, perform dances and plays, and cook typical dishes.
“Paneton (a cake/ bread filled with fruits) is very
popular as are hot drinks of chocolate. In the week preceding Christmas, it is also popular for communities, churches or organizations to organize "chocolatadas" where people who are better off make a Christmas gesture to poor children by offering them a cup of hot chocolate and perhaps a small gift” (Amauta Spanish).
“The Andean Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ with a Peruvian flare. Art and food highlight the celebrations and nativity scenes play a big part in the Christmas celebrations. Many of the scenes are carved out of the soft and pure form of alabaster marble called Huamanga stone.
Craftspeople also create Christmas retablos images. Retablos are a style of miniature carvings that when put together create a world of their own. The retablos consist of tiny human figures, animals, Christian saints, pre-Colombian deities, stars, mountains, lakes and anything the craftspeople can imagine. Beautiful carved gourds called ‘mates burilados’ decorated with Christmas scenes are also made.
“Gifts are not normally exchanged during the Christmas celebrations, but most communities continue the festivities until la Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men), celebrated on January 6th. Gifts are exchanged on this day” (Earthy Family).
As for Christmas sights that would be familiar to Americans, there are plenty of Western traditions in Peru. Christmas trees and Santa Claus in full garb are part of the holiday experience, although evergreens are not indigenous to the country, and December in the southern hemisphere is summer time. Not least, Christmas turkey is a popular and growing phenomenon in Peru. A recent article states that Peruvians will eat twenty-four thousand tons of Christmas turkey (Living in Peru).
Having suggested in my last article that the relationship between gospel and God's kingdom points toward a notion of evangelism that moves beyond simply bringing someone to personal faith and salvation, I want to look at the way we use some related words. The verb "to evangelize," which is a Greek word borrowed into English, entails proclamation in the original usage. In this sense, it will be difficult to be "evangelistic" without being prone to proclamation.
The first three months of our time at Shiloh have passed, and boy have they been busy! We’ve been teaching and preaching, fellowshipping, mentoring, praying, planning, plotting (just kidding), and preparing. Some accomplishments are more tangible than others, though, and I’d like to give an update on one of them. For the past two months we have been planning, dreaming, and praying about forming the Shiloh Mission Support Team and have already had two meetings! For those of you who aren’t sure what a Mission Support Team is or what they do, that’s okay--I really didn’t know myself until we started this process. Let me share our process with you.
When we made the decision back in June to move to Tyler we came up with a few big picture goals: obtain ministry experience, form a missions policy, form a missions committee, form a relationship with church body, and obtain a 5 year commitment from the church. Two of these goals-- obtaining experience and forming relationships-- are ongoing processes, and I think they are going pretty well. Two of these I can say are accomplished. As you will read in more detail elsewhere, Shiloh Road has joined Cedar Lane in committing to support the work in Arequipa for at least 5 years! As a team we feel incredible joy at having both of our home churches support us. God is good! Our other completed task is that of forming what we have come to call our Missions Support Team.
A lot of thought and prayer went into this project before we got started. While one of the responsibilities of the support team will be to recruit new members at need, it fell to us to draft the initial group. We asked seventeen people, from high school up, to prayerfully consider being a part of this group, and after a time of consideration twelve came back saying they wanted to join.
We are humbled by their desire to serve not us but the church in this role, and are grateful for their dedication to God’s mission. We have already met twice with this group, and projects are getting underway. Committee leaders have already been chosen for some, with more to follow.
Some of the projects that the group has started working on include the formation of a standing missions policy, planning an Peruvian Cuisine Dinner night, developing a regular “Missions Moment” for Sunday mornings, and preparing for our sendoff in February. The Support Team will also be our primary contact while in the field. Anything we need of the church will be asked through this group, with the knowledge that they will take it from there. The reverse is also true in that communication from the sending church will be funneled through the Support Team to us in Peru. By having dedicated advocates of the mission stateside, we hope to maintain a high level of awareness throughout the congregation.
I purposefully used the term “advocate,” because its meaning (to support or speak in favor of) really resonates with me. This Support Team will support us with their time, thoughts, prayers, actions and words. They will be the first to send us birthday cards or care packages. They will organize trips to visit and encourage us, and arrange for our needs when we return on furlough to visit and encourage them. They will be our advocates at Shiloh Road; they will be our coworkers. We thank God for them and hope that you will join us in prayer for their tasks and decisions. May God bless their ministry to Peru and the church.
The following are comments made by David Litton on behalf of the Shiloh elders on Sunday, October 28, 2007 announcing Shiloh’s support of Team Arequipa. (All the elders stood at the front of the auditorium and were joined by others during the service.)
“When a country goes to war today, national leaders stay on home turf and send young men and women into the battlefields. It takes many people to provide food, weapons, transportation and other support for each person on the front line. In a parallel sense, we are in a worldwide spiritual battle, and the Shiloh elders today are announcing our decision to support and send young men and women into the spiritual battlefield of Arequipa, Peru. (The team was asked to join us up front.) Many of you know them already: Greg and Megan McKinzie and Kyle and Larissa Smith.
To Team Arequipa – On behalf of this church family, we are announcing our support for the team for at least 5 years. The financial amount is being determined during our budget process, but more importantly, we pledge to support your work in prayer. A mission support team is already forming to provide advice, encouragement and other means of support.
This is an exciting time for Shiloh. One of the priorities of this church is that we are committed to teach and prepare the next generation. We love and appreciate all of the kids that grow up here. We have been blessed to see an increasing number who choose full-time ministry whether in the inner city, in youth ministry or going to the mission field. And now Greg, Larissa and Kyle are added to that list. Megan, we know Cedar Lane is equally proud of you.
Speaking as a parent, what greater blessing could there be, besides really cute grandkids, than to see a child grow in faith and make such a courageous commitment to go and share the good news of Jesus. As I look across the Shiloh family this morning, there are many faces who have been a part of raising these team members. Thank you.
There are two that I would like to ask to join us here and stand beside the team – Tim Henderson and Bill Richardson. Tim through high school and still today has been and is a mentor of 3⁄4 of the team. He led Greg, Kyle and Larissa on numerous mission trips and helped nurture a servant’s heart. Bill has been a mentor during their college years. During the summer of 2002, Bill led a Caleb project where he took a number of Harding students to South America where they spent the summer spying out the land looking for receptive places to go and take the good news. Greg was one of those students and that was the genesis of Team Arequipa. Please join me in showing appreciation to these two men and their families for the way that they influence hundreds and literally thousands of students to have a closer walk with God.
Although our youngest students, whom we call ‘Shiloh Souldiers,’ have already left the assembly, there are many other students here that we hope someday will be deployed all over the globe in various vocations and ministries to be about God’s mission. Will the Shiloh family please stand with us as we pray for Team Arequipa?”
To the readers of the newsletter, please join us in praying for the Team and what God will do through them in the coming years.
In His Service, David
(For those of you that don’t know, David Litton is Larissa’s father.)
There are things that basically all Christians know to be true. Jesus came to save all men – check. There are lost people throughout the world – check. However, despite knowing the right answers to such questions, we often fall victim to our desire to be comfortable and pat each other on the back for being such good, faithful Christians. Sometimes we just need someone to bring the truth and power of God’s call right to our own doorstep so that we can’t brush it off as someone else’s job anymore.
Thankfully, those of us at Shiloh had a chance for just such an experience when Dr. Bill Richardson came for the weekend. About 50 people came to the Friday night and Saturday morning sessions in which he covered different ways that churches should be involved in God’s work in the world, many that are not our first choice.
He talked about being a church of missionaries, made up of people who are ready and willing to take up arms and infiltrate their own communities with the saving power that Jesus provides. The Lord’s people are given the power to storm the gates of hell and snatch back the lost to live in His Kingdom, and Bill challenged us to mobilize and join that battle.
Then he spoke of what it takes to be a church for missionaries, the kind that understands the job to be done and works hard to provide the support that is needed, well beyond financial contribution. This involves prayer, prayer and more prayer, knowing the struggles the missionaries are having and striving to uphold them, encouragement, and providing any tools that would smooth the way. He challenged us to have a new perspective on how we measure success on a mission field and to rejoice with every new believer.
He didn’t stop there. After a lunch that included Bill, the team, and the elders and their families, we moved to a meeting with our newly formed Mission Support Team. Bill spent time walking through how they can best serve their field workers and what is necessary to make the work an active part of the home church’s life. Having a mission team on the field should affect the church family as they take ownership of their part in God’s mission. The MST will be an integral part in keeping awareness and prayer a regular part of the church’s life.
The weekend still wasn’t over; we had more time with Bill and took advantage of it. Bill preached the sermon on Sunday and taught a combined adult class. He covered how involvement in missions is a step of faith and then gave an overview of Latin America, discussing signs within those countries that indicate readiness to receive the Gospel.
On Sunday morning, the elders officially announced that they have committed to supporting us, Team Arequipa, for at least 5 years. We were very blessed by their desire to be involved with us in this work, and we are eager to get started, confident in their love and prayers.
All in all, many of us came out of the weekend motivated to take action for the Lord, to be bold and draw on the power He has provided to break down walls and reach hearts. We have been reminded that the Gospel holds power in itself and does not rely on skilled teaching and perfected methods to have an impact. God does the work; we must merely take Him with us where He is needed and let Him do so. Check.
The church at Shiloh has enjoyed having the Smith and McKinzie families here. Some of the
newer members, like myself, who have not been at Shiloh very long are getting to know these families of Team Arequipa. We are truly enjoying them. I, along with some others, have recently been asked to be a part of a "missions committee"/support group at Shiloh Road for this team. It has brought back so many memories for my husband, Mark, and me. We were part of a five family team sent to Cordoba, Argentina back in 1989. (I graduated from ACU, got married and went to South America within a 10 month time period!) Bill and Holly Richardson were the more "seasoned" missionaries on our team and we all looked to them in so many ways for leadership. Team Arequipa is so blessed to be guided and mentored by Bill Richardson from Harding University. The Lord has used Bill in so many ways to touch so many people's lives. Bill is
a Godly man who boldly goes and teaches in the name of the Lord. If I had to use a Bible character to describe him it would be Joshua or Caleb. He has always had an "it can be done" attitude that reminds me of the men sent to spy out the land of Canaan. While ten spies
said "no way,” Joshua and Caleb said that the promised land could be taken because they knew that God was behind the plan.
Bill knows the God behind Team Arequipa and will help guide this team and lead them when Satan throws doubts and discouraging times at them. This team will be a blessing to Arequipa, Peru and many people will be brought to Jesus Christ because of their attitudes that say "yes, we can take this city for the Lord." May God bless Team Arequipa richly and know that we are on our knees praying for the Lord to "send out workers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38) just like this team.