Enrique* knew his life was in ruins, but the 35-year-old electrician in Peru felt helpless to repair it.
He had lost the woman he had married at age 24 when she finally decided she had to get away from the violence erupting from his addictions to drugs and alcohol. Enrique wished with all his being to be free of those addictions but couldn’t shake them.
When a neighbor in his village in northern Peru (unidentified for security reasons) brought him to a native missionary’s church, he seemed impervious to the gospel preaching but liked the worship atmosphere, and he returned to the Sunday services for months. After repeatedly hearing the gospel from the local missionary, one day the message got through that the Son of God’s death and resurrection could save him from death and his sinful path leading to it.
Upon putting his faith in Christ, he realized he had been living in a kind of spiritual stupor, the native ministry leader said.
“In spite of the difficult circumstances in which the population lives, it is evident that there is a hunger and thirst for the Word of God.”
“After studying the Bible with our missionary, he realized that the addictions and bad habits in his personal life were disappearing,” the leader said. “Then he was baptized in water, and he continues to take Bible discipleship on Saturdays and Sundays. Now he is an active member and collaborator in the activities of our congregation.”
Enrique was one of hundreds of people the native ministry led to Christ in the past year, including 1,500 people who came to saving faith from 15 evangelistic outreaches. The ministry also shares the Word of God through its radio station, which is reaching an increasing number of remote people from the Quechua, Lambayeque and Cañaris ethnic groups, he said.
“We thank the Lord for the opportunity to present the gospel to extensive areas and diverse populations,” he said. “In spite of the difficult circumstances in which the population lives, it is evident that there is a hunger and thirst for the Word of God.”
Peru has 68 people groups that are 2 percent or less evangelical Christian, according to the Joshua Project.
Co-Laboring in Ecuador
The population of Ecuador, like that of Peru, is about 14 percent Protestant Christian. Ecuador has 15 people groups where evangelical Christians make up 2 percent or less of the population, according to the Joshua Project.
Working with zeal to bring the gospel to people who have never heard it, a native missionary in Ecuador along with his wife recently saw another house church take root. Due to opposition from villagers who practice a blend of animism and nominal Catholicism, the new believers are wary of being seen at the missionary’s church building, he said.
“In this neighborhood there are many families who do not want to attend our regular meeting hall,” he said, “so I am reaching them as a home group.”
He and other workers visit homes throughout the village to invite them to the house church, he said.
“In recent months, 12 new people surrendered their lives to Jesus, and I am working to disciple them, teaching them a Bible course,” he said.
The native ministry has extensive programs to reach children, including a school where 64 students receive secular education along with biblical teaching. The ministry’s leader said the children learn the Bible and Christian principles to help build a foundation for them to become successful citizens and future Christian leaders. Through the students, the gospel also reaches their parents and other teachers, he said.
“By the grace of God, recently another family surrendered their lives to Jesus, and they are taking Bible courses for discipleship and baptism. We continue working with each of the parents with personal evangelism,” the leader said. “It is a great joy for us to share that, through our children’s ministry school, the community has been transformed since the evangelistic work has been carried out door-to-door and visiting homes in the area.”
Another evangelistic outreach was based on the seven statements of Jesus on the Cross, he added, leading to 16 people opening their hearts and putting their faith in Him.
“With great joy we share that all of them are persevering in the Lord’s walk and attending our Bible studies for discipleship,” he said. “Also, our women’s ministry is working with door-to-door evangelism to reach the homemakers of our communities, and also, we held meetings where we pray and share the Word of God.
The worker who recently planted a second church also teaches in the native ministry’s Bible institute. He said they often have seen God’s hand in their work.
“A woman was diagnosed with cancer in her uterus,” he said. “My wife and I shared the gospel with her, and she opened her heart to Jesus. We prayed for her and, by the powerful hand of God, she was healed. Now she is an enthusiastic believer who shares constantly how the Lord restored her health, and she continues to persevere in the Lord.”
God is using such native missionaries throughout Latin America. Please consider a donation today to enable them to bring the light of God to lost people and help them grow in Christ.
*Name changed for security reasons