At 12,800 feet above sea level, in the little mountain town of Ayaviri, we stood shivering. Although we were chilled to the bone, the warm welcome we received from our Andean brothers and sisters was unlike any other and quickly strengthened our resolve. Surrounded by toothless smiles, “hermanas” shuffling around in their five layers of skirts, countless handshakes, and eagerness to receive teaching from their leaders, we soaked it all in. We quickly realized how much we would be learning from these humble people.
After spending only two days in the Puno region of Peru, we were impacted by how God is moving in His Church in the Andes Mountains and watching how He is using the ready and willing.
As so often happens when my husband, Paris, and I go to visit church leaders with a specific purpose, God amazed us with additional blessings and lessons. After signing a partnership two years ago with one of the biggest denominations in Peru, we’ve been trying to share the vision of sports ministry with the denominational church leaders. Our goal with this partnership is to equip and build up leadership within the denomination. So, we went to share the vision with the leaders and were ready to see what God would do in our time there. The response from the church leaders was overwhelming, specifically in their desire to adopt new tools in order to share the Gospel and make disciples of youth.
“We’re losing the youth in our town. This would be perfect!”
“When can we start?”
“I’m a church planter and this would be a great tool!”
“It’ll be really important to use sports in a positive way and use them differently than the world does.”
As the leaders excitedly approached us with questions, we were able to hear their passion for God and desire for HisKingdom to expand. I remember one morning as I sat in the dim Sunday School room attempting to escape the chilly morning air, Pastor Juan approached me with excitement and a heart for partnership. He proceeded to tell me of the huge need they have for outreach and service in his region of Puno, and the incredible way that God has provided people and resources along the way to help them thrive in a region that lacks so much. And he shared the desire He has to see growth in the local church and see God bringing more people to Himself.
As Paris and I prayed with Pastor Juan, God brought to my mind all the other faces and stories we had encountered in those couple of days. Stories of hope and expectancy that God is working. Eager faces, always smiling from ear to ear, ready to accept any guidance given them in order to further God’s Kingdom. Loving people, desiring to see their neighbors and towns come to know Christ personally. And as God brought all these things to my mind, he reminded me of His parable in Mark 4:26-29. He tells us that when we sow the seed, whether it’s day or night, the seed grows and continues to produce until it’s ready for the harvest. When we are faithful and obey God, it is His power and work that moves and grows the seed.
Just as God brought this passage to my heart to encourage the leaders of the church in Puno, I hope it also encourages you. Are you ready and willing? Will you sow where God asks and trust that He will grow the seed in His time and power? May we all, as God’s children, look to our Father with hope, expectancy and excitement as He grows His Kingdom!
By Lindsay Geverink, Sports Friends Peru Director