by Elizabeth Truong
“Who would have ever imagined God would use an earthquake to open so many doors for mission and ministry in Peru?” wonders missionary Anthony DiLiberto, a member of the LCMS mission team in Peru. “Since the first LCMS missionaries arrived, the Lord has been accomplishing His purposes despite our human doubts and shortcomings. Our first worship in Spanish was the culmination of years of mission work and a wonderful celebration of God’s faithfulness!”
On Aug. 15, 2007, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck southern Peru. As newspaper headlines shifted their focus to other global events, Peruvians were still struggling to recover from the earthquake’s effects.
Two weeks after the earthquake, LCMS representatives visited Lima and two farming villagesLunahuan and Lucumoto distribute relief supplies, provide spiritual encouragement and evaluate possibilities for future work. The first LCMS short-term mission team arrived in January 2008, and the team is currently based out of a Lima suburb, where the missionaries are focused on building partnerships; planting a Peruvian Lutheran congregation; teaching and equipping members of the newly-established congregation for outreach, teaching and leadership in the church; and continuing to work alongside Peruvian Lutherans in human-care ministries, especially in communities where little Gospel witness is present.
Several missionaries were present for the first Lutheran worship service conducted in Spanish, which took place in Lunahuan in July. More than 30 Peruvians gathered for the service, and they are already involved by reading Scripture, praying before Bible studies and helping promote the Lutheran events in their community.
Though the missionaries now live in Lima, the mission team continues nurturing the growing congregation in Lunahuan through twice-monthly visits. Their focus is gathering local people for worship and catechesis in order to start a congregation and to equip leaders for outreach and teaching. These bi-monthly visits include a children’s Bible study as well as an adult Bible study and catechism class, followed by a Lutheran worship service.
“We want to make sure that our focus remains on our ultimate aim: to see a distinctly unique, inspiring, winsome and outreaching Peruvian Lutheran Church,” says the Rev. Mark Eisold, who has been serving as a missionary in Peru since January, “one that has a heart and hands eager to go about the work of Jesus Christto reach the lost of Peru with the Good News of salvation and life transformation in Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.”
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About the Author: Elizabeth Truong is a staff writer for LCMS Communications