Huaraz is a beautiful part of the snowcapped Andes, and the spirits of the dear brothers in the conference matched the beauty of the countryside. Pastor Jaime is a dear Quechua brother who has suffered much persecution at the hands of those who prefer traditional religions and drunkenness to the change that Christ makes in the lives of those who love Him. We were overjoyed that he invited us to attend the baptism of a humble couple from his church. He baptized them at the Centro Bautista since they were attending the conference and were ready for baptism. I was freezing just standing in the unheated masonry church building, but when I put my hand in the water to check its temperature, I literally shivered. He and his church members, along with one of the brothers from the stateside group, stepped into the water without hesitation, gave brief testimonies, and celebrated in the waters of baptism what Christ had done in their lives. I reflected on the day that Dr. Tom Nettles baptized my wife and me together in the baptistery of Briarwood Drive Baptist Church almost thirty years ago. It was very moving to see and hear the powerful testimony of these Quechua believers. Since this sanctuary was the “dormitory” of many of those attending the conference (they slept on the floor that week), their bedrolls were still along the walls. I was truly humbled to see that one had a copy of The Missionary Call in Spanish by his pillow on his bedroll.
These brothers are so hungry for truth, so desperate to know how to apply the Word to their families and churches. Some said they had traveled for three days to get to the conference. A fellow conference speaker asked me to clarify that this was indeed their seventh annual conference. When I confirmed that it was, he was dismayed. “They know so little! What have they been learning?” By the end of the week he realized that they were drinking it in like sponges, but you can only share so much in a few hours a day over four days.
Someone asked me recently whether I get tired going on these international trips to train pastors. Yes I do! I get very tired of seeing genuine believers pastoring other genuine believers without any of them knowing what God’s Word actually teaches. I get tired of hearing heresy and every bizarre, aberrant doctrine touted by those who are sincere, but who just don’t know any better. I get tired of the prosperity “gospel” sending thousands to hell after so many embrace it, clutching at what they hope may be true, but who remain lost, poor, and worse off than before, thinking they are now saved and so quit listening to the preacher. I get tired of having to get on a plane and come back home to my sweet comfort zone, working at the greatest theological seminary in the world with the best professors in every Christian discipline, knowing that those brothers watch our plane lift off, and then return to their churches—a little better off, but still so hungry, so thirsty, and so eager to learn more.
Pastor Wilmer was moved almost to tears when I told him, “Yes, Reaching & Teaching International Ministries will seek to recruit, orient, and bring a team to teach his pastors within this next year.” I went on to tell him that if it works as we planned it, that it would not be our only trip. We will continue to come and bring training to those who so desperately need it. I am both thrilled and startled at the increasing numbers of church members, students, pastors, and churches that are asking to join us on a trip to minister to these dear folks. I am also wondering what God is up to as missionaries and more and more nationals are pleading, “Come over here and teach us!” I have not been back to the USA from Peru even one week now, and I have already had three more requests, “Come over here and help us!” Who will go?
View additional photos from the conference by clicking here.