God draws straight with crooked lines. That’s the only way I can explain the story of Ronald and Marcia, a young married Peruvian couple I talked with earlier today. That’s them in the picture.
Ronald spent much of his childhood living on the streets of Trujillo, a major city in the northern region of the country. Somehow in the middle of the violence, drugs and hopelessness, an uncle took the time to share the gospel with him and against all odds, Ronald turned to Jesus in order to begin a new life.
While Ronald was going through his spiritual formation, God also was working in Marcia through a Christian sewing club. Like her future husband, she learned about Jesus through people close to her–friends who started the club as a gospel outreach. Her spirit began to awaken as she listened to them share Bible verses during their get-togethers and before long she gave her heart to Jesus.
They fell in love when both began attending the same church in Trujillo. But God wasn’t through yet. Over the next few years he continued to pour new life into the couple by planting a shared vision for ministry in their spirits. Ronald began attending seminary as Marcia worked alongside him in preparing for their future as church leaders.
Today, eight years along their surprising path together, Ronald and Marcia have finished seminary, married and moved to the little town of Chepen–about two hours north of Trujillo–to pastor a small group of people in a new church
And that’s where we come into the story. Chepen is where our church has been sending medical teams for the last few years. In cooperation with the local Baptist leaders, we’ve identified the town as a strategic location for the larger area and are investing in ministry there because of our vision for planting churches. I’m with a medical team now and later in the summer another team will come here to lead a Vacation Bible School and start a craft group for women like the one that introduced Marcia to the gospel.
But there’s one more piece to the story that takes it to a different level altogether.
As Ronald, Marcia and I talked, I learned the beginnings of the Chepen church were well before Ronald was rescued from his previous life on the streets or Marcia found Jesus in a sewing club or Lexington Baptist Church began sending mission teams.
Years before, the Peruvian Baptist leadership had been burdened for Chepen and began praying that the Lord would open a door for gospel ministry there. And in the mysterious ways that human prayer intersects with divine sovereignty, God answered with the chain of events that I heard about today. He really does draw straight with our crooked lines.
So this Sunday our medical mission team and I will attend Ronald and Marcia’s home church in Trujillo and I’ll be honored to preach the commissioning sermon that will install this unlikely young man and his beautiful bride as the church planters of his new church, fittingly named, “Fuenta de Vida,” Fountain of Life.