9:00. Chepen, Peru. I’m watching as a line is already forming for the free medical clinic our church sent us here to for, and over the next few days we expect to provide care for about 400 men, women and children. The team from our church is prayed up, trained up and ready to go.
But it’s not just about the medical care. We’re in partnership with a group of Peruvian Baptist churches about 100 miles south of here, in the major city of Trujillo, and many of them are here, too. They’ll translate as we share the gospel with the patients.
In the afternoons we’ll lead Vacation Bible Schools for the children and at nights be a part of evangelistic services for the community.
The bigger picture is the planting of a new church here. Our goal is that this clinic–and a second mission team coming next month to lead sports camps and women’s crafts groups–will help build a foundation for a successful congregation.
Chepen sprawls along an arid plain that connects the lower Andean slopes with the Pacific Ocean. I saw a few of its famous rice paddies that surround the city as our caravan drove in yesterday, but the city itself is dry and dusty.
As I’ve learned in my two trips to Peru, it’s a typical town–a mixture of rich and poor, with the poor predominating. People walk most places, with little three-wheel taxis careening around beeping their horns like maniacs. A new feature I’ve noticed this trip is small groups of Venezuelans milling around, refugees from their country’s collapse.
There’s much evidence of religion here, especially Catholic. But little personal faith. So when the Peruvian Baptist Association invited us to partner with them we jumped at the opportunity. Our church believes that planting new churches is the best way to reach lost people. So the clinic is meeting in the building where the church will be located. A new sign hangs above the door, “Fuenta de Vida,” Fountain of Life. Beneath the church’s name is a subtitle that reads in Spanish, “in partnership with Lexington Baptist Church.”
The team is largely made up of medical professionals. Allison and Amy are nurses. Elizabeth is a pharmacist. Sarah is a nurse-practioner. John is an ophthalmologist. Daniel does family medicine. Bobby is a cardiologist. Two others are here to provide support–Todd works in finance and James in IT.
Mission trips are unpredictable and you can’t predict at the beginning how things will turn out at the end. But so far the people are coming in, the tranlastors’ murmur indicates gospel conversations are happening, the medical people are seeing patients and sharing their testimonies, and the wonderful Peruvian missionary couple who will lead the new church are busy as bees meeting prospective members