As I write this, it is Easter Sunday, but I want to share some thoughts about my Good Friday experience in a special shanty town here in Lima. What began as a witness became an occasion for hope and blessing within the community. Our theme was the death of Christ, and we walked the stations of the Cross. The effect was to bring hope, healing and the love of God into homes and the community.
It is a part of the Peruvian culture to make our Christian faith very public. This year’s Good Friday procession along the streets is not unique; these happen all around Lima, every year. What is unique is the way this Peruvian Anglican pastor brings Jesus to people and people to Jesus. Padre Aurelio invited me to participate this year and to record what God was doing. It was a privilege to do so. Enjoy the slide show!
Santa Maria Triunfo is a busy and sprawling area of south Lima. Buildings are in various stages of construction and style. The streets are mostly paved but covered in dust. People, moto-taxis and dogs abound. Plants, trees and flowers are everywhere in the midst of trash piles and dirt. In the background newer shanty towns ascend the hills. It is in this area that Aurelio has been planting mission stations so as to bring the presence of Jesus to these communities.
Each household along the procession route had been carefully chosen and the stations were clearly marked. At each home there was a table, beautifully decorated with flowers, pictures and statues. The neighbors – including many dogs – joined in with the devotions and then joined the procession. Each household shared with us a “cariñeta” – something to drink and something to eat. On we would go, singing to the next household.
We followed a man bearing a heavy wooden cross – mahogany by the look of it and so very heavy. At each station we had a meditation. We were blessed, along with each household, by liberal sprinklings of holy water. We prayed and sang.
Whenever we encountered people who needed special prayer we took time to do so. Aurelio and I entered homes and prayed inside when folk could not come out. We prayed for healing and blessing. The privilege of doing this, of being part of these homes, was unbelievably precious to me. I am a visitor, different and with halting speech. They welcomed me, embraced me and blessed me with their hospitality.
You may be thinking by now “how Catholic!”
Yes is is. Peru has been Roman Catholic for hundreds of years now. It is who they are and where they are. It is here that we meet them. What we bring is catholic, evangelical and charismatic. We share in the use of liturgy and sacraments–they look catholic and are familiar rites. To this we add a full blooded evangelical commitment to the authority of the Bible, the need for personal conversion and the pursuit of the Gospel mission of Jesus to all the world. We are a missionary and Spirit-filled church. We actively pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit–constantly. We pray for and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church and for the ministry of the Church. We believe is signs and wonders. We pray for healing and give testimony as God works among the people. We begin with the people where they are, and our witness to the transforming love of Jesus compels us to share the transformation that Jesus offers and brings.
This is all far removed from my “home” spirituality. It can be in fact discomforting. I see God in the discomfort. This Good Friday something died in me and then a hope was born, again, that Jesus is Lord. That Jesus loves these folk. Jesus honors this ministry of Aurelio and his parish. I am in awe. Today we celebrate JESUS’ resurrection. Alleluia! HE is risen, risen indeed, Alleluia!
Easter Sunday update: God came and blessed us at Villa el Salvador. This was our last Sunday with this congregation. There was a full band to play the worship music. Edith Varillas preached a barnstorming sermon and afterward about twenty folk came forward for prayer.
I asked the seminarians to pray with folk and they did so very effectively. We had one of the most meaningful communion services ever.
When the service was over, we were ready to leave but the whole congregation wanted to pray for our trip to New Wineskins and Vermont. THEN they held a reception with refreshments. They were so generous and loving.
A REQUEST or two.
Polly and I are using the NOOMA series of thought provoking presentations at the Cathedral in Lima. We will buy the whole series of twenty four and the cost is about $200 – HELP anyone?
One of our shantytown churches needs a guitar and a cajon (Peruvian wooden drum). I will be happy to carry down a worthwhile guitar but generally these are better purchased down here.
Both these requests can be met through SAMS by designating $$$ for a special project. Blessings dear ones.
Polly and I return to the US tomorrow night – the New Wineskins conference and the SAMS gathering is at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Polly and I have a workshop on “Jubilee Ministry,” the mission field and retirement. Please pray. Then on to Vermont. I return to Peru April 26 for four weeks. Then deputation, family and raising support. Meanwhile on October 30 our daughter Katherine is getting married in Los Angeles to Sam Sweet, her beloved. We are thrilled. Polly will be visiting her mother in Ohio who has had to enter a nursing home and then will visit Kath in LA and start wedding planning.
Thanks dear ones for your spiritual and financial support. God is using you down here through us.
Ian and Polly