It all began with a bus ride up the mountain to a little Peruvian town. Rick and I were on our way to hike in order to get some exercise and fresh air. Plus dropping off a New Testament to a Quechua lady that Rick prayed for after her husband broke her arm in a fuss. While on the bus, the young gal seated in front of us turned and began talking to us in very simple English! English!! We were surprised, of course, and continued to talk with her, asking her simple questions. We discovered that her name is Samy. And she is in her preparatory time to enter the University.
We all got off at the bus stop in this little town and began walking in the same direction. We continued walking and talking together. As we came near a bend in the road, I saw a surprisingly lovely house and asked her if she knew who lived there. She said, “Oh that’s my house! Would you like to come over for a coffee?” Rick and I both thought, “Sure! What an ‘open-door’ opportunity to share with someone!” So, we went.
The house we entered was NOT the lovely house that I noticed, but rather a humble, adobe structure made with poles, dirt, and a tin roof over a dirt floor. (It was interesting to me how Samy thought that HER house was the “lovely house” of my comment.) Her shaggy dog greeted us on our way down the embankment. We met her two little nieces, 5 and 8, who appeared to be home alone. She served both of us a cup of powdered coffee. We visited and talked. Rick asked her some questions about Jesus and began to share the gospel. We had the New Testament with us, plus a spare one (Thank the Lord!). Rick read some verses and left the New Testament with her. We also shared our contact information in case she wanted to talk with us again. We left and went on our way.
Over the next several months, Samy began to text us occasionally. Rick and I asked her over to our house for some coffee and cookies and she came. We saw her in the main Plaza in town at times. We invited her to our church services. She came every now and again. She especially enjoyed our Christmas service last year (2021) when we had fellowship time and a fun “photo booth” with props to take crazy photos together! Every time we were with her, we tried to share with her about the Lord.
When Rick was sick with COVID, we were in quarantine in our apartment. Samy bought bread for us fairly regularly and dropped it off. She is a real sweetheart and very willing to help others in their time of need.
Samy is lonely, seeking friendships, and opportunities for success in life. Her parents work in a village that is a three-hour drive away. She lives in Ayacucho with her sister who works long hours. Samy is often left to herself.
During one conversation, she mentioned that her birthday was coming up in January. She didn’t know what she was going to do. Samy was turning 21. She mentioned it several times during that visit. I told Rick, “I think she’s kind of ‘fishing’ for us to have a party for her!” We decided to plan a party for her birthday and welcomed her to invite some of her friends over too. We talked and planned the menu and time together. She only invited one friend, Edith, whom we had also met in the Plaza with Samy on one of our chance encounters. In talking with Edith at that time, she seemed to be a believer. We were glad to know of Edith’s friendship in Samy’s life.
What a fun celebration with Samy, Edith, and Edith’s two little boys. We had a great time of food, fellowship, and fiesta together as those boys were most entertaining!
A few Sundays after that birthday party, Edith and her two little boys, along with Edith’s mother, Lydia, came with Samy to our worship service. What a beautiful surprise! We were so glad to see them all.
Rick began to think of ways that he could include Samy in our worship service in order to promote more regular attendance. He asked her if she would change the PowerPoint slides for our worship singing time. She agreed.
On Palm Sunday (April 10, 2022), Samy came early to help us set up equipment for worship and to practice changing the slides for the worship songs. We practiced and she did great! We got done “early” so I (Donna) left the room to go work on my children’s Sunday School craft. When I went back into the main room, Samy was sitting down reading a tract, “How to Have Peace With God.” As we began to gather for our prayer time, Rick asked her what she thought about the tract. She said that it promoted the need for reflection and that many people tend to reject God. She said that she would have to think about it more.
Then she asked, “How does one have peace with God?” Rick began sharing verses from another tract that he had with him. This tract had pictures depicting man’s sinful separation from God and his inability to “work” his way to God with his own attempts. It showed Jesus as the “bridge” to bring us to God. Rick shared several verses from that tract explaining the pictures as he shared. At the back of the tract was a sample “sinner’s prayer.” He read over that prayer. Then told her that if that prayer represented what was going on in her own heart, if it was something that she wanted to say HERSELF to God, that she could. He asked her if she would like to pray that to God, and she said, “Yes.” She then prayed, aloud, that prayer to God! Afterward, she commented on how emotional it was!
How thrilling! After many, many times of sharing Christ and the gospel with Samy, she went from death to life. Praise the Lord! We told her that the angels in heaven were having a big party over her too. What a joy to have a new sister in Christ! And it all started during a “holy moment” when she turned around and started talking to us on a bus ride up the mountain.
Rick and Donna Martin serve as SAM missionaries in Ayacucho, Peru. Their passion for evangelism and discipleship brings great energy to the church planting team in the Ayacucho region. They desire to see beautiful churches planted that help bring God’s shalom to broken cities and lives.