Peru & COVID-19

May 6, 2020 |

Peru’s quarantine began on March 16th and many believed it an indefinite lockdown, as the dates for its end have regularly been pushed back, with phases for reopening just announced this week. Much of the panic in Peru is connected to the medical facilities that provide adequate medical care under normal circumstances, but would be stressed and overworked if the pandemic grows too quickly at any time. An example of this is in Pucallpa, a major city on the edge of the Amazon where many SAM missionaries work, which has three major hospitals, two that are currently closed and the remaining one only receiving patients with health insurance.

Still, we see God’s mercy and His providence. The Peruvian church and our missionaries there have hope, and from day one have worked creatively to meet the growing needs in their communities. In Arequipa, a church plant in an under-resourced part of the city created food bags to distribute to neighbors, as pictured above, and the missionaries there have helped to distribute food and resources to church members in need. In Lima, the Iglesia de la Ciudad team distributed food and money to neighbors in Manchay, an under-resourced district Southeast of the city. Like elsewhere in Latin America, most Peruvians rely on day wages to survive and this extended quarantine has been hard on many families.

As the stories flow up from the cities and communities where our missionaries serve, we are privileged to share them and give glory to God. Pray for Peru and the church there as they continue to weather an extended lockdown. Pray for our missionaries as they discern how best to serve those around them and care for themselves well. This month, thanks to the generosity of many, we have equipped our missionaries with extra resources and we ask for your prayers as they support those in need.

Bolivia & COVID-19

April 22, 2020 |

santa cruz
[Empty highways in Bolivia’s largest city, Santa Cruz; photo taken by Zayit Clavel]

 

Bolivia’s lockdown and quarantine is currently set to last through April 30th. It began officially on March 31st and individuals have been permitted to leave their home on designated days of the week based on their government ID number. Each household is only permitted one person to leave their home per day, and they must travel on foot or bicycle as all vehicle travel has been banned.

In some ways, Bolivia’s nationwide strike last October and November prepared many for this event. While people could still leave their homes and congregate in the streets, there were blockades on every corner and vehicle traffic was heavily reduced. Even so, the church was united at that time in prayer and worship movements, just as she is united in these days to be generous and support her surrounding communities.

The Association of Evangelical Churches in Eastern Bolivia took up donations and made over 1,000 bread rolls to distribute to families in need. The SAM missionary team was able to send funds out to Bolivian partners in rural Santa Cruz to support team members and friends at the discipleship center. One of our missionaries has built relationships with women in the local prison in Santa Cruz and received donations from individual supporters to help provide food and medical supplies to the women, as these prisoners rely on help from the outside for their daily needs.

The generous spirit of those whose faith is in Christ and whose peace comes from God cannot be contained by fear. Though there is chaos in our world today, God’s people stand firm in His promises and bring light into the darkness. Pray for the church in Bolivia and our missionaries there as they continue under strict quarantine guidelines and seek to meet needs in communities where businesses and livelihood have come to a halt.

Colombia & COVID-19

April 16, 2020 |

Guajira
[Photo from the Guajira Desert of Northern Colombia, taken by Lauren Jones]

 

The most recent message from the Colombian government says that mandatory self-isolation will stay through April 26th. Each region or department is enforcing the “stay at home” order in different ways. For many Colombians, crisis began overnight as their daily income from labor work was suddenly inaccessible and unsustainable.

Even so, the church has not remained idle. Missionaries throughout Colombia are sharing stories of generosity and love despite their circumstances. In Bogotá, one missionary team and their house church community is continuing to provide support for young adults who were graduated from Colombian state foster care without adoption. The team had to close their community center to the public but are still using it privately to process food they purchase from a local food bank to distribute care packages within the neighborhood.

Another team in Bogotá which walks alongside communities to engage in peace and justice work has suddenly shifted into relief efforts, despite the ethos of their ministry being concerned with long-term development work. They have already sent available funds up to the Guajira peninsula to aid the Wayuu people in this time of need. As they put it, “Many of these people now live mostly dependent on the monetary system and a daily income from their labor, while often the previous generations of Wayuu did not. Amongst many factors, severe drought in the past 8 years has served to push this marginalized people-group to further dependence on the developed world, and now, as we are seeing throughout the globe, that system is at a pause.”

Pray for the people of Colombia as many face economic crisis within their communities. We know both from their history and from our long-term friendships throughout Colombia that they are a resilient people, but even so we are all in need of God’s mercy and strength in these days.

Good Friday Hope

April 10, 2020 |

Each year as we walk through Holy Week and approach Good Friday, there is an irony to it. We annually hold the tension of remembering Christ’s final days before his crucifixion and gruesome death with the foresight of his resurrection. We are inclined to consider it “good” because of what it brings, knowing that in his death and burial the story was not over and a victory had only just begun.

This year even more so we can reflect on what is “good” about this day. In remembering the work of Christ on the cross, in seeing God dwell among men and sacrifice his son for the ransom of many, we do have reason to hope. And it is not a foolish hope—we have a firm hope that God is at work to restore his creation and draw his children near, regardless of the circumstances that surround or overwhelm us. He has declared an eternal victory over sin and death and sent us out in his Spirit to bring his kingdom to Earth.

Today we pray that God’s nearness would bless us with that tangible hope, lifting our eyes above our circumstances to see his beauty. Let us pray for those who are without any measure of security or hope in these days, that they would know the Lord. Let us pray also for our missionaries who are scattered and weathering this storm, that they would be empowered by the Spirit to be ministers of light and bring refuge to those around them.

Creativity and Courage

April 8, 2020 |

The featured image in this post is of Venezuelan currency, transformed and crafted into a figurine whose decorative value as a star is worth more than the collective value of the individual paper bills. The strange reality of this valuation is, in many ways, a sign of the times. Globally, our reality has shifted so drastically in a short period of time and what was once reliable, safe and useful has become sporadic or inaccessible in an instant.

Even so, God has called each of us to a specific and unique place today. It is no accident that any of us are “sheltering in place” wherever we are. For South America Mission’s missionary team, we have been urged to not only shelter in place but also to “serve in place”.

In these moments, we have an unprecedented opportunity to tangibly bring peace and hope to others who need it. Whether it’s through virtual encouragement, praying with people who never would have turned to prayer before or being generous with what we have toward those who are in need, we have opportunities everywhere to be the hands and feet of Christ to our world today.

This is the hour for creativity, not fear. While our feelings of uncertainty are valid, we have faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised and as Paul wrote to Timothy “… God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 2:7).

Let us pray in these days that God’s Spirit would guide each of us to think creatively with the resources, influence and time we have available to us. Pray for our missionaries also as many live in full lockdown and have needed to meet needs and love others in new ways. If you are able, prayerfully join us in our Crisis Response to help our missionaries move in new ways this month to love their neighbors and serve those in need.

Hope in a time of Crisis

March 27, 2020 |

Hope in Crisis COVID-19

Dear South America Mission friends and co-laborers,

We hold unswervingly to hope despite the chaos of the times we are living. God kindles our hope through the prophetic voices of Israel’s exile. Zechariah proclaimed that God would “come and dwell in [our] midst” (Zech 2:10). I understand if those who heard his prophecy were doubtful or weary; God’s promise to “dwell among Israel and not forsake [his] people” when the temple was first built 400 years before (1 Kings 6:13) was likely unimaginable at the time of exile.

And we yet have hope today—we see in the life of Christ a fulfillment of those promises and can know for certain that God is among us.

He dwells among us now and we wait with eager anticipation for the day we dwell in His presence. It is in this promise and His faithfulness that we anchor ourselves. This is my message to our missionary team and what I most want you to hear from me today.

I am grateful for each of you supporting the work of SAM missionaries and ministries. Even as these hectic times shift our daily routines and roles, we stand in solidarity with you. It would be our honor to hear from you, to know how you are doing and how we can pray for you specifically in these circumstances.

Our missionary team is developing a “new normal” for being on-mission in these times and in the geography where God has called us.

We’re in countries where the borders have closed and where country-wide quarantines are in effect. The health infrastructure in many places does not have the capacity to manage critical cases. The informal economies in several countries mean that a substantial portion of the population receives their income through public interaction. Please be in prayer for the millions in Latin America who will face these realities. And pray for wisdom for our team, for eyes to see redemptive possibilities that offer peace and hope to neighbors in despair.


Crisis Response Fund

I’ve established a Crisis Response fund at South America Mission to equip and care for missionaries in the coming months. Donations to this fund will be distributed to our missionary team for their use as the gospel compels. They will have freedom to respond to needs that arise, whether within missionary families or in the communities where they serve. Know that your gifts to this effort will directly benefit our missionary team and moreover, mobilize them to be agents of mercy and peace. We realize economic hardship has reached many of you, so we make this ask with great sensitivity. Please give only as you are able and as the Lord leads.

To mobilize Crisis Response funds quickly, the best way to give is online at www.southamericamission.org/crisisresponse.

I encourage you to visit and bookmark this web page even if you decide not to give, because there we will update the content regularly as news and prayer needs develop from our fields of ministry. You can also mail in a check made out to South America Mission with “Crisis Response” written in the memo line (1021 Maxwell Mill Rd, Ste B, Fort Mill, SC 29708).

The directness about the reality before us is paired with our unswerving holding to the hope we profess in the confidence that He who promised is faithful. God is at work as He shakes the nations.

By Grace,

Kirk Ogden, Executive Director, South America Mission

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