A Bus Ride In Peru

Samy's Salvation

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.

Deaf Students Hear About Jesus

Deaf Students Hear About Jesus

Years ago, in the Amazon Jungle of Pucallpa, a Peruvian pastor had a heart and desire to serve and help others with disabilities, like himself. Like many in Peru, he survived polio as a child, but it left him with physical disabilities. South America Mission (SAM) allowed that pastor to use some of their property directly behind SAM Academy to begin Refugio de Esperanza (The Refuge of Hope). With a focus on educating and teaching a trade to individuals with disabilities, he also wanted them to know the love of God. Thirty-five years later, Refugio is now a flourishing ministry that hosts a preschool, primary school, special ed school, high school, hearing church, Deaf church, boarding opportunities for students in need, and housing for a variety of families and a missionary (me).

For the past five years, I have been blessed to live with, serve alongside, and become part of the Refugio family. I work with Deaf students in the schools here. With a background as a professional Sign Language interpreter in the U.S., it was quite the learning curve to acquire fluency in Spanish and Peruvian Sign Language at the same time upon my arrival. But the struggles were definitely worth it! I can communicate and interpret more fluently with/for my Deaf co-teacher, Carlos, and my Deaf students.

Our Students

Deaf students here, like many other students with disabilities, are often not accepted into regular schools. Therefore, they are left uneducated. It is common for us to receive a new Deaf student in one of our schools aged anywhere from 3-16 years old who has no formal language acquisition, much less actual reading and writing ability. If they did attend a school before, they are normally just passed along without receiving any official education. Such was the case of one of our high school students, Erick.

Erick at Refugio

Erick is 18 years old and has been attending high school for three years. Previous to that, he was passed along in elementary school and then stayed at home not studying because no high school would accept him. In 2018, Carlos and I went to his house to talk with his mom. We encouraged her to send him to high school at Refugio. So in 2019, he began attending and became a part of our third year teaching high school Deaf students. Erick is hard-of-hearing so he can hear some sounds and can also speak a variety of words. But he had never heard of Jesus until he began attending our high school and the Deaf church at Refugio.

Jeck Billy at Refugio

Then we have Jeck Billy. He began attending Refugio’s primary school before I arrived in Pucallpa. Jeck Billy is completely deaf and already knew a lot of Sign Language when I first met him. He is more advanced in his studies, but he also didn´t start truly understanding who Jesus is until he entered high school. And once we began the Deaf church in 2018, that helped to open up more conversations about God and our need for a Savior which helped him understand even more.

For years, I and many others have been praying for the hearts and souls of our Deaf high school students. More recently and specifically for the hearts of Erick and Jeck Billy. God decided to respond marvelously the last week of June!

Cold and Joyous Day

Wednesday, June 30 started like any normal day in the jungle except that it was cold! Due to the cold, I knew that few students would show up for classes. As I walked to my classroom, I was surprised to find that Erick actually arrived early! As we were waiting to see if more students would arrive, I left Carlos in the room with the students for a moment. When I returned, I found Carlos and Erick in a conversation about Salvation. Carlos needed to leave so he passed the baton to me to explain more. I continued the conversation answering Erick´s questions and making sure he understood his need for a Savior. He told us that his heart was pounding as if it would come out of his chest. I could see on his face the battle happening within as the devil fought to keep his soul.

We had the blessing of time because of the cold weather and only three other students in the classroom. I kept praying silently, encouraging him, answering whatever questions or doubts arose in his mind. I asked if he wanted to pray and ask Jesus into his heart. He said yes…so I helped lead him in acknowledging his need for a Savior and asking Jesus into his heart. As soon as we finished praying, I asked him if his heart was still pounding. He said no, then burst into tears. I could see the Holy Spirit´s work of peace on his face. What a joyous day!

Firsts at Deaf Church

I thought that would be the highlight of my week, but God had more plans. On Sunday, July 4, we had church service like normal. My co-teacher Carlos is also the pastor of the Deaf church. At the end of every service, Pastor Carlos gives an altar call with the invitation to accept Jesus or come forward for prayers of repentance. For the first time since we started the Deaf church in 2018, one gentleman stood up and went forward to ask forgiveness of the Lord. He broke the ice, and after him, two others joined him to ask forgiveness of the Lord. We all knew those three were already saved.

As Pastor Carlos continued to invite others up, Jeck Billy stood up. He went forward. Pastor Carlos went to him and asked him why he had come forward. He said he wanted to accept Jesus as his Savior! Pastor Carlos helped lead him in prayer. When they had finished, Jeck Billy returned to his seat as we all were watching him, and as desperately as he tried not to, he couldn´t hold back his tears. Erick, who just accepted Jesus on Wednesday, hugged him, and once again, I saw the Holy Spirit´s peace shining through. The entire church was so excited, and we rejoiced knowing that heaven was celebrating and had just defeated the devil´s evil wiles again! What an amazing week of glorious blessing and fruit!

Join Us In Prayer

Please pray for these two young men as they begin their new lives in Christ. Also, pray for the Lord to send men to work with the Deaf. These young men need mentors and men to disciple them. Pastor Carlos is 67 years old and one of their school teachers, so it is difficult for him to mentor them on a personal level. We wait expectantly for the Lord to send workers for this ripe harvest! Until that time, pray that Pastor Carlos remains healthy and able to continue serving as teacher and pastor to the Deaf students.

Refugio Deaf Church, Pastor Carlos

 

Amanda-McKinney

Amanda McKinney is a professional Sign Language interpreter. She has been part of the SAM network in Pucallpa for many years serving at Refugio de Esperanza. She formally joined SAM as a missionary in 2020. Her heart’s desire is to make the hope of the Gospel accessible to those who have limited or no language, the marginalized Deaf community in Peru, through education and interpretation.

Floatplane Destroyed by Winds

SAMAIR floatplane destroyed by winds

Sunday, November 8, SAMAIR Peru suffered a significant loss: a floatplane destroyed by winds.

Around 2pm a strong storm rolled in from the east. One of the wind gusts picked up the roof over the floatplane and slammed it back down, crushing the airplane and damaging it most likely beyond repair. There was other significant storm damage around the aviation base but none as catastrophic as the destruction of our plane.

Since 1992, our floatplane 0B-1467 has been serving the missionary force and tribal communities of the jungles of Peru with service into and out of some of the most remote parts of the Amazon jungle.

These flights have included carrying Bible school students back-and-forth from villages, transporting missionaries to and from ministry venues, and providing air ambulance services for medical emergencies. She can even boast being the birthplace of a baby boy during one such medical flight, as well as being used to rescue two missionaries who had been missing deep in the heart of the Amazon for over a month.

These and many other examples are why this floatplane is so important to the people of the Amazon region of Peru. As I write this, there are multiple ministry teams depending on us to provide critical transportation into some very hard-to-reach places.

Our ability to respond to emergency medical requests has now been cut in half, which is critical as we have the only missionary floatplane operating in the country of Peru.

We are compelled to find a way to continue to serve.

We are not sure how we are going to accomplish this. However, we do know that God is great and that he can overcome all of these setbacks that we have suffered. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of love and concern coming from so many different quarters as we have been getting phone calls and emails from literally all over the world expressing dismay and support following the loss of this airplane. Obviously many lives have been touched through the ministry that OB-1467 made possible.

Our immediate goal is to temporarily convert one of our two wheel planes over to floats to fill the gap until we can replace the OB-1467 floatplane. We will have to operate with a minimal fleet for a while until we raise the needed funds to purchase a replacement aircraft. We also need to replace the destroyed floatplane hangar.

  • Pray for wisdom as we make big decisions regarding plans going forward, including assessment of costs and wise budgets.
  • Please pray that we will not need to ship parts from the US to make this float conversion, which will allow us to get a floatplane back in service much quicker. This will depend on if the damaged floats are repairable with what we have here. We won’t know until we are able to safely extricate the aircraft from under the collapsed roof. Pray for safety as our team works in these coming days to free the airplane.
  • Also pray that the Lord will provide financially as we seek to raise funds to replace OB 1467. Due to sky-high insurance costs, our insurance coverage was minimal and we estimate it will only cover about 25% of the replacement. If you feel compelled to respond with a donation, visit SAMAIR Peru’s ministry page at www.southamericamission.org

 

Hope in a time of Crisis

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

CCB Peru Celebrates 25 Years

CCB Peru tribal students
The fog lifts each morning on the Ucayali River, as locals travel into Pucallpa, Peru, for trade, education, and work. Pucallpa, the capital of the Ucayali Region, is Peru’s largest port city, and sits at the Northeast end of the only highway extending from the Pacific coast to its region. It rests on the edge of Peru’s upper Amazon basin rainforest and is home to the CCB Bible Institute.

 

In 1992, the CCB or Centro de Capacitación Bíblica opened its doors for the first time, and in 25 years it has grown from a class size of six to an average of 50 students, representing over the years a total of 18 different tribal groups, and resulting in 360 graduates 90% of whom are active today in ministry.

This past January, the CCB welcomed 70 students from five tribal groups who will participate in its two-year program. Graduates immerse themselves with the local Shipibo-Conibo Tribal Evangelical Church Association, serving by making disciples, training others in evangelism, modeling leadership for the emerging generation, as well as carrying out social and community development projects that improve health and increase access to food, water and education.

One goal of the CCB is for students to discover and use their spiritual gifts to strengthen communities of faith, including their individual families. Students work diligently on thesis papers during their time at the CCB, while the faculty and staff, who are Peruvian pastors and lay leaders, mentor the students. As each program cycle brings new students, it also brings its hurdles. “Each year differences in language, levels of education, and customs of other tribal groups bring new challenges to the program of CCB,” SAM missionary Tom Hough explains. Despite these changes, the training center continues to grow and impact its community.

Tom expresses excitement when he talks about the impact of CCB’s outreach programs, set up through a partnership with the Shipibo-Conibo church association. He recalls, “[they] continue to travel through the vast jungle region of Peru into many different tribal groups… During 2016 more than 25 major trips were made… visiting more than 50 villages on 12 different river systems.” Tom speaks confidently, and hopefully, about the CCB’s purposes being accomplished, “lives are being transformed because of the efforts of the graduates through evangelism and discipleship. The process is working and tribal churches are being planted.”

The growth, momentum, and impact of the CCB is invigorating, and its continued success after these first 25 years will be the direct result of the time and resources that so many have given, and continue to give, to see this ministry flourish. Funding received to sustain the ministry of the CCB helps cover students’ transportation needs to and from villages, room and board, tuition, textbooks, and costs associated with medical care the center strives to provide. $600 enables an indigenous pastor to train for an entire year at the CCB, and contributes to the advancement of the gospel of grace in the Amazon basin of Northeast Peru.


Make it happen Will you donate to sustain the discipleship and pastoral formation work of CCB $50 per month sustains a pastor at CCB for one year. Help keep the momentum at CCB in 2017 as it celebrates 25 years.

To donate, visit: www.southamericami.wpengine.com/ccbperu.

City Church, Lima, Peru

City Church gathering, Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru, is the “new global culinary epicenter”, according to a recent article in Condé Nast Traveler. If you ask Julio Chiang what makes Lima so great, he’ll talk about the cuisine, confirming epicurean journalists’ opinions. But he’ll become more reflective, too, thinking about the greatness of the city where he was born and now lives as the founder and lead pastor of a new church—Iglesia de la Ciudad, or City Church…

The City Church video was produced in partnership with Silent Images-www.silentimages.org

Yes, the ceviche is exquisite, but Lima finds its true greatness in its 10,000,000 people. It’s a fair question: “What’s so great about an urban mass of humanity?” For Julio, the heart of Lima is about millions of God’s image bearers, so close he can touch them, all needing the gospel of grace. Recently, Julio shared how Iglesia de la Ciudad is acting as a dispenser of grace in one of the world’s greatest cities:

The name of your church is Iglesia de la Ciudad. You prefer the translation, “City Church”. Why did you choose this name for your church plant?

We wanted our name to actually include the word “Church” because we believe the only hope for the redemption and transformation of Lima is the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s the vehicle for redemption that God has chosen.

Also, we’re a church that is for the city, or “city positive”, a church that builds for the welfare of the city. Over the years the church in many instances has separated itself from urban life and culture, but God, just as he instructed Israel through the prophet Jeremiah upon entering Babylonian exile, has called us to be connected to and serve the city.

Tell us about your logo for City Church. What does the design communicate? 

First, the vertical and horizontal lines represent city streets. They intend to remind you of an urban map. Then the small circle layered over the “streets” creates the image of a cross, conveying the concept of Christ at the center of our city.

City Church, Lima, PeruAnd then the way the streets and the circle intersect, the effect is a reminder of stained glass, which for us is about tradition and history. We need to emphasize certain historical traditions of the church and contextualize them for our culture today…Read the entire interview HERE.

Happy 50th Anniversary to SAMAIR Peru!

Since 1962, SAMAIR, South America Mission’s aviation ministry, has been a catalyst for the Gospel taking root in some of the most remote areas of South America. By using airplanes as tools to move people and equipment, we have mobilized thousands of missionaries, medical personnel, and development workers to share the love of Christ with people living in communities unreachable by road.

In Peru, the people we serve live in dense jungles along the headwaters of the Amazon River. Many of these people live secluded from modern civilization and face geographical and environmental challenges. Imagine living in the jungle and being bitten by a poisonous snake, but the closest hospital is 200 miles away and there are no roads leading to it. Imagine being without clean water, without basic medical care, without access to God’s word. These things we struggle to imagine are poignant realities for the people living in Peru’s Amazon jungle. Engaging these realities to offer spiritual hope and physical relief is our purpose and passion.

Four miles down a hardpan dirt road branching from Pucallpa’s main highway sits the SAMAIR Peru hangar and missionary base. Positioned on the banks of Lake Cashibo and surrounded by thick jungle vegetation, our aviation ministry provides the only lifeline connecting hundreds of villages to the outside world, and Christian workers to those villages. Three small Cessna aircraft (one of which is a float plane) use grass airstrips cleared from the jungles, rivers, and lakes to connect thousands of people with desperate spiritual and physical
needs to the life-giving message of the Gospel.

Today, there is a 50th anniversary celebration happening at the SAMAIR Peru hangar. SAM missionaries, ministry partners, and local Peruvian government dignitaries are gathering together to celebrate the impact SAMAIR Peru has had on thousands of people. We are thankful for God’s faithfulness over the past 50 years and look forward to many more years of Kingdom-building through aviation.