Last Friday morning I awoke 10 hours into a bus ride from Lima. I groggily wiped a patch of window free of condensation to peer into the pre-dawn gloom. "The ground is a strange color," I thought, "and what a strange texture. What could that be?" Then it hit me: the ground was covered in green grass!
Things became clearer and clearer as we sped through a valley that resembled a mix between the Garden of Eden and a fairytale wood. As we rounded a curve I was met with the awesome view of the sun rising over the folds of painted mountains. What a view after many months in the desert!
When I arrived in town, I joined up with a team of six as they spent time in Ayacucho and Huanta to make connections, learn culture, and build bridges, as two of them, Rick and Donna Martin, plan on coming to the region to plant a church.
Aycucho is the place where the Shining Path, a maoist gurilla movement, had it's birth in the 1980s. From Ayacucho violence and unrest spread across Peru causing death, destruction, and migrations of rural peoples to find refuge in cities. The Peruvian military began to fight back not only against the militants, but against anyone who helped them or anyone suspected of helping them. Many villages were decimated and women and children murdered by both sides. The violence has left it's mark on the people of this beautiful region.
After a couple days learning and networking in Ayacucho, we left for Huanta, a picturesque town about an hour away. We met up with Pastor Nicolas Ticona, his wife Stacie, and his two sons. We were shown around the school he works with, Johannes Gutenberg, a private school that serves the poorest children in the community. We also met with Pastor Nico's church and I helped translate for the team during a few of the church meetings and member home visits.
After a few days in Huanta, we traveled back to Ayacucho to do some more networking, and prepare for departure. After the team left, I stayed with a missionary couple I had met with the team for a couple of days.
Walter and Mary Lynne Wood have lived in Ayacucho for over 15 years, working to start ISOM schools for pastors and church leaders in remote Quechua-speaking communities. Because travel to the city for extended periods is impossible for most rural pastors, the video-based, low-cost training offered as a part of the Quechua Bible Institute is ideal.
The pastors of these rural communities become administrators and discussion leaders of the IBQ programs after attending condensed training sessions. It is amazing to see the multiplication of Bible Training programs across remote villages. Many of the students are only semi-literate at the beginning of the program, but finish to earn their certificate, often the first certificate of any kind in their lives. They are currently putting the finishing touches on a Quechua translation of What Every Pastor Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers.
It was incredibly encouraging to talk to the Woods, to hear their stories of God's provision and fruit. It would be hard to find a more hospitable couple, and their love for their city was infectious. I feel privileged to have visited these beautiful mountains, met so many incredible missionaries this week, and seen the work that God is doing through them.