May 5, 2017

First Food, Then Hope

Jaime Vilcapoma, South American Division News

It’s not easy to talk about hope to people who have lost everything they owned. The South American nation of Peru has suffered heavy rains and floods lately, which resulted in over 100 people dead and 140,000 displaced.

How to discuss hope amid so much destruction? The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Peru has stepped up to assist and feed over 47,000 people, distributing over 180,000 food and clothing kits after the disaster.

The work of ADRA Peru was mainly concentrated in areas where at-risk and low-income populations live. On a typical day during a recent drive, thousands of volunteers donning colorful vests spent hours in various warehouses across the country receiving food and clothing donations, preparing the packages to be distributed, registering those affected by the flood in partnership with the National Civil Defense Institute, and distributing assistance kits among the victims.

A Holistic Rescue Plan

As “Holy Week”—as the week around Easter is called in many countries—approached, the Adventist Church in Peru organized impact and evangelistic activities across the nation. In the Northern Peru church region, thousands of speakers and church members shared messages from Scripture under the theme “The Rescue,” which draws on a film produced by the Adventist Church in South America which premiered that week across the region.

A group of church leaders and local pastors drove in a caravan together from the capital city of Lima to the city of Chimbote six hours north, to support the outreach and evangelistic activities organized by the regional church.

“We have come to preach during this special week, sharing hope with one hand and solidarity with the other,” said Walter Murillo, treasurer of the Adventist Church in northern Peru. “We want the Holy Spirit to use us.”

On Saturday afternoon a week before Easter, members and volunteers worked to assist some of the victims of the recent floods in the area. That evening, “The Rescue” movie premiered at a local venue.

“I feel joyful because my life is about to change—I will be a new person.”

The special week was divided in two—the first half of the week, members and guests met in small groups in members’ homes; the second half, they met at local churches, tents, in street gatherings, and even on top of nearby hills. Concurrently, children enjoyed a program specially geared to their needs which included praise and worship moments and stories on the life of Jesus.

Visitation of interests by guest speakers was also essential. By the end of the week, many who had been studying the Bible for months made their decision to follow Jesus.

“I feel joyful because my life is about to change—I will be a new person,” said Richard Carrión, one of the Bible students, before his baptism. “It is my wish to surrender my life to the Lord, to walk through life with Him from now on.”

At the end of the week, every church area involved organized a special convocation at which they listened to testimonies of God’s work and witnessed the baptism of the new members. Now the Church has committed to nurturing these new disciples of Jesus, as leaders called seasoned members to reach out to the new ones.

“We call everyone to encourage the new members, so that they may stay firm and contribute to sharing Christ and His love with others,” leaders said.