The first Challenger of 2009 unveiled a new program geared to jumpstart church-planting in Latin America, the continent where BIEM founder Peter Slobodian accepted the Lord. The plan is to provide limited support for two years for Peruvian Bible school graduates who are eager to plant churches. BIEM's Latin America Field Director, Andy Counterman, provides this news from Peru.
Just before the annual BIEM Board meeting in Indianapolis, I had the privilege of attending a pastors' meeting in the high jungle of Peru. After flying into the city of Tarapoto, I met the president of the seminary in Trujillo, Enoc Principe, and the next Peruvian church-starter for BIEM, Luis Escobar. We had lunch in Tarapoto, and Luis showed us where his church is meeting and introduced us to his family. His dirt-floor church is not uncommon in Peru. This quiet man, a product of the Peruvian army special forces, now holds his child, and in a voice full of excitement shares his vision of a room full of believers.
From Tarapoto, we traveled into the jungle to a small town called Chazuta. This dirt-road town houses a church of over 100. The humble house of God looked primitive in contrast to the Catholic church in the center of town. Yet, in another sharp contrast, this humble meeting place of believers was alive! Over 100 pastors and missionaries from the jungle as well as other towns and cities of Peru met there for instruction and encouragement throughout the week.
I had the privilege of preaching three times and conducted several "side-bar" meetings throughout the four days we were there. I was also able to do follow-up with Segundo Rodriguez, Luis, Joel Gamboa, and strategic planning with Enoc.
As we reflected on the wonderful possibilities in Peru, we ran some numbers. The average seminary graduate in Peru is able to go full-time in ministry for about $6,000 per year. BIEM underwrites these men for two years of full-time ministry. If we do the math, for less than a purchased cup of coffee, five days a week for two years, 20 people could start churches in Peru. Perhaps I could be so bold as to suggest you invest a "cup of coffee" per day in Peru as we open all of South America. Souls are being saved, and churches are being started in this wasteland of empty religion. You can make a difference! Oh yes, as you invest a cup for Peru, pray as you enjoy your cup each morning.
Is the Lord prompting you to help place a church-planter on the fields of Latin America? If so, please designate your gift "Latin America."