Mission South America: Missionaries Seeking Mission Partners
From September 3-11, 2015, Bruce and Phyllis Ehlers and Pastor Jason Collins will be on a mission trip to South America. They will join up with Bishop Ken Clarke and The Rev. Andrew Forster from the South American Mission Society (SAMS) to strengthen and deepen mission partnerships with the Anglican Church in Chile and Peru. The team will meet personally with different key leaders and witness some of the mission and ministry already happening in those countries. They will also seek to discern how The Church of the Cross can partner with missionaries to encourage and equip our South American brothers and sisters in Christ in their mission and ministry.
The team will be in Santiago, Chile from September 3-7 before traveling to Lima, Peru from September 7-11. Please pray for safe traveling, for good health, for the filling of the Holy Spirit each day, and for discernment to find future missionary partners.
We have arrived in Santiago, Chile. An uneventful but long 9 hour flight. Pray for us!
Pastor Jason Collins, Bruce and Phyllis Ehlers
We were met at the airport by Bishop Ken Clarke and taken to a retreat center in Santiago. We are meeting with the Provincial Primates - most of the Anglican Bishops in South America. We plan to have lunch with Archbishop Tito Zavala from Chile to hear about ministry opportunities in his churches. Bishop Clarke and Archdeacon Andrew Forster are great hosts.
Buenos tardes (Good afternoon) from Santiago, Chile! Yesterday (Saturday, September 5) was a day of rest and relaxation. We were able to catch up on some sleep before heading into the heart of Santiago for some sightseeing. We visited a farmer's market somewhat similar to the Thursday afternoon market on Calhoun Street. It was adjacent to an artisan market where we saw artists working their various crafts as customers peruse their shops. There were jewelry makers, wood carvers, leather workers, painters, and textile craftsmen represented. We then went to the heart of downtown Santiago and saw the Presidential Palace, the National Congress Building, and several parks. Our own Dr. Lisa Ciresi had recommended several beautiful churches to visit, so we took her advice. The Catedral Metropolitana is a beautiful church built in the Baroque architectural style. It has "dueling pulpits" on either side of the church, a beautiful altar, and the most amazing painted ceiling with scenes from the Bible. At the end of the day, we went out to eat at Ruby Tuesday's (can you believe it?).
This morning, we had breakfast with Luke & Penelope Pratt. Luke is Irish and Penelope is Chilean. They met in Ireland when Penelope was sponsored to move to Ireland to learn ministry leadership. They married and returned to Chile where Luke is a music and English teacher and Pen is a lawyer. They are serving the Lord in the church and in the secular world here in Chile. Perhaps the model of sponsoring Chilean Christians to come to Bluffton to learn ministry leadership could be a mission model that we can pray about.
We worshiped this morning at Iglesia Santiago Apostol (the Church of Saint James the Apostle). It is a church of about 60 people that meets in a theater in the art district of Santiago. The church was founded 4 years ago by Cristobal Ceron Pi and his wife Allie. Cristobal is an Anglican pastor that was a former atheist. His wife Allie has a passion for women's ministry and she leads a women's conference and retreat every October. Their service is almost identical to our CrossPoint Services at the Buckwalter campus. They also have a young pastor named Max Diaz who helped to lead the service. Max's responsibility is to minister to college students. There are over 150,000 college students in Santiago, most of whom are not Christian or who are nominally Christian. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Bishop Clarke preached in English as Pastor Cristobal translated. It was a great message on marriage based on Ephesians 5:21-33.
Max Diaz leading a prayer of repentance based on Psalm 51
Bishop Ken Clarke preaches on Ephesians 5:21-33 in English while Pastor Cristobal Ceron Pi translates into Spanish.
Tonight, we head to Iglesia La Trinidad (the Church of the Trinity). It is a large church similar to the Church of the Cross. It has over 1,000 members and multiple services. It is the largest Anglican Church in the area.
Please continue to pray for our health and our discernment as we continue to prayerfully search out future missionary partners.
Dios te bendigas (God bless you)!
Santiago, Chile greetings! Meeting many wonderful people in the past few days. Bishop Clarke and Archdeacon Andrew Forster have made sure that we fill every moment. God is raising up many young leaders here and we have been very blessed to spend some time with each of them. We worshipped at two churches today and will be leaving for Lima tomorrow afternoon.
Blessings to everyone, continue to pray for us.
Pastor Jason, Bruce & Phyllis
Days 3 & 4:
After worshiping on Sunday morning, we had a late lunch and a siesta. Then we went to the Sunday evening service at Iglesia La Trinidad (The Church of the Trinity). It is the largest Anglican Church in Santiago, and probably the largest Anglican Church in both Chile and South America. They have 4 services and about 1,000 members. The rector is Pastor Alfredo Cooper and his personality is very similar to our friend The Rev. John Burwell, the recently retired rector of The Church of the Holy Cross on Sullivan's Island. Alf was also the chaplain to the previous President of Chile. Alf suggested that we pray about helping them build a retreat center in Santiago that could be used for Cursillo events, marriage retreats (very popular in Chile), and other various meetings.
Our team with The Rev. Alfredo Cooper and his wife Hillary. Alf is the rector of Iglesia Anglicana La Trinidad, the largest Anglican Church in Santiago.
On Monday, September 7, we went first to the Anglican Seminary called Centro de Estudios Pastorales Iglesia Anglicana de Chile. We met several faculty members and students who covet our prayers and who suggested that we pray about helping them purchase books for their library or consider financing scholarships.
A meeting with faculty and students at Centro Estudios de Pastorales, the Anglican Seminary in Santiago, Chile.
Later, we met with Pastor Nelson Ojeda, the rector of Iglesia Anglicana San Lucas Evangelista (The Anglican Church of Saint Luke the Evangelist). Nelson is a leading pastor in Chile. His church outreach includes family counseling services for children with attention deficit disorder and behavioral issues. Nelson reiterated that they need help raising up leaders and planting churches and he suggested that we pray to see if the Lord guided us to help the Church in Chile in those areas.
The Rev. Nelson Ojeda (center) poses with our team at his church: Iglesia Anglicana San Lucas Evangelista.
We left Iglesia Anglicana San Lucas Evangelista and headed to the airport for our 3 hour plane flight to Lima, Peru. After arriving safely in Peru, we were picked up at the airport by Paul Tester, a missionary from Nottingham, England (the land of Robin Hood). Paul got us checked in to our hotel, took us out for a late dinner and then we crashed for the night.
Tuesday, September 8 was an exciting day! We walked to the Iglesia Anglicana Catedral del Beun Pastor (the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Hood Shepherd). We met with Allen Shepherd (from North Carolina), who went to seminary with me. Allen is the Dean of the Cathedral and his wife Rachel is the daughter of the Bishop of Peru. Rachel leads children's ministry and women's ministry at the cathedral. They gave us an overview of ministry life in Peru before we went to have lunch with Bishop William Godfrey, his wife Judith, and some of his ministry staff.
Our lunch meeting was very exciting. Bishop Godfrey and his staff run 4 schools in the Diocese of Peru and they have plans to build 8 more schools in the next 6 years. In fact, they plan to build 8 schools that will have a church and a health clinic associated together. They want to help meet the immediate needs of the community through Christian health care, the long term needs of the community through Christian schools and Christian education, and the eternal needs of the community through the church and the salvation of Jesus. That's an exciting vision! Because of Cross Schools, they got really excited about the opportunity to partner with us! At lunch, Bishop Godfrey, Bruce Ehlers and I sketched out the plans for the school and finding opportunities to make their vision a reality.
In the afternoon, we traveled to a retreat center on a cliff overlooking the beach and the Pacific Ocean. There, Pastor Andrew Forster and Pastor Jason led Bible study devotions with the youth ministers of the diocese of Peru. We anointed them to strengthen their ministry and we prayed with them to encourage them to win the next generation of Peru for Jesus. It was a powerful time of prayer. Several of the youth leaders led us on a tour around an area of Peru and then we all went out for dinner. It was an exciting day, for sure.
We were very blessed by what we saw and experienced yesterday, but today was filled with blessings and surprises, too. Pastor Anderson Sanchez picked us up to take us to see his churches and the schools that are run by his wife and his in-laws. Our first surprise came when he said we were stopping off to visit some prisoners at a prison. When we arrived at the Centro Preventivo Del Nino Y El Adolescente, we were shocked to find that the prisoners were actually young boys. Their average age was about 12 years old. These boys were abandoned by their families and left on the streets of Lima to fend for themselves. They get picked up by the police and put into this facility until the government can figure out what to do with them. We were escorted into a small classroom and the 10 boys joined us. Anderson talked to them and reminded them how much Jesus loved them and how much he loved them. Bishop Clarke shared a brief version of his conversion experience and then he shared the Gospel in a simple and understandable way: "Gracias: Thank you, Lord for loving me; Perdon: forgive me for my sins; and Por favor: Please come into my heart, Jesus." Simple, yet brilliant! We then prayed with the boys and gave them hugs so they could see the love of Jesus from an adult who didn't intend to exploit them. It was a touching but gut-wrenching experience.
Anderson then took us to two of his churches and a school in a shanty town in the hill country on the outskirts of Peru. It reminded me of Haiti: shacks, garbage, and humanity everywhere. Thankfully, Jesus is there, too, and Anderson is doing good work at his churches: Mision San Pedro (Saint Peter's Mission) and Iglesia Anglicana Cristo del Redentor (The Anglican Church of Christ the Redeemer). There is a pre-school at Cristo del Redentor and the children were learning traffic safety on scooters. They went inside and we sang Christian songs in Spanish with them. They were very cute. I was afraid that Phyllis was going to try to bring them all home with her!
Our next stop was at Iglesia Anglicana Santos Trinidad (Holy Trinity Anglican Church) which also has a school. The pastor of this church is The Rev. Julio Montoya. Pastor Julio was the first native Peruvian ever ordained by the Anglican Church. The school is run by his wife Norma and their daughter Isabela Montoya Sanchez (Pastor Anderson's wife). They began the school in their home which is next door to the church (sounds familiar). They now have 100 students, and they have continuously added rooms to their house to accommodate more students. The students greeted us in the street by doing a native Peruvian dance. They even taught some of the dance to us. Then we went to each classroom where each grade presented projects they had been working on. In the upper classes, the students recited Scripture passages from memory: not just individual verses, but entire Psalms! It was a great day with a great church family and great kids! We were very blessed.
After a brief siesta, we had another surprise. Today marks the day that Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history. To honor Her Majesty, we went back to the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd for a service of celebration and prayer. Queen Elizabeth is a strong Christian and she is considered "The Defender of the Faith" by the Church of England. None of us ever imagined in our wildest dreams that we would be celebrating Queen Elizabeth's reign at a church in Peru! Mission trips seem to always contain surprises. We met an American from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts named Gary who has been traveling around Central and South America for 3 months by himself. He seemed a little lonely, so we invited him to attend the service with us. I think we enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed ours. We met up with another missionary from Northern Ireland named Ruth Turner and our group of missionaries - with Gary and two of Ruth's friends from Northern Ireland in tow - went out to eat together. It was a great ending to a day full of surprises.
Today is our last day in Peru. This morning, Bishop Clarke, Bruce Ehlers, The Rev. Andrew Forster, and I were picked up by Dario Gastelo for a Rotary Club of Lima breakfast meeting. It is an English-speaking group that meets in a private club that was founded loa go by English folks living in Peru. It looks like an old building that you would find in Canterbury. The club was interested in our mission activity and pledged to support whatever activities we felt that God led us to do in Lima. One of the members is a missionary logistical supporter named Rusty. Rusty and his wife arrange housing and transportation for American missionaries coming into to Peru. He will likely be a handy contact to have.
Anderson Sanchez picked us up from our hotel and took us to an outdoor market for some souvenir shopping on our way to the airport. Anderson gave us each a satchel that is representative of Peruvian textiles. In Ireland, the satchel is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of missionaries, so it has a lot of meaning for us. The Peruvian people are very hospitable and generous.
We had an unexpected stop on the way to the airport. A policeman stopped Anderson for having dark tinted windows. One policeman wanted to take us to the police station for detaining. When he went back to the police car, we began to pray. His police partner then approached the car, Anderson preached to him, and he let us go. There is power in prayer and in the Gospel of Jesus!
At the airport, we met with Bishop Alejandro Mesco and his son Rolando. Bishop Mesco is the new bishop for the southern part of Peru. He outlined several missionary opportunities that could develop in his area of Peru. More missionary ideas to pray about.
We are now waiting to catch our overnight flight back to the United States. We have much to pray about. Please pray for safe travels and join us as we pray to see what the El Señor Jesucristo would have us do in this part of His kingdom.
Hasta pronto (see you soon)!
Pastor Jason and Bruce & Phyllis Ehlers