Eva Sanchez looked out the window and sighed. She and her husband had just moved back to his hometown on the coast of northern Peru. But Eva couldn’t find an Adventist church in town, or even a single Adventist believer.
Eva eventually found an Adventist congregation some 30 minutes away by bus. She joined that church and became involved in women’s and children’s ministries. But she couldn’t forget the mission field in her new hometown. She invited her new neighbors to a small group meeting in her home. Then during Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, Eva rented a little hall and held special meetings. She invited her small-group members and urged them to invite their neighbors and relatives. And they did.
Eva learned that Pedro, one man who was attending her meetings, lived in a trash dump. He came to the first meeting smelling of filth and alcohol. Pedro returned every night, and every time he smelled a little cleaner than he had before.
When Eva offered to study the Bible with those who were interested, Pedro was the first to respond. He was the first to ask for baptism after the Bible studies were completed. When Eva gently suggested that he might not be ready for baptism yet, he responded, “Oh, yes, I am. I have met my Father, and I want to follow Him.” Eva thought of the changes she had seen in Pedro’s life. He was clean and sober, and he loved Jesus. He and seven others were baptized together.
Pedro was a new man, but he still lived in the dump. Then a few days after his baptism, a longtime friend asked Pedro to live in his house and be the caretaker.
Because there was no church in town, Eva took the new believers to the church 30 minutes away by bus.
Eva looked for more ways to reach the residents of her new community for Christ. Across the street from her home was a park. Loud music pulsed through the night air, and youth gathered to drink and use drugs. Often the young people threw trash in neighborhood yards, and sometimes they even threw stones. Eva wondered how she could reach out to these young people. But she didn’t know their culture or how to connect with them. “God, help me get to know these young people who need You so much,” she prayed.
Eva learned that Daisy, one of her small-group members, knew one of the girls who often hung out in the park. Daisy offered to introduce Eva to the girl. Eva baked a cake and wrote, “I love Nelita, but Jesus loves her more.” Then she and Daisy took the cake to Nelita, the girl in the park. Nelita accepted the cake, and the three talked. Nelita told them about the problems at home that had driven her to the park and a troubled lifestyle.
Eva listened with sincere concern. As the two became better acquainted, Eva invited Nelita to study the Bible. Nelita agreed. She was concerned about how her parents would react, but she was eager to find a better life and decided to invite her friends to join her.
Eva invited her teenage son Moses to lead the Bible study group. Moses wasn’t sure he could do it, but finally he agreed, saying, “I’ll go, but you must pray.” Eva agreed.
Moses returned from the Bible study glowing with excitement. “Everyone had so many questions,” he said. Several weeks later Eva visited the small group. As she approached the house, she heard singing. She smiled, for the young people who had once cursed God were now singing His praises.
Several months later Nelita and two other young people were baptized. One of them, Matias [Mah-TEE-us], had once thrown stones at Eva’s house. Today he leads the youth group in the growing congregation that now meets in their town.
Nelita, who had once caused some of the disturbance in the park’s neighborhood, now shares her faith with those same young people.
“When I came to this town I was the only Adventist,” Eva says. “But God has given me a wonderful family.” Eva’s church family has grown to more than 75 members plus many children. They meet in a small building with a courtyard over which they have spread a tarp. With the help of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering, the congregation will build a church where the tarp now hangs. “It will be simple,” she says smiling. “But it will be to the glory of God.”
Thank you for helping reach the people of Huanchaco [wahn-CHAH-koh], Peru, with your offering.