Jeyachandran Family

Enjoying Church in Arequipa

29 Aug 2011

Have you been tempted to buy a lucky charm or to make an offering to the “mother god”? The average person in Peru may face quite different temptations but we are all tempted at times to compromise our devotion to God. The Bible speaks to us where ever we are. Pastor Efrain, from our church, is currently preaching through the book of 2 Kings. This book has many practical applications for us today as we look at the people of Israel during the time of syncretism when Israel worshipped the Living God, as well as followed other gods. Even with my limited Spanish I've been enjoying these talks.

Efrain and our family
Pastor Efrain from Calvary Chapel Arequipa with us

We hope to record these talks and make them available on the Internet (thanks to a few tips from friends in Concord Baptist). We feel that this systematic Bible teaching will be a valuable resource for Latin America.

I meet with pastor Efrain once a week and we practice Spanish and talk about life in Peru. This church is very relevant to our future work in Arequipa because of the excellent work they are doing among University students. I've enjoyed learning about the challenges of sharing the gospel in Peru. It is also a great encouragement.

I don't feel so bad making blunders in Spanish after hearing a mistake that Efrain made in English. Efrain was born in Peru and had the opportunity to study at a Bible college in the UK. Here he said farewell to a fellow female student with the words “See you later. We will touch!”. She seemed surprised! He of course meant to “keep in touch!”

Please Pray

  • thank God for Calvary Chapel in Arequipa and their teaching of God's Word.
  • thank God for their growth – last week we almost ran out of room
  • pray for more leaders who will impact Arequipa and beyond

More Photos

Dried alpacas that can be purchased in the markets and buried in the ground as a sacrifice to the Pachamama (Mother god)

Lucky charms that some believe will bring wealth. The teaching in 2 Kings is very relevant.

"Hasta Luego" (see you later).

The Internet and Missions

27 Aug 2011

Can technology help to better connect Churches with missions? I couldn't help but ask the question, especially since I used to work with computers. So after chatting with missionaries, several mission agencies and with people who supported missions the concept of a website called MissionsHub.org has developed.

So now we have a platform where potentially hundreds of missionaries can quickly setup their own site (a “blog”) and share what God is doing. You can get updates from particular missionaries or you can choose to get updates based on a particular criteria (coming soon) eg., updates from missionaries in “Europe” involved in “Church Planting”.

I am really grateful to several people who helped to guide this project including Sean Boucher from WEC, Glenyss Barnham from SIM and Tim Silberman from SMBC. One surprise was a friend, James Henley, from my language school here who happened to be skilled in video production. See the video he created to introduce MissionsHub.org to mission reps at the ReachOut conference.

I also need to thank my team back in Australia (at a bank I worked at) that helped to get this project started. In a single day we built the prototype that is the basis of MissionsHub.org. Thanks to Kiran Kumar my team leader, Madhan Mohan, David Doyle, Chuong Vu and Daniel Jeffries. This team build some amazing websites and I couldn't have got this off the ground without their help. For example Madhan wrote code that pulls a map of the selected country from Wikipedia.

A website like this needs a team to develop and maintain it. It has been great to connect with developers here in Arequipa too to get their input. Last night we had two developers over for dinner and we looked at how we can make MissionsHub.org available on mobile phones (if you've got a smart-phone try it now - www.missionshub.org/jeyachandran-family). Pray that I learn Spanish quickly because I currently understand about 50% of the conversation. I have also connected with the person who heads the community of Peruvian developers (for this particular web technology). By God's providence he is a passionate Christian and has suggested ways that this could be made into a community project.

Fernando (who heads the Drupal web developers community in Peru) and his wife Nancy

Please pray:

  • that this will be a valuable resource for missions that will bring glory to God
  • that more web developers here in Peru will be involved
  • that I will be able to use computers to connect with students at the University

Holiday in the Canyon

06 Aug 2011

Here's some photos from a three day break we had in the Colca Canyon. At a depth of over 4000m, the canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. It is also famous for it condors. 

Family on the Road The long road to the Canyon (we actually took the bus)

 

Amazing views of the distant mountains

 

The girls loved the baby alpacas - so cute and soft

 

We're ready for the cold

 

We visited a spot where the famous Condors love to hangout

 

Condor lookout perched on the edge of the Canyon

 

Condors - amazing birds!

 

 

Our new home in Peru

25 Jul 2011

It was amazing to fly into Arequipa. The city really is stunning! This place which will be our new home is nestled among in the Andes mountains. It is great to finally be here.

Flight our of ArequipaCopyright Leonardo Correa Luna all rights reserved

When we came out of the airport were were greeted by the cheering SIM (mission) team. We felt very welcome - it was almost like a home coming even though we'd never met most of these people.

Before getting to Arequipa we spent a week in the capital Lima where we also made welcome. We stayed in the guest house with a lovely American missionary family whom our girls absolutely loved. We got to meet lots of other missionary families and experienced their hospitality. So we haven't had the chance to feel culture shock. The mission has helped make this a really easy transition by getting us to meet many families who have already done what we're going to do. Even for the official matters, someone from the mission accompanied us to government offices so we could begin our residency process.

Twins in LimaMission Team in Lima

I'm looking forward to learning and practicing Spanish. I currently know enough Spanish to get myself into trouble. For example, on the flight I asked the stewardess in Spanish for a spoon for my baby - so I thought. She looked concerned and puzzled. I had actually asked for a knife for the baby.

The twins are enjoying all the attention and have had a lot of fun. The travelling has also been hard on them. Annabelle said she didn't want to go to the airport again. The most painful was in Santiago airport, where we spent more than two hours stuck on a plane, waiting for the fog to clear before we could take off. No more flights for awhile now. Our last flight into Arequipa was our best so far. It was good because of the views but also because we could enjoy them as the kids slept.

It's easy to have start conversations with people when the kids are with us. Peruvians love to chat about kids and especially babies. Annabelle and Amelia now can say "Hola" and "Chao". Amelia was teaching Samuel how to say "Hola" the other day.

Twins in LimaTwins in Lima

There was just one thing that got me down. I made a really frustrating mistake when I got off the plane in Arequipa and was collecting our luggage. I left my suit-bag in the luggage collection area. With a lot of luggage and kids to manage too I put the suit-bag down and just forgot to pick it up again. I only realised when I got to the Guest House. It was too late to go back to the airport so we'd have to return the following day. I prayed with Christine and we had a few others pray too like my mum in Australia and the missionaries here. I realised it would be a miracle to get it back. I told myself that it was nothing important - it's not like it contained anything irreplaceable or something I couldn't live without. I was still feeling down! Before coming to Peru I had given away most of my clothes and I found that pretty easy to do. I kept my favourite suit and my five favourite shirts that were in that bag and to lose those was... hard. I went to sleep knowing that it was really in God's hands.

Next day... We went to the airport with a missionary here called Siegfried. We asked several people if they had seen the bag and the answer was "no" but eventually someone walked out holding the suit-bag. We thanked God and celebrated! I smiled more than usual that morning.

David with the Suit-BagDavid with the suit-bag

This was a good reminder for me to trust God even in the small things. In Matthew 6:28 it specifically asks us not to worry about clothes. Whether my clothes were found or not I need to remember that God has things under control. There will be much bigger things to worry about but our God has things under control.

Hasta Luego (see you later) from the family.

Sometimes missionaries need to duck

09 Jul 2011

In Peru there seem to be a lot of low doors and I discovered one as I ran into it. I still remember the clang of the steel as I fell backwards from the impact to my head. There was a fair bit of blood. By God's grace I could not have done it at a better time. It was during a mission meeting and there were two doctors and two nurses at hand and they were able to quickly stitch up the wound. Allen and Amy stitched me up while Dorothee and Siegfried prepared the equipment needed.


If you're interested you can watch the video of me getting stitched up

Thank God for caring (and skilled) missionary family here in Arequipa.

What are the needs in Peru?

09 Feb 2011

There is currently a huge need in Peru. Peru, as with many other South American countries, has had times of political instability. In 1983 a Maoist group called the Shining Path attempted to take over the country and establish a communist state. There were numerous masacres and public killings. What this meant was the people lived in fear! God still used this time and in the ten years that the Shining Path operated, thousands, actually over a million people joined the Evangelical church.

So the evangelical church doubled in size going from 7% to almost 14% of population. As a result of this explosive growth there is a great need for training and discipleship, especially of young people. There are hundreds of young pastors that have only been a Christian for a short time themselves and have had no chance to do any training.

Village Church
photo by Lisa Fitzgerald

Though the country is 85% Roman Catholic, the beliefs of people are often interwined with old animistic religions. At times it is very ritualistic and given that Spanish Conquerers brought this religion by force - it's sometimes just a thin veneer over what people have always believed.

Read about why we feel that a University Student Ministry will address some of these needs. Also read about how the University Christians groups grew through the times of persecution.

Serving in Peru

05 Feb 2011

After spending two months on a short-term mission in Peru we saw the huge needs and felt that God could really use us in Peru.

Llama at Machu Pichu

When we got married we decided to do a short-term mission? Christine was happy to go anywhere. I immediately suggested Bolivia in South America. I had been to Bolivia on holiday twice before. I felt a connection with the people and thought that this was one of the most beautiful countries in the world with the Amazon jungles and the Andes mountains. I had also sponsored a child named Junior in Bolivia through Compassion.

We approached the mission organisation SIM (Serving in Mission) with our plans for spending a couple of months in Bolivia on a short-term mission. Most of the contacts that SIM Australia had were in Peru and we were asked if we'd be happy to go to Peru instead. Peru borders Bolivia and is similar in many ways. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and Peru comes next. We said we were happy to go to Peru.

While in Peru, we stayed with missionaries in a small village called Cotahuasi (pronounced coat-ah-wah-see). It is here that we saw the huge needs in Peru. We felt that working in a University ministry would address some of these needs. Peru is also a country of great opportunity for the good news of Jesus. There is now an incredible openess to the gospel and the church in Peru seeks to make a difference in their community. It is a time of political stability. The village where we spent two months during our short-term mission was just fifteen years ago out of bounds for foreigners because of the Shining Path who operated in the area.

These are a few of the reasons we've decided to head to Peru. We are also glad that Spanish is a relatively easy language for English speakers to pick up. I have some basic Spanish having spent about five months in South America over three trips. Christine has had about two months of exposure to Spanish. We are looking forward to when our children can correct our Spanish.

Christine in Peruvian village

It has been great that some of our long time friends have been missionaries to Peru. Phillip and Diane Marshall were sent from Blakehurst Baptist which was my home church for about 20 years. In the last few years we've learnt much from them personally and also in lectures. Phillip is a lecturer at Morling Bible College and has great cultural insights. Christine's Sunday School teacher also ended up being a missionary in Peru and she too has been the source of much wisdom (and laughter). Recently we've got to know Edwin and Diane Porter who have given us our most up to date information on Peru along with lots of very practical tips. Their love for the Peruvian people has inspired us.

Beyond Terrorism - Growth despite Persecution

04 Feb 2011

Michael and Mary Foster were Australian missionaries to Peru who have worked with University students for many years. We have learnt a lot from their ministry and they have been an inspiration to us. Here they reflect on a time of persecution and a time of growth.

In the mid-eighties, a radical university student group known as the Shining Path started a movement on a campus in the highlands of Peru, targeting universities throughout the country. Their leftist teachings and demands for change caused a reign of terror and bloody revolution, which resulted in 63,000* deaths, including many university students.(* this statistic only released after a commission of Truth in 2003)

Christian Students on campus at the time when the Shining Path took over the university said that despite the difficult circumstances and persecution, the desire to share the gospel and proclaim its truth burned within her.

In fact this persecution was a major factor in the growth of a Christian groups on campuses throughout Peru. This student movement was started by Samuel Escobar in 1963. Samuel went on to be a well know Latin theologian and the group became known as the Association of Peruvian Evangelical University Students (AGEUP), a national student movement related to IFES.

Australian missionaries Michael and Mary Foster began SIM’s partnership with AGEUP in 1992 when they were accepted as staff workers. At the time they said, “It is an honour to be officially accepted as staff workers with these militant Christians who have counted the cost and strive to share the gospel in the light of Peruvian reality”.

In 1991 there were 12 AGEUP groups throughout the universities of Peru and by 2004 there were 64. Not only did God use persecution to grow the groups, but also the universities strategy of diversification. As satellite campuses were set up throughout the country, there were many more centres in which to plant Christian groups!

 

Dealing with Rapid Growth

As the movement grew rapidly, Michael, Mary and the four Peruvian staff workers couldn’t provide the training and pastoral care needed for leaders of all the groups and there were no finances available to employ more staff. They trained a team of 25 graduates who were committed to ministry and willing to work on a voluntary basis. This has been a vital key to facilitating growth and pastoral care on campuses throughout Peru.

The AGEUP groups are effective because they are based on student leadership and initiatives and are relevant to society. Social action and justice flow from evangelism empowered by bible teaching. They seek to have a prophetic voice in society in the Latin American context.

The incredible diversity of culture throughout the universities of Peru provides equally diverse challenges and opportunities. The prestigious private universities were virtually impenetrable to Christian work before 2001 when God miraculously opened a door for AGEUP to set up groups. By 2004 there were 5 groups in the prestiguious private universities, reaching out to students, many of whom will become future leaders within Peru and beyond. Students have even managed to maintain and evangelical witness on the large Catholic university campus in Lima!

 

Impacting Peru

AGEUP groups have already had a huge impact on the church and evangelical scene in Peru. The director of World Vision, director of Compassion and leaders of the Evangelical Alliance and other denominational leaders have all been part of the student movement.

Michael and Mary Foster and their son Camden returned to Australia for health reasons. They are still in regular contact with the students and staff who have been so much a part of their life and ministry for over thirteen years.

AGEUP is growing at an amazing rate and regional workers are working to capacity but finances continue to be a hindrance. A US-based foundation has helped AGEUP establish two Internet cafes in Lima, with the vision to raise funds to support much needed staff workers.

 

Strategic Work

This is a strategic work, impacting generations of university students with the gospel and training young people for leadership. Jaime , a Peruvian-born Chinese architectural student, helps us bring sweeping statements of growth down to the level of strong personal testimony. Some years ago Jaime’s pastor came to the AGEUP office to discuss the change he had seen in Jamie’s life since his involvement with AGEUP. He was eager to know more about the student ministry because he had been impressed with Jamie’s maturity in the Word, zeal for the gospel and keenness to share his faith.

Before leaving Peru, Michael and Mary challenged Jamie to become a staff worker, even though they knew this would mean great personal cost for him. His honest response was that he couldn’t leave his career behind.

Recently Jamie wrote to say that God had been speaking to him and he could no longer say “No”. He is now working with AGEUP and is in charge of projects. This multi-talented young man is a tremendous asset to the student movement in Peru.

The Shining Path movement sought to bring change through revolution and a reign of terror. AGEUP seeks to bring change through the grace of God.

Quick Success Stories

Tanya is an amazing success story from a Compassion project in an inner city slum of Peru. She was studying law. One day she heard another law student crying in the university toilets. Tanya cared for her and introduced her to Jesus. Tanya is now totally convinced that the Word of God is applicable and helpful to all sorts of people in any circumstances. What a wonderful lesson to take with her into her career.

Joel’s involvement with AGEUP has helped him not only in his spiritual growth but also in many practical ways. He has learnt organisational skills and leadership qualities by training as a student group leader that have helped him establish his own computer business – abilities that his course didn’t provide. He is so grateful to the AGEUP leadership for this practical input.

Why University Students?

09 Jan 2011

Missionaries who have worked for many years with University Students talk about about why they feel this ministry is important. Michael and Mary Foster spent over ten years working with University students in Peru. According to Mary, University ministry is "strategic, dynamic and very rewarding". Here are more of her insights into the needs in Student ministry.

Mary Forster teaching University Students

Mary Foster teaching students

  • Peru has many large universities with over 5000 students
  • 6 Paid staff at over 66 Universities throughout the country (statistic from 2005)
  • Missionaries work well with IFES related university organisations. This is unlike in the 70s and 80s when foreign partnership meant imperialism and was rejected in most universities
  • Student ministries currently produce a large percentage of Christian leaders in Peru. For example the leader of World Vision , Compassion and the Evangelical Alliance are all graduates of the student movement.

More information about the University Ministry

  • Student ministry in Peru is linked with IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students). The ministry in Peru is called AGEUP which is a Spanish anacronym.
  • University Groups are mostly student run
  • Student movements in Peru have a national leadership which we will work under.
  • Students in Latin America speak about out about political issues and justice is high on their agenda
  • They are passionate about understanding the whole gospel in terms of evangelism and social action as well as teaching the Bible clearly at meetings.

We asked Edwin and Diane Porter, who have been missionaries in Peru for many years, what they felt were the greatest needs in Peru. This is what they said...

"It is true to say that tomorrow’s leadership of Peru is attending University today which highlights the enormous need for a strong Christian presence on campus. Attending University brings the student under the pressure of diverse social and academic influences, it is therefore important that there is a group of Christians on campus who are active in their faith and able to encourage one another. The impact on the lives of students in reinforcing the importance of living for Christ and reaching out with the Gospel message during their university life has far reaching and long term effects for not only does it encourage the students to follow Christ during those formative university years it also aids them in their formation for the future and how they live their lives in the home, at work and in the church. The evangelical church in Peru and those missions including SIM who are working in Peru are seizing the opportunity to encourage Christian students by giving them the tools they need to grow in their faith and to reach out to their families, friends and colleagues.

With the help of missionaries like David and Christine working in the Universities in Lima, Arequipa and across Peru, many Christians have been and will be strengthened in their faith and given the tools they need to face the challenges of their future lives and ministry".

Read more

Why is university ministry important?

Amazing Story from the Peruvian Highlands

09 Oct 2006

The gospel is being taken to the ends of the earth. I had heard of the gospel being taken to ‘deepest darkest Africa’. Well this was the other extreme. High in the South American Andes, at 4700m there is a little village called Culipampa which I had the privilege of visiting.

High in the Andes

This place on the Peruvian altiplano (Spanish for ‘high plain’) is almost like a different planet. At this altitude there are no trees. It is a dry, barren, hostile and strikingly beautiful place. It is as remote a place as I could imagine.  

What makes it even more incredible is that almost the entire village, of about fifty people, are practicing Christians. One member of this community, a man named Policarpio, had worked in one of the larger cities and had come to know the Lord through a missionary. He returned to his village to tell them of the good news and … there was an incredible revival – basically the whole village turned to Jesus.

Policarpio who lead his village to JesusPolicarpio who lead his village to Jesus

Brad Shaw, the missionary we are staying with, knows the missionary that led this one person to the Lord. He said that this is the kind of story that keeps missionaries going for a long time. Often it is years of hard work just faithfully sharing the gospel to see someone come to know Jesus. The purpose of coming to Culipampa was to facilitate a leadership-training program.

Tiny village of CulipampaTiny village of Culipampa

The program was intense. It began with a prayer meeting at 6am. There were three sessions through the day, each session went for about three and a half hours. There were no toilet breaks, no breaks to get a cup of tea and perhaps some biscuits. Each session began with singing followed by a sermon, more singing, another sermon, more singing, a testimony, more singing. The people’s desire to hear God’s word was incredible. I was exhausted! Even during the breaks I would see people crowding around someone who was explaining the Bible. I asked Brad ‘How do they do it? How can they keep going for hour after hour?’ Brad gave me two reasons. Firstly they really love Jesus and they are hungry for His Word. Secondly, we are used to receiving Bible teaching at least weekly. These people get this kind of thing only once every two months so they are eager to learn as much as possible in the short time they have. The whole program was in Quechua, the local language and I understood nothing. I tried to follow the talks by looking up the passages in my English Bible. The speakers were often quite animated when giving illustrations and during the break I would ask someone to describe what was happening. The description would be in Spanish and I could understand that a little. We had about forty people during the morning and afternoon sessions and over seventy at the evening session.

Cooking on the altiplanoCooking alpaca

The food was great. We got alpaca steaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The alpaca is a South American animal that is very similar to the llama. Alpaca wool is softer and much more sought after than llama wool. The meat was very tasty. I wish I could describe it – it was nothing like chicken. After a day of eating meat morning, noon and night I realized my body was not going to be able to handle this and I had to go vegetarian for a few meals. Vegetables don’t grow at this altitude so have to be trucked in. They are more expensive but we had plenty.

AlpacasAlpacas on the road

If you weren’t in direct sunlight, it was cold. It was constantly ridiculously cold. I had packed for South America expecting to do an ice-climb so I had good warm clothing – thermals and three jackets. When the sun went down I wore all of them. It was ridiculously cold. During prayer, head wear was removed as a sign of reverence to God. Sometimes I hoped the prayer would end quickly so I could put my beanie back on. I never thought I’d say this but I’ve seen it snowing inside a church, yes inside the church. It was obviously snowing outside and the roof must have had gaps for ventilation and it was quite surreal to have snow gently gliding down from the ceiling. A few flakes landed on my open Bible, immediately melting. In one of the evening sessions they called me up to the front and introduced me as a brother from Australia. I sent greetings from my church in Australia and, as is customary here, the people responded vocally to send their greeting back. So friends in Australia - greeting from your brothers and sisters in the Lord at Culipampa, Peru. Fortunately I was warned before hand that they would expect me to give a talk or share a favourite Bible passage. I shared from the passage Mark 2:1-12. It was translated into Spanish and then into Quechua. There was no Quechua speaker who knew English hence it had to go via Spanish.

Ice crystals on the inside of the carIce crystals on the inside of the car

Saying the nights at Culipampa were freezing would be an understatement. The temperature never got as high as zero. I slept on the floor of the four-wheel drive, the seat folded back. My sleeping bag was rated to –10 degrees Celsius. I’ve slept in a tent on a glacier at 5500m on two previous occasions with this sleeping bag and had been quite cosy. I could not figure out why I was so cold here. I lost feeling in my feet pretty promptly after getting into bed. I had two layers of socks on. I took my socks off and massaged my feet, hoping to get the circulation back but to no avail. I just had to go to sleep. It was a long night! Annoyingly I had to wake up about four times through the night visit to the toilet – I got out of my sleeping bag, put on a second jacket (I wore one in my sleeping bag), boots and then ventured into the cold. I was glad when the sun came up. Inside the cabin of the four-wheel drive, after the sun came up the thermometer read –10 degrees. I would hate to guess how cold it was in the middle of the night. On the final evening we showed the Jesus movie, heard a talk followed by several testimonies. I found out later about one of the testimonies. A lady who had come to know the Lord was married to a violent, alcoholic man. She prayed much for him and later he too gave his life to the Lord. The Lord has transformed their lives and their marriage. Her husband was there listening to the testimony. Straight after the testimony another sermon began. It was 11:30pm and I was exhausted. I knew this could go on for hours. I had planned to stay to the end but I was really struggling. I quietly snuck out and soon after I was asleep in my sleeping bag. I woke up at about 2am feeling very cold. I could hear them singing in church - they were still going. For a few minutes I seriously considered getting up, getting dressed and going to church again. At least I’d be warmer. I couldn’t feel my feet again but tonight I could not be bothered trying to massage them. I was just too tired and I figured they’d be fine once the sun came up. I fell asleep.

Village in the Cotahuasi CanyonVillage in the Canyon

We headed back home to Cotahuasi the next morning. Ten of us were packed into one four-wheel drive and seven in another. We snaked along narrow windy roads and I just soaked in the incredible scenery. Brad often pointed out a series of specks, a isolated village on a small outcrop of flat land, perched on the side of a steep mountain. He would name the village and describe what God was doing there. Many of these villages had no vehicular access. Along with several local missionaries, Santiago, Freddie and David, Brad had trekked into most villages in this area.

Cotahuasi CanyonAmazing scenery in the Cotahuasi Canyon

Often they used donkeys to carry in a projector and generator and showed the Jesus movie on a hanging white bedsheet. The movie had been dubbed into the local Quechua language and they would then share the gospel. They would visit regularly when possible. In some villages a strong church had formed and while in other villages there was very little response. Brad pointed out a few villages that still needed to be visited for the first time.

Missionaries visiting some local people along the wayMissionaries Brad, Santiago and Freddie on the right visiting some local people along the way

The trip was a great opportunity to see how God was working in this village. It was exciting and encouraging to see people who were passionate about God and His Word. Still there is so much to be done. God has a plan…

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