Operation Cover Peru a Success!
Imagine living at 14,000 feet elevation with little to keep you warm at night during the blisteringly cold winters. Oh, and you’re 4-years-old. Or, 74-years-old. And you haven’t heard about the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
This is reality in the much of the Andes Mountains of Peru, South America. My team and I had the privilege of venturing there this summer, braving the high altitude and very different foods. And it was the trip of a lifetime!
Why We Went to Peru
In late 2011, two young ladies were led of God to begin a ministry called Cover Peru. This ministry raises funds to purchase Bibles and blankets for the many children and elderly who suffer (and many die) from the extreme cold winters that slam the high Andes Mountains. Hannah McDuffee and Madison Stratton raised several thousand dollars for Cover Peru, and I had the privilege of leading them, along with my son Jonathan, on this trip to distribute these blankets to the beautiful people of Peru.
It took us 24 hours to get to our destination–Andahuaylas, Apurimac. Our team landed in Lima late on Friday, July 26. A church warmly welcomed us in to sleep, but we only had about 3.5 hours before we had to make our way back to the airport. Finally, our twin-prop plane landed at the Andahuaylas airport, and it was cold and beautiful!
We stayed with Mike and Tammy Riggs and their son, Chris. Mike is doing a difficult and fantastic job of training Peruvian men to be pastors to the hundreds of village churches throughout the Apurimac region. Many of the former pastors were killed during the 1990s by the terrorist group called the Shining Path. It is incredible to see the progress Believer’s Bridge has made because of Mike and his team. We spent the first day resting and allowing our bodies to adjust to the altitude. Many people suffer from altitude sickness at 6,000 feet. We were at 10,000 feet in Andahuaylas and parts of our journey took us to 16,000 feet! Some people get bad headaches, and others get very sick. Thankfully, none of us had any issues, and we praise God for His protection!
God’s Love in Action
The sights were incredible! Snow-capped mountains and deep, rugged valleys stretched as far as the eye could see. We traveled rocky roads that twisted around the mountain faces. The next 3 days were the heart of this trip.
I got goosebumps as I watched Madison, Hannah, and Jonathan hand out the blankets to the people. Madison and Hannah had worked for so long, overcoming many obstacles to raising funds needed for these precious people to receive what they needed to survive. When we arrived at each village, the people met us at their church building. They welcomed us culturally with open arms and kisses on the cheeks. They fed us their best food–potatoes, cheese, and cuy (guinea pig). They had very little to live in comfort, but they were incredibly content with what they had.
And what overwhelmed us the most was how thankful they were. When they prayed, there were shouts of joy and thanksgiving. When they sang, it was with a charm and a warmth that I coveted. And when they received their blankets (or, colches in Spanish), they were so excited!
Mike told me that this action enhanced his ministry to the people of Peru. Through his ministry, thousands have heard the gospel. Now they were able to show the gospel in deed, and not just word.
Fruit of Our Labor
I had the privilege of teaching evangelism in the seminary Mike had established. Since I’m a white North American, many others in the town of
Talevera came to listen. I taught 3 nights, and my team each shared their testimony of how they came to know Jesus as their Savior. I don’t know the exact number, but many trusted in Jesus during this time. Nothing makes my heart jump out of my body with happiness like it does when someone places his trust in Jesus!
After we got back to the States, Mike sent me a message. He said that one of the villages where we distributed blankets contacted him. They now want some of his seminary classes taught to their people. These people will now study and learn about how great our God is. They will learn life-changing theology from the Bible.
And to think that this all started a little over a year ago with two teenage girls who wanted to do something bigger than themselves. From raising money at car washes to an established seminary in Ataccara, Peru–only God can pull off things like this.
How Do We Say Thanks?
So many of you supported this trip with your prayers and finances. Your support brought blankets to cold children. You brought the gospel to sinners in need of a Savior. You brought encouragement to missionaries who are still there working day in and day out. You enabled my team and me to be impacted with something extraordinary–perspective.
There are some things that are not so important in our lives anymore.
And there are some things that are worth dying for.
Check out Believer’s Bridge to see how God is expanding His Kingdom through this ministry!