In the jungles of northeastern Peru, the town of Aucayacu found itself caught in the crossfire of the terrorism and drug wars of the 1980s and early 1990s. Over time the town became a notorious symbol of the lawlessness and corruption that befell much of Peru. Even when the terrorism and the violence began to decrease in the late 1990s, the town’s reputation persisted, causing legitimate commercial enterprises to stay away and deeply undermining the town’s fragile economy.
The children of those violent years are now the grown, emerging voices in helping Aucayacu rebuild its future. One of them is Abel (Jack) Bardales, who in 2011 married a young American named Gretchen Jones – a missionary to Peru and one of Lighthouse’s longtime favorite daughters (from her days at Westside Covenant, one of LCC’s merging churches in 2010). From their home in Lima, Jack and Gretchen make frequent missionary forays to Aucayacu (and even held their wedding ceremony there). They have helped Aucayacu become something of a sister ministry site to Lighthouse, allowing us to send gifts and mission teams to minister to our friends there.
Once having felt forgotten by the government, by the world, and by God, the people are encountering, and responding to, God’s faithfulness anew through the consistent efforts of Jack, Gretchen and many others.