In November of 2013, in a little jungle barrio once overrun by terrorists and drug warlords, a middle-aged Peruvian woman named Judith took my face in her hands and made me look into her watery eyes. Then she spoke words that nailed my soul:
“Don’t forget about us.”
For the people of Aucayacu, Peru, being forgotten is a fear deeply rooted in real experience. As drug terrorists ravaged the region in the 80s and early 90s, kidnapping children from the fields as recruits and filling the nights with murderous gunfire, the townspeople felt hopelessly abandoned by the police, by the government – and by God.
Some 19 months later, in July of 2015, we returned … this time with a team of nine from Lighthouse. But this time, we didn’t return as visitors. The powerful bond of family washed over American suburbanites, Lima city-dwellers (from our partner church, Centre del Fuego), and longtime jungle-town inhabitants for nearly a week. “Relationship is currency here,” an Aucayacu neighborhood leader once told us … and a monstrous amount of that currency was generously, joyously invested on all sides. The presence and message of God arose at Aucayacu dining tables, in sports interactions in the street, in children’s games and programs, and in worship and prayer services that no one wanted to end.
And on the final evening, a 15-year-old Lighthouse team member stood before a whole Aucayacu neighborhood and spoke it boldly: “I never knew what the kingdom of God looked like until I came here.”
People of Aucayacu, you’re deeply in our hearts … and always, assuredly in God’s. We’ll be back again very soon … but He’s there already. 🙂