Though I was born in New York, my parents are from Peru. I visited when I was young, but it had been 15 years since my last visit. I had no plans of returning anytime soon.
I didn’t anticipate that God would put a love and concern for others, especially abused children, in my husband’s and my heart.
One afternoon, my husband came home from work with a heavy and broken heart after listening to a Focus on the Family radio interview of yet another story of child abuse. We prayed together about those children, their families, the justice system, etc. Out of the burden in my husband’s heart, he prayed, “God is there anything else you want us to do? Do you want us to go on a mission trip?” My eyebrows rose when he said it, but I didn’t mention it.
Less than two hours later, I got a voice mail message from my friend Susan who lives in Florida. She told me that her church was going on a mission trip with Reimagine Peru , a Christian organization that helps the impoverished to build homes and sewing centers. “Okay, Lord,” I said, chuckling. I called Susan back to hear more and lo and behold, they were going to Peru!
Wow Lord, you have such a sense of humor!
A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Clearly, the Lord had something in mind for us. So there we were, months later in Santa Rosita, Peru--me, my husband, and our two boys, six and eight years old, on an adventure that God was leading.
The streets were of dirt and rock, so walking from job site to job site was challenging. We pushed through by forming lines up the “cerro” (large hill) to bring sand up to the job site. The physical effort required to accomplish the tasks of building were both challenging and rewarding. However, the best part of our trip was how God moved in our midst with healings, love, and encouragement for the people in the community.
Psalm 126:5 says that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
One day, after a group of us finished organizing donations, I stepped outside and spoke to one of the women from the village. She shared with me that she was in physical pain, so the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask her questions. He dropped in my spirit the word unforgiveness. So I asked her if she was holding something in her heart against anyone. The answer was a tearful, “Yes.” Wow! The Lord had told me how to help this woman so He could show her how much He loved and cared for her.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
I explained that if we hold on to unforgiveness, there is an open door allowing the enemy to work negatively in our lives. We prayed and she was able to release the offender. Others joined in prayer. Immediately, there was a visible difference in her countenance. The pain she was feeling was GONE. Praise the Lord!
Time and again, we prayed with others and found the primary reason for their physical pain was also un-forgiveness. We were thrilled to be able to teach and share principles of God’s Word so these dear people could be set free.
One of the men we met suffered from almost total deafness due to a beating he had received from police a few years earlier. In order for him to hear me, I had to speak very loudly, almost screaming, directly in his ear. This man remained in bondage for over two years, holding resentment and bitterness due to his circumstance. Through our conversations, I was able to share with him that once he forgave the officers and himself, he could leave his circumstance in the hands of the One who judges all, righteously, our Heavenly Father. After we led him through a prayer of forgiveness, signs of restored hearing were immediate. The next day, when we got off the bus, he greeted us praising the Lord that he was healed! I spoke to him face to face at an average volume and he heard me. Praise the Lord! This man’s tears turned into joy. God answered our prayers!
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:1 & 13)
In addition to seeing a lot of unforgiveness, we observed that many of the young women still acted like small children. They welcomed a smile, needed a gentle hug and verbal reminders that they were loved. Each of us in every corner of the world has a need to be known, acknowledged, and accepted. It was a privilege to be able to literally hold these young women in my arms and pray for them to feel the love of the Father in every hug and conversation.
He knows, is acquainted with, formed, and thinks highly of us.Only our loving Father truly sees us and knows our beginning, end, and everything in-between!
Our last day in Peru, we were able to bless the homes that were built and pray over the families who would live there. The kids in the community put on a performance for us to show their gratitude. When it was time to say goodbye, we boarded the bus. I put my hand out the window to wave and, quickly, there were at least four hands holding tight. My new friends did not want to let us go.
The whole team couldn’t contain the emotion we felt. Our youngest son, who was on my lap, began crying and said, “I’m going to miss my friends.” I shouted out the window between sobs, “Stay in school! We love you! I’ll miss you! Pray!” Finally, as the bus slowly moved, I had to let go of those precious hands. The kids ran after the bus for what seemed like a mile. The people in this community may be financially poor, but they are rich in love, joy, and kindness. We are so grateful to have met the folks at Reimagine Peru and those precious people of Santa Rosita.
We praise God for answered prayer, seen and unseen.
We praise Him for moving mightily in that community through miracles, signs, and wonders.
We praise Him for the opportunity to be a part of the team that was fruitful.
We praise Him for what He has in store for those we interacted with.
We are looking forward to returning someday soon, not only continue the work--both physically and spiritually--but also to see how God continues to move in the lives of the people of Santa Rosita with His love, grace, and mercy!
Diana Jones is a compassionate wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She is passionate about sharing God's love and all that He has done throughout her life. She is also looking for opportunities to grow spiritually through reading, prayer, singing and being in fellowship with others. As a contributor at Circles of Faith she is thankful for the opportunity share her stories.
You can follow her on Twitter at @dianajjones.
photo credit: David Crawford