August 3, 2019. That was the last time I stepped foot in Lima, Peru. It was also my first year leading Childcare Worldwide. If someone would have told me then that we would all experience a worldwide pandemic, I would have thought they were crazy. Of course, that’s exactly what happened, as you surely know. Just six months later, we would be faced with the early outbreak of COVID-19.
Peru experienced the pandemic in extraordinary ways. Their healthcare system was quickly overwhelmed. That left many people suffering from the disease on their own. Our own country director in Lima, Margot, lost her husband to COVID-19. A few Life Center teachers succumbed to the illness. Many of our sponsored kids had family members who passed away, or who are still suffering the effects of long COVID.
For now, most of the outward signs of the pandemic are gone. Schools are open and life is getting back to normal. The streets are filled with vehicles again. Although fear of the disease remains.
After three years, I was recently able to travel back to Lima to have in-person meetings with our staff, Life Center teachers, pastors, and our high school and trade school students. It was so good to be in the presence of these friends after such a long time. Although technology has really increased our ability to collaborate and get stuff done, nothing replaces being together physically.
Our staff is filled with committed Peruvians who love the Lord and His children. Their commitment to Him and the kids is evident in everything they do. Our week was spent talking about Life Center 2.0, the enhanced edition of our church partnership program. Life Center 2.0 includes new gospel-focused Bible lessons taught each week by our Life Center teachers. Sponsored kids and siblings worship and sing together. There is recreation time with games and outside activities. LC 2.0 also includes a more nutritious meal including all the important food groups. Looking forward to 2.0, our team talked about getting existing church partners ready for the change, and we were able to meet at a couple of potential new church locations. Everyone is excited to be more intentional about our ministry to children. God has given us a unique opportunity to expose the kids to His gospel message. It’s the most important thing we can deliver.
Life Center teachers are some of the most important people at CW. They are at the frontlines of this ministry each week. They see your sponsored kids the most and get to know them in personal ways. That relationship is very important to your sponsored children, and they look forward to connecting with their LC teachers at those church locations.
The pastors we work with in Lima are deeply committed to the Bible and its value in the lives of believers. They encourage the children to read the Word of God each day so they can know Him personally. Those pastors are familiar faces at Life Center each week. They are very involved in our partnership to tell kids the Good News.
While in Lima we had a meeting of the board of directors. Did you know that we have board members in Peru, Kenya, and Uganda? We take ministry governance seriously at CW. It's a key piece of ensuring that your donated gifts are used responsibly. Our board members in Peru have committed Christians who are voluntarily serving in this important role. It is a real privilege to be a part of this team.
I visited many of our sponsored children while in Lima. On your behalf, our team encouraged them to commit their lives to the Lord. We prayed with them and asked God to help them in their school studies. We remembered family members and LC teachers who are no longer with us due to the pandemic. We helped the kids remember that their lives are unique and purposeful. God’s plan for them is a perfect one, and we reminded them of how great His love is. Of course, we sang songs and worshiped together! I also made a special commitment to them. I told them that the next time I visit Peru, I will speak to them in Spanish, their native language. I’ve got my work cut out for me!
Despite the difficulties of COVID-19, our ministry in Peru is alive, and our team is ready to work even harder to transform the lives of the children in our program there. Please pray for them as they minister to the children and their families. Pray for our Life Center teachers and our pastors as they do the work God has put in front of them. He is worthy of our praise. He’s doing amazing things in Peru, and I am encouraged to walk by faith knowing that he is not only in charge of our work in Peru, but He leads this ministry in every country we have the opportunity to work in. To God be the glory!