It feels so great to be able to travel again! A few weeks after visiting our programs in Kenya and Uganda, I was on the road again, this time in Peru.
As always, I had a packed schedule, balancing time encouraging and training staff with visiting our church partners and the children we serve.
Over the last few months we have done a lot of work to prepare for Childcare Worldwide’s next chapter of growth. That includes revamping our core Life Center program, a ministry where children meet weekly to study God’s word and grow in faith. “Life Center 2.0” is currently being piloted in Kenya and Uganda, and a major goal for my trip to Peru was preparing our Life Centers there for the big shift!
Even with just a few days, I was able to visit every single Life Center location, meeting with pastors and teachers to ensure alignment with the new vision. At every meeting, I reiterated our commitment to our work in Peru, and commitment to growing the program with the Lord’s provision. We desire a closer relationship with each church, and it was helpful to have face time with leaders to explain in detail what this partnership means: we serve with them in ministering to the sponsored kids, as they take advantage of the open door to the families, for evangelizing and shepherding. They all understand now, particularly the need to shepherd the trade school and college students, and encourage them to be part of the life of the church.
I also got to be present for a discipleship meeting with our trade school and college students. I was pleased to see how well organized it was, how hard our staff worked to pull it off, and even the fun extras they coordinated like recruiting a volunteer coach to come and do all the games and warm up activities. I enjoyed teaching on the subject of our identity in Christ, and was so pleased to see how the students engaged during the small group discussions, writing down conclusions and sharing with everyone afterwards.
As always, the best part of any trip is the time spent with the Childcare Worldwide family - children, staff, Life Center teachers, church partners, and parents.
This trip, one of the most touching experiences was meeting Life Center teacher Lucyana. This amazing woman has been teaching kids about Jesus’ love for many years. So many children - and their families! - have come to know Jesus through her witness that she has gained the respect and love of the whole neighborhood! Even though they live in the slums outside Lima, carving out precarious living spaces from the steep hills outside the city, this community gave her enough space to plant a church, and the small group of believers scraped and flattened the space to build a church of their own (currently a few poles, wood and plastic as walls, and metal sheets for the roof). Any time Lucyana has a little extra money, she uses it to buy bricks for the building - just a few at a time.
They do not yet have a pastor of their own, as nobody is willing to make the journey - over 100 steps up the steep hill from where the road ends. But Lucyana continues to share with the kids and their families about Jesus’ love, and the community continues to grow! Seeing her love for the Lord, the kids, and the community around her was amazing. It left me speechless.
I can’t wait until I can visit Peru again and keep sharing more about this important work that you, as sponsors and donors, are helping to make possible. Thank you!