Justin & Alison Thompson
Lima Team Newsletter
Baptisms at Casa Azul
I’m excited to report on Carlos’s work at Casa Azul. I wrote about our visit to Casa Azul with Carlos, Omar, and Mario Luque in the last newsletter. Since that visit, Carlos has continued to visit the young men at the community. On Sunday, August 26th, five of the men chose to put on Christ in baptism. It began with one of them, Omar Edu, making the decision, which eventually opened the door for others to hear the gospel. There are several beautiful layers to this story. First, of course, is the wonderful decision that these five young men made to follow Christ. They desire to leave behind their drug use, and this marks a significant step in their journey. Second, Carlos is seeing fruit. I have discipled Carlos for three years. Slowly he has seen how the Lord is using him at Casa Azul, and he is beginning to see himself as a pastor and evangelist. He is sent and genuinely cares for the men in the community. Third, this experience of baptizing Omar Edu, Terry, Gian Carlos, Jordan, and Julio gave me another opportunity to walk alongside Carlos. The men and Carlos initially asked me to baptize them. In their minds, since I was the missionary and pastor, I somehow had more authority. I encouraged Carlos, however, to think about his role in the process. I considered it a step in his growth as a believer and leader to baptize these men because he had done the lion’s share of the teaching. He spent hours praying for these men. In the end, we agreed to I would assist him, but that he would baptize them. In the time since the baptisms, I have heard Carlos talk about how the decision for him to baptize the men gave him confidence with his spiritual giftings. He felt empowered and continues to grow in his understanding of the gospel.
It has caused me to reflect on our role as missionaries, preparing Peruvians to lead Aliento de Vida. There are moments every day when it is easier to do the work ourselves. It is easier to make the decisions. It is easier to control the vision. Moments like these with Carlos give me hope for the future at Aliento de Vida. They make me excited about the possibilities for the reign of God to break out continually within and around us. They give me hope for our specific context when I read Philippians 1:4-6, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I ask you to pray for several things. First, pray for the men at the community, most specifically for Omar Edu, Terry, Gian Carlos, Jordan, and Julio as they begin to walk with Christ. They will be tested. Let us labor in prayer on their behalf as they set their eyes on Jesus. Second, pray for Carlos’s ministry at Casa Azul. God is transforming him. May he continue to do so. Third, pray for our leaders at Aliento de Vida. I realize this article was not specifically about other leaders at Aliento de Vida; however, Carlos’s example reveals an important step in our work as missionaries. Peruvians will soon lead Aliento de Vida. The evil one will cause them to stumble. My prayer resembles that of the Hebrew writer, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...and consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (11:2-3). Please labor with us in prayer for the men and women of Aliento de Vida to step into their identities as Christ-followers and fix their eyes on Jesus.
Youth Jungle Trip
Over the past year, we have been encouraging our church to think about going to visit our brother-in-Christ, Juan, in the “high jungle” of Peru. Juan, who is originally from the town of Santa Rosa, near the provincial capital of Tarapoto, has been living in his hometown for the vast majority of the past 3 years in order to share his faith with the people there. Our hope was that the Peruvian Christians would take the initiative to organize the trip. Thus, we were ecstatic when several of the youth started organizing a youth mission trip to help the ministry there. For months before the trip, the youth planned fundraisers and organized activities for our time in the jungle. When the day to leave finally arrived, six Peruvian youth, our two interns, and Mark headed to the airport. For several on the trip, it was the first time that they had been on an airplane. The six days that they spent in the jungle were filled with VBS-type activities for the kids, spending time with youth in the town, encouraging the church, and visiting some beautiful sites around Santa Rosa. The youth did an amazing job of sharing their faith, showing the love of Jesus, and encouraging Juan in his challenging work. Numerous people in Santa Rosa were impacted by the way in which the youth demonstrated their godly character in all that they did, from service projects to simple conversations. As a church, everyone is incredibly proud of the sacrificial service that they provided for the growing ministry in Santa Rosa. Now, all that we have to do is find an answer to the question that both the youth and the people of Santa Rosa are asking: “When are we going back?”
Additionally, and not at all a side note, four people in Santa Rosa gave their lives to Christ in baptism! It was a great testimony to the work the Lord is doing through Juan and Blanca in Santa Rosa. Their names are Bruno (father), Bruno (son), Mirsa, and Colber. What a joy it was to watch God turn their hearts toward him!
During our last furlough, Alison and I created magnets for our supporters. On the magnets, we included a prayer calendar. Better said, we provided a specific daily item for which we want you to pray. I'd like to share that list here. Some of you might have the magnet on your fridge or elsewhere in your home. We are thankful for the time you spend in prayer for us. It is integral to what we do. If this is new to you, we would love for you to join us on the journey!
Pray for maturity among the believers in Lima.
We want our Peruvian brothers and sisters to grow in their faith in Jesus! This is core and fundamental to our identity as a church body.
Pray for wisdom as missionaries to follow God's plan.
To flesh out this prayer request, we plan to have Peruvians leading every part of our Sunday gatherings by August 2019. Our plan as missionary families is to phase-out and move back to the States by early-2020 (Thompsons) and mid-2020 (Clancys). While we have these plans, we ask that you pray for wisdom as we transition with Peruvians to this next phase as a church body.
Pray for new Christian believers.
We recently moved our Sunday location to Los Vinedos, an area which is centrally located for our church body. Our leaders made this decision mostly out of a desire to reach more people and make us more accessible to many people we have known for years. We are prayerful that our light can shine so that others might come to know Christ.
Pray for leaders to step up.
Here leadership is not just those who will lead our Sunday gatherings, but others who might also lead as shepherds or ministry leaders. Additionally, Mark and I will be leading a group of our more mature believers through a series in walking through conflict. I'm excited about the things that we will learn and incorporate into daily and church life as a result of this study.
Pray for wisdom as a church to follow God's plan.
As leadership transitions to Peruvians, we ask that you pray on their behalf to be wise as they listen to and serve one another. I ask that you remember them always in your prayers, giving thanks for the transformation that God continues to bring about in their lives and offering petitions that God will continue to form in them a spirit of hope, peace, and love.
Pray for the church to become more Peruvian.
This prayer request has to do with transitioning leadership to our Peruvian brothers and sisters. We desire for Peruvians to take ownership of this church body because we, as missionaries, will move back to the States in a short amount of time. I am thrilled to say that they are making positive steps in this direction, and the church body has done an excellent job participating in practices that encourage them to listen to and pray for one another.
Pray for our missionary families: the Clancys and the Thompsons.
Our families inch closer and closer to moving back to the United States. I've had a couple of people describe this experience as a really tough transition. It's complex. We will leave behind a world that has become our own. We will enter a world that will be unfamiliar to us, especially to our kids. Pray for us as we move closer to this transition. We will need you and your prayers!