Justin & Alison Thompson
Lima Team Newsletter
Peruvian Missionary Summit
At the end of March, we got together with mission teams from Cusco, Arequipa, and Huancayo for our Peruvian Missionary Summit. The Cusco team hosted this year. This year, like last, Gary and Fran Green joined us and showered us with rich wisdom and great conversation. It was beautiful to watch our kids (twenty in all) play with each other and form memories with other kids like them, and it’s just flat out fun spending time with other missionaries on the journey to the same country to which God has called you. I left tired (mostly a product of being on vacation with small kids), but encouraged (because of seeing the Spirit’s movement in the lives of my Peruvian missionary friends). I am thankful to share so much in common with these brothers and sisters and to walk away from such a group focused on walking in step with the Spirit on this journey of sharing the peace of Christ with others.
We celebrated Easter Sunday with a baptism. Omar chose to give his life entirely to Christ! He is one of four young men who started meeting with us more than a year ago, and over several months has been studying with Mark and me. Omar, almost every time we explored the Word, would mention the presence of evil in the world. He felt and still feels the literal darkness of the neighborhood in which he lives. He sees many things in the world that ooze evil, and in the midst of all this, he found Jesus! I pray that you join me in giving continual thanks to God for the transformation that he is doing in the lives of our Peruvian brothers and sisters. I ask that you pray for Omar as he grows in faith. He is helping us by coordinating our worship times at church, and today is flying with Mark to the jungle to visit one of our Peruvian missionary brothers. I know that Mark and Omar will have many wonderful conversations, and I’m prayerful that God will continue to open up his heart to being a light in this world!
Bible Time Share
As a missionary, I’ve always had a desire to try and bridge a gap that I sense between two partnering churches in the gospel. The gap I feel has less to do with the regular communication that takes place between a missionary and that missionary’s supporting church(es), and more to do with how we can embrace the relational partnership that we share in the gospel. In most missionary/church sender relationships, there are the regular newsletters, updates, progress reports, and maybe a semi-frequent check-in. Most of this describes a transactional type of relationship, which is necessary to shape good hopes and expectations for the work. The work is vital for both parties. However, I’m also interested in developing another aspect, what I call the relational aspect. How might our partnership in the gospel spur both congregations (the supporting or sending church and the planted or receiving church) to be more missionary in their own contexts?
For two months this year, I led a group of ten individuals (four people from the Littleton Church of Christ, four people from our congregation in Lima, along with Mark and me translating and facilitating the experience) in a bilingual practice of dwelling in the Word. We spent time turning our hearts toward the Lord, listening to and dwelling in the Word, and then inviting each other to share what God spoke to us in those moments. The experience was centered around listening - to God and each other. Over the course of ten weeks, we met five times, each time listening to Luke 10:1-12 when Jesus sent out the seventy-two.
Hands down, in my nine years in Lima, this experience was one of the richest forms of partnership I have experienced between my supporters and my Peruvian brothers and sisters. My worlds collided - my American people and my Peruvian people - in ways that I couldn’t perceive beforehand. In listening to the very missionary passage of Luke 10, we saw how similar we are in our struggles to take Christ’s message of peace to others. We listened to each other talk about moments when we have felt like sheep among wolves. We were able to genuinely feel each other’s struggles and celebrate the victories, even be inspired by the Spirit’s movements in the lives of the others. Indeed there are differences between the two groups; however, God showed me how the body of Christ functions when we center ourselves around his Word and postures of listening to one another. It was an enjoyable experience as a missionary to watch people who you have discipled for years positively engage the Word and others. It sustains hope that God is doing great things in their lives and gives a glimpse of what lies ahead. May God bless us richly as we move in rhythm with him.