A missions trip for a team of Hispanic women from Arkansas proved to be a transformational experience.
Six women from Iglesia Bautista Nueve Jerusalén in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Arkansas Hispanic Woman’s Missionary Union traveled to Peru to aid in the ministry of Iglesia Bautista Gracia y Verdad alongside International Mission Board missionary Amy Fisher.
Diana Rodriguez, president of Arkansas Hispanic WMU, led the trip. She was accompanied by her daughter, Natalie (14); sisters Janeth Pacheco (19) and Cesy Benegas (17); Elizabeth Lozano; Consuelo Rosales; and Sarai Martinez.
The team spent time in Michel’s home. Michel was a seeker, and her mother, Celia, was experiencing health problems.
They shared God’s word with the mother and daughter and encouraged Celia. As they shared the Bible with the two women, the three teenagers pulled out their violin and guitar and shared songs.
Diana said the teens were most impacted by these experiences of worship. As they led songs they’d sung numerous times, the lyrics took on new meaning.
Janeth Pacheco told Rodriguez that this was “a learning moment for her.”
“We have sung this song so many times,” Pacheco told Rodriguez after singing a song with the theme, “God, use me.”
As they sang to a Peruvian lady suffering from an illness and in desperate need of hope, “the words that [we] were singing, they were really making sense. They were becoming real.
“We were serving. Not just me, but my music was being used at that moment to bring comfort to these people,” Pacheco continued.
“I realized that the message of the music could really impact [others], and God was using me at that moment.”
Rodriguez was most impacted by the way the people joyfully worshipped without the modern conveniences enjoyed in many Arkansas worship services.
“From the very first moment … you could tell the difference — the culture and the country,” she said.
Rodriguez noted the nationals were, “so willing to worship wherever,” whether it was a park, a home or a shared building.
Coming to Christ
But the most lasting impact from the trip was the eternities that were changed as professions of faith were made among the Peruvians.
Tatiana became a believer after the women shared the gospel with her.
She showed up for each service the team held and stayed after, asking questions, hungry to learn more about her newfound faith. The team spent intentional time discipling her.
Throughout their time in the country, they saw over 10 women and youth come to Christ. They followed up with home visits and Bible study while the teenagers from the church conducted spontaneous worship in homes. Starting the discipleship process was a key component.
The team also spent time in the community holding worship services, making balloon animals to engage children and inviting people to go to church.
Another special time for them was investing in the youth of the area by making authentic Mexican food, getting to know their stories and sharing the gospel with them.
IMB missionary Amy Fisher was thankful for this team that came alongside her Peruvian church.
“This is the first time I’ve had a Hispanic church come,” she said. “It was very different, not having to work through translators.”
Fisher said it was also helpful for the teens to come and interact with the youth she works with.
In addition, having an all-women team lent itself to a focus on the women Fisher’s church works with. Rosales’ testimony resonated with the women she spoke to, as she shared her story of domestic violence.
Many of the listeners found themselves in similar situations or knew someone with similar experiences.
The flexibility of the team and their willingness to fill in anywhere they were needed was a definite blessing, Fisher said.
She encourages any church seeking short-term missions opportunities to be like this team — flexible and willing to serve wherever.
For short term mission opportunities through the IMB, visit imb.org/trips.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Myriah Snyder and originally published by the International Mission Board.