Dear Friends and Family,
We hope this update finds you well, both physically and spiritually. Please know that we pray for you regularly! May the Lord, by His undeserved grace, restore safety (and sanity) to our communities, and also open the doors to all nations once again so that the gospel might continue to be proclaimed freely among all the remaining unreached peoples of the world!
When the “virus crisis” exploded back in March, it didn’t seem possible that it would stretch on into the latter half of the year. Official church gatherings (here in Peru, at least) are still postponed indefinitely, and the dates for numerous ministry trips that we had planned for the summer (Peruvian Winter) have already come and gone. Also, there is no clarity (yet) on how long travel will be restricted to some of our target areas for ministry, including the prison and villages in the high Andes. Even if official restrictions are lifted soon, many remote areas that have mostly remained free from the virus might not want to receive outsiders for quite some time. The prison will also probably stay quarantined until 2021.
With the “bad news” out of the way, I am excited to say that God HAS opened doors during this season (and provided funds) for a number of unique outreaches here in the capital of Lima. Below are some praises and prayer requests related to our recent ministry activities in “lockdown.”
For the first two-plus months of “lockdown” here in Peru, it was forbidden to drive anywhere, so we had to walk everywhere. With the nearest supermarket about a mile away, I got into a habit of taking different routes through the dense neighborhoods, leaving gospel tracts on as many doors as possible, usually hundreds per outing. It’s a good problem to have, but after dozens of similar outings, my stash of thousands of tracts has now dwindled to just a few hundred. Pray that these thousands of seeds would bear much fruit!
Just days after most businesses in Peru were forced to close, we started noticing homeless people wandering the streets and digging through the trash at night. Some had been evicted when landlords realized they would have no way to earn money. We have been able to help the homeless in a variety of ways, including handing out food and water, money for food (sometimes), along with New Testaments or little Gospels of John.
We even had a guest (Michel, a Cuban refugee) stay with us for a week or two until we could help him find a room to rent and get back on his feet. He is now working again, watching parked cars for tips (a common job here in Peru) outside a large grocery store, as well as at a Little Caesar’s. He has also become a good friend. Pray for his salvation!
Please also pray for a young (late 20s) drug addict named Arturo who we have been trying to help since back in early June. He is still on the streets, but we are going to try and convince him to go to a rehabilitation center where I often volunteer, counseling and teaching the Bible. If you feel led to help cover Arturo's fees at rehab, please let us know.
Saturday Street Evangelism
In late May, the laws on driving were loosened. As I began driving around our district (San Miguel: four square miles, 150k people) once again, I noticed the informal workers returning to the busy intersections, where they would wash windows for tips, sell candy, or simply beg. So while most Peruvians (those who could afford it) were still hiding at home, these desperate folks were out trying to scrape together some money to survive.
Up until the end of June, Sunday was still on TOTAL lockdown (military-enforced curfew), and everything was closed, making getting food on Saturday all that much more important! Imagine being forbidden to leave your front door on Sunday (not all bad), all while not having any food at home, or any way to procure some.
So I began going out to the highways and byways each Saturday to give out “Blessing Packs,” which included a Gospel of John, a tract, local church info, and enough money to prepare a decent meal on Sunday. I can’t count how many truly grateful people I met each Saturday in June. By God’s grace, we were able to provide both physical and spiritual food for these folks at a time when their needs were most acute.
As I made my rounds week after week, seeing many of the same smiling faces over and over again, I was able to encourage them to read the Word of God, to “seek Jesús, the Bread of Life, which is infinitely more important than the loaf of bread you can buy down the street.”
Food (and Bibles) for the Hungry
With God’s help, we have also been able to distribute literally TONS of food (rice, noodles, oats, tuna, sugar, milk, oil, etc.) to help feed hundreds of needy families here in Peru, as well as among the suffering (hungry) believers in socialist Venezuela (with special help from our friends and teammates Deivy and Karen, Venezuelan missionaries to Peru).
There have also been many opportunities to give away Bibles, and even preach, during these times of distribution! As we continue receiving requests for help, pray that God would continue to provide for all those who are still suffering due to the economic effects of the lockdowns.
Elderly Home in Rural Romania
Last September (when the world was young!) we spent a weekend in Bucharest, on our way home from meetings in Bulgaria. We had a wonderful host family and translator (thank you, Teo!), and I preached a couple of times.
When virtually the entire world went into lockdown back in March, we received word that the elderly home our friends help to oversee was in great need. We were able to raise some emergency funds among friends and family, and even donated much of our own “stimulus” check, and the most dire needs have already been provided for.
However, there are still ongoing needs for basic supplies like clean bedding for new arrivals, fuel for the winter, etc. Please contact me if you’d like to help care for these (nearly 100) elderly folks, most who have already survived decades of Communist rule in Romania through the last century.
We were able to raise some emergency funds among friends and family and even donated much of our own “stimulus” check, and the direst needs have already been provided for. However, there are still ongoing needs for basic supplies like clean bedding for new arrivals, fuel for the winter, etc. Please contact me if you’d like to help care for these (nearly 100) elderly folks, most who have already survived decades of Communist rule in Romania through the last century.
Ongoing restrictions make it difficult to know how soon we can get back to the mountain of evangelism and missionary training that had been our priority coming into the year. Pray that the doors will open enough so that we can take a couple of ministry trips to the Andes by the end of 2020.
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The West Family