Dear Friends and Family
I (Ben) turned 40 in August, and we just celebrated my lovely wife’s birthday on November 15. Time flies, as the saying goes, when you’re having fun. Although, "fun" doesn’t feel like the best way to describe what it feels like to careen over the top of the proverbial hill.
These past few months have been crazy busy. Here are a few specifics (for you prayin’ folks), including how God has been opening (and closing) doors.
Busy Winter in Peru
Upon returning to Peru in early Winter (Summer for the U.S.), we renewed our evangelistic efforts, continued helping train up a new generation of Peruvian missionaries, and joined the pastoral team at one of our local churches. It was a crazy busy three months, as Peru always seems to pull us in many directions. From the sandy streets of Lima’s coastal desert slums to the cold flanks of the snow-capped Andes, to the steaming hot Amazon rainforest, sincere spiritual needs abound.
Deysi and Abby started off on a mission boat far up the Amazon tributaries. Next, we took a family trip to the Andes to minister in a high-altitude (high security) prison, followed by an encouraging visit to a pastoral family on the backside of Peru’s highest peak, Huascaran. Later, my girls and I did a “two-for-one” trip, starting out near the shores of the world’s highest navigable lake (Titicaca, 12500 ft). We were just getting (sort of) used to the cold when it was time for the overnight bus journey that first goes up (briefly topping 16,000 ft), and then down, down, down into Peru’s southern jungles which are back at nearly sea level!
Ministry was sweet in all these places (and more), with the highlight being preaching Christ at an open-air evangelistic service in one of the busiest plazas of Puerto Maldonado!
Please continue to pray that God would raise up more laborers to reach all of Peru, and many strategic places around the world!
Amazing Autumn in Asia
The looming reality of our long-awaited (post-pandemic) return to Asia served as a sort of goal post at the end of summer, encouraging us to squeeze maximum ministry into a relatively short period of time (Jun-Aug, which is technically winter in the Southern Hemisphere).
We landed in Bangkok on September 9, rented a little car, and thus began a 2.5-month journey throughout Asia which we only completed two days before Thanksgiving.
The purpose of the trip was four-fold:
1) Encourage many missionaries with whom we have previously served, many who are trying to get settled in new and difficult fields of service.
2) Look for strategic opportunities for future workers from (especially) Latin America to come and serve as long-term, cross-cultural missionaries.
3) Minister the Word in as many places as the Lord would open the doors.
4) Attempt to visit China for the first time since 2019 and do #1-3 there as well! (See the next section for the China update.)
Space does not suffice to tell of all the amazing missionaries and churches we connected with in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Macau, India, and Vietnam.
Pray for those who are giving their lives to reach the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Atheists of Asia, and for even more laborers to rise and target each unreached place!
Open (and Closed) Doors in China
Ever since being deported from China (May 2018) I have been eyeing 2023 as the year to attempt to return. I was given a “Deportation Letter” by the police stating I was banned from China for 5 years, so there was some hope that I would be granted a visa and be able to visit.
Alas, China closed its doors for 3+ pandemic years, and the current communist regime has waxed more evil. Missionaries continue to be expelled, and only a few are returning to take their place. In that context, I have both good news and bad news. First, the bad news…
In the past three months I have attempted to get back into China in three different ways (for security reasons I won’t share them publicly), none of which have worked. And the authorities won’t tell me anything, neither confirming nor denying that my ban has been increased (ten years? indefinitely?). That’s the bad news. Not only can I not get in, but I don't know for how long. The only thing certain is my unwavering dedication to China's truly unreached.
Now, the good news. China is finally re-open for visitors, and that includes my own brave wife and children (who still have valid visas)! They were blessed to spend 22 days back home in China (late Oct, early Nov), connecting with old friends and accomplishing many strategic tasks.
Please visit PrayforChina.us and ask the Lord to open doors for the Gospel to flow freely in China!
The West Family
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