The new president is set to take office on July 28, Peru’s Independence Day. High levels of corruption and fraud have been discovered in the vote count as well as with the authorities overseeing the election. According to vote count, Leftist Pedro Castillo won the presidency by some 44,000 votes, but his opponent, conservative Keiko Fujimori has challenged his victory. Ms. Fujimori is seeking to toss out up to 200,000 votes, mainly from rural and indigenous regions where Mr. Castillo overwhelmingly won. Hundreds of retired military officers have sent a letter to top military chiefs urging them to not recognize “an illegitimate president.” A former Supreme Court justice filed a lawsuit requesting that the entire election be annulled. The country’s best-known public intellectual, the Nobel Prize-winning author and former presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa, has said he supports Ms. Fujimori’s efforts because a win by Mr. Castillo would be a “catastrophe.” “That is evident to the immense majority of Peruvians,” he told a local television channel, “especially Peruvians from cities and Peruvians who are better informed.”
Peru has had by far the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 per capita in the world. Although the number of new cases in Peru are down significantly, averaging 2,268/week, at 5,804 deaths/million (compared to US 1,870/million), Peru’s death rate per million remains the highest in the world. This high rate is due to the lack of medicine, oxygen, ICU beds, and the predominance of cramped, multigenerational housing. Approximately 11.7% of the population have received their second vaccine dose. This is close to the world average of 11.9%. The vaccine is currently available to people age 45+.
Both Comas and Rimac churches are finally meeting in person (limited by law to 30% capacity). Hallelujah! Sadly, both churches have experienced the death of several of their members due to Covid, and many more are still sick.
Students are still learning remotely. The current goal is to return to classroom settings by 2022. This continued isolation and stress is significantly impacting the children as well as their parents.
Peru reported the region’s largest contraction in GDP and the worst recession in 30 years. Ten percent of Peruvians have been kicked out of the middle class, and the percentage of Peruvians living in poverty has increased 50%. Most Peruvians who are out of work, do not have savings. Very few Peruvians own their own car, and capacity on public transportation is greatly reduced limiting job opportunities. Fellowship Global Christmas funds have helped to cover some of the monthly expenses of these churches. Fellowship members have also contributed to the provision of food for over 100 families in the Comas community every week.
Praises from Comas
The Savings and Credit Association ministry that Fellowship and Hope International helped the church in Comas launch in 2011 has blossomed into one of the church’s largest and most vibrant ministries. It’s especially effective in reaching “not yet” believers with the gospel and journeying with them in their transformational relationship with Jesus. Two inspirational messages come this month from this ministry: Pastor Angel’s extraordinary message to leaders of Hope International that was originally recorded for the 2021 Leadership Summit and this testimony from Lisset Rojas, a leader within the Savings and Credit Association in Comas.
Lisset Rojas has been a program leader for the Savings and credit Association since 2019. Rather than cease meeting during Covid, Lisset says, “I felt a conviction that we needed to continue meeting during the pandemic, virtually with the groups who had members with internet and in person in groups with members who didn’t. The live groups met on the street, a school patio, stairs, or in a field. God had purpose in our suffering. He used our uncertainty and fear to draw us to Him more profoundly in many ways. He strengthened the relationship within our groups and leadership. We all became family. We have lost much of our fear and understand that it was a blessing to have this experience. God took us by the hand and made us stronger. One hundred percent of our savings groups have money in the bank. Many new groups have formed. We are all learning new things.”
When asked what has impressed her the most during this time, Lisset replied, “Margarita Moreno. She was a saver in an old group, but no one knew where she lived except that she lived alone outside of Comas and that it was hard to get to. During the pandemic, she started to share her needs. Her savings group began giving her food and other necessities and basically adopted her. Then she wanted to open a group in her neighborhood, explaining that “I want my neighbors to have a family like I have. I know Jesus is in our savings group, and I want him in my neighborhood.”
Savings Group leaders gave an informative talk to Margarita’s neighbors and a new group of seven members was formed, with Margarita as its president! Lisset shares that “Margarita has grown. She is totally surrendered to God. God is using her in her neighborhood. We’ve worked with her and now there are 20 people in her group. They are a united, organized group with many ideas to help their community – they want to build a road and make other improvements. I’ve never seen God’s love manifested in such a way as with the grace He has poured out in this community. My thoughts were just a grain of sand. He is sovereign over all that we are in every area – not just spiritual but material as well. I thought He just showed His love on way, but it’s so different, so particular to each person.”
Testimony from Pastor Luis
On May 23, after 14 months of a lack of personal contact, our church body began experiencing the great blessing of meeting again in person, even though we are legally bound to not exceed 30% capacity of our sanctuary. During these past 14 months, we experienced the Lord’s faithfulness, so now we are filled with emotion and excitement in joining in person to praise, worship and serve together in our remodeled sanctuary.
We feel deep sorrow in the absence of several brothers who died of Covid during this season and are now in the presence of the Lord. At the same time, we feel joy and anticipation for when we will be reunited in heaven.
In our first “in person” service, we reunited with brothers and friends we’ve known for a long time, as well as others whom we saw personally for the first time! These were brothers and sisters who were conquered by the love of God and came to know Him as their Lord and Savior during the pandemic. They had been discipled and trained in the word of God virtually through our CADES groups, and, in our first corporate gathering as a church body, we celebrated them in their baptism ceremony.
In addition to a deepening appreciation, understanding and experience of God’s faithfulness, another extraordinary lesson that we have learned is that the Holy Spirit is never limited in any way that keeps him from continuing the work of saving lives. Although circumstances may be very different, the power and efficacy of Christ's work is never paralyzed. What at first was an uncertainty as to how God would work during the pandemic, today we have evidence that God’s power and love was not cut off by the pandemic - we see His mighty work in the lives of new brothers and sisters in Christ. Today we know that the circumstances brought on by the pandemic are also serving to teach us new things, such as managing the media through social networks, evangelizing through prayer, teaching Bible school courses through virtual platforms, and discipling from a distance.
We thank God for our CADES leadership (similar to FBC’s Fellowship groups). They are very committed to the Lord and are God's instruments carrying out His work in the midst of these different times.
The Rimac body celebrated additional baptisms on May 30th with some of the participants (who had only worshiped and participated in classes virtually) before then coming from far away. What a beautiful way to meet their new family in Christ!
Another important gift of grace for the Rimac church was the remodeling of the sanctuary, a gift from Fellowship’s Global Christmas offering. You can imagine our brothers and sisters delight when they came to the church after such a long time and saw that it was more beautiful than ever! Thanks to you, our Fellowship family, we are all very happy and grateful, because you are the instruments God used to make our church’s great dream a reality – Glory to God!
Prayer Requests for Both Churches
- Both churches are hosting prayer vigils for the results of the presidential election and invite us to join them.
- Work for members in the body.
- For God to help them so the virus doesn’t affect so many people in Peru, for the people to respect the laws and obey them, to develop the discipline to take precautions to keep from getting it.
- Healing for those with Covid and comfort for the family members of those who have died.
- For the pastors to be able to accomplish their pastoral work and passion. They need to visit the sick and help them yet at the same time, not get sick themselves.
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