At a time of year when campgrounds in the U.S. are locked up and, in some places, deep in snow, volunteers from two very special camps packed their bags and traveled to another hemisphere to bring a message of grace and love to nearly 150 children in need.
This month Peru Mission welcomed Twin Lakes (a ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS) and Point Pleasant (a ministry of Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, GA) to the sunny desert of Trujillo, Peru. For four days the groups from the two summer camps teamed up with Peruvian volunteers from local churches to bring the light of the gospel to children who, in many cases, have grown up in homes broken by poverty and sin. The result was an experience none of the children (or counselors) will ever forget.
“I have always thought whenever these groups come from the U.S. to Peru that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed,” says Percy Padilla, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Church in Parque Industrial. “Each time that you do these projects you are growing the Kingdom of God. You are bringing light to children, to homes, to families.”
Esdras Vásquez, a Peruvian camp counselor and a deacon at Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Trujillo, spoke at the farewell party for the group about the lasting impact this camp will have on his community. “I know the importance of teaching children about God from a very young age,” he shared, “and I want everyone to know that you are sowing in good soil. [. . .] God says His Word never returns empty, and eventually these children will be people of God.”
The campers came from the four churches associated with Peru Mission in Trujillo, as well as from a local orphanage. They enjoyed an abundance of activities, including archery, face painting, “super fun” games, and crafts. At closing assembly each day, Frankie Daniell, Director of Camps and Missions Outreach at IPC Savannah, presented gospel truths to the children, focusing on man’s total dependence upon God’s grace and our need for the Savior. Daniell’s daily preaching provided a framework for the week’s ministry, and the actions of the counselors reinforced Daniell’s message of divine grace and love. “We can say many wonderful things about camp,” noted Zack Owens, Assistant Camp Director at Twin Lakes, “but it was in the small acts of love that I saw in [the counselors] that Christ worked so powerfully.”
The impact of camp, however, reached far beyond the children. Through working closely together, American and Peruvian counselors learned that their unity in Christ trumps all other loyalties (to a country, to a city, to a culture), and that not even language can be an insurmountable barrier to true communion between believers. “I would like to thank God for having sent us two marvelous groups to show their great love of Christ to many children, and also to us,” said Lucy Vargas, a Peruvian counselor. “We’ve learned much from them.” Matt Parrish, a volunteer from Point Pleasant, likewise pointed to how he was affected by the experience. “This was a unique opportunity for us,” he said, “[with] two different camp groups who had never met each other before working together. I just want to thank the other camp, Twin Lakes. [. . .] It was a big blessing to learn from them.”
While this year was the first time Point Pleasant has joined us, Twin Lakes has been partnering with our local churches to touch the hearts of children and their families in Peru through summer camp since 2008. We are so thankful for the ministry of both of these camps this year, and that God has allowed them to be a part of the Peru Mission family. Their ministry here is of incalculable value. While camp, like summer itself, is fleeting, the legacy these missionaries have left behind is eternal.
If you would like to learn more about the experience of Twin Lakes Peru, visit the Twin Lakes team blog or the ministry’s website. You can see photos from the camp here.
Fri, January 27, 2012
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