Jesus' Heart in Peru
Isaac knew very little English and I knew very little Spanish, but between the few words we knew, our own sign language and many pictures, this is what he told me:
Isaac was a pastor for 150 churches in the mountains of Peru. How could he physically do it? Evidently these 150 churches formed 15 presbyteries made up of 10 or so churches located near each other. Three times a month, at different days of the week, these presbyteries would come together and Isaac would preach to them. He normally traveled around by motorcycle, but for the time being we would have to walk to the different church meetings because his motorcycle was not working. I found out from another source that he was walking all across the mountains with terribly arthritic knees.
Isaac smiled when he realized that I understood his ministry. I was astonished that one man would need to pastor so many churches. But from what I understood, there was no one else to do it. I could tell Isaac was weary. He had taken a small break to come to Lima to be with his son during gall bladder surgery. While he was in Lima, he served as a security guard for Scripture Union, where we were staying for our mission trip. But in the weariness, I detected no bitterness at all, only joy.
About this time, David Todd, one of the youth on our team, came and sat down to listen. Isaac continued to tell his story. Evidently a decade or so ago, many, many Christians were killed by terrorists in Peru because of their faith. During this time, terrorist broke into Isaac’s house. In front of his family, they beat him over the head with the butt of their rifles and knocked all his teeth out. (Isaac showed us his false teeth as he was telling the story.) He was bleeding all over and they tied his hands in preparation to murder him. Isaac then ordered them to leave in the name of Jesus. Then they knocked him out with the butt of the rifle. Amazingly, when he woke, he was alive and the terrorists were gone. He knew they had taken his family, but he found them safe. Jesus had miraculously saved them.
David and I were amazed at the story. What kind or persecution have we ever had in America compared to this? Isaac pulled out his Spanish Bible and showed me I Peter 3:14. In English the verse read, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.” This verse showed me Isaac’s heart. Isaac counted it a privilege to suffer for doing what is right for Jesus. He then made a hand signal to me of bullets whizzing by his head, which meant he had experienced that too. But, he pointed to the verse and smiled. As I looked at him, I saw an incredible joy radiating from his face and shining in his eyes.
A day or two later Shawn Turner and I were carrying two heavy sheets of dry wall from the basement to the fifth floor. It was heavy. Only a few of the youth were allowed to even try it. On the way up we passed Isaac and I said hello (hola). Only a couple of minutes after Shawn and I reached the top, I was amazed to see Isaac and his son carrying two sheets as well, bad knees and all. The construction of the fifth floor has eternal significance because when it is completed, more street boys will be able to live at Scripture Union. Seeing Isaac carry those sheets gave me another view into his heart. For Isaac, the Kingdom of God is the most important thing. Nothing, including his own suffering, will get in the way of his pursuit.
As I think back on my encounter with Isaac, I see how God allowed me to see an example of Jesus’ heart in a man’s life. I have often thought that my life was filled with trials and difficulties, but compared to what Isaac had been through, I feel ashamed to bring them up. Like Isaac, I want to learn to choose joy over stress, worry and fear at whatever circumstances come my way.