As one of the great cities of the Americas, Lima, Peru, is home to nearly 10 million people, many of whom have grown up in a Catholic culture but more so enthralled by a materialism that grips many developing countries. Lima has seen a rapid growth in development and prosperity over the last few decades, but the rise of wealth has caused many to detach from their religious roots and grasp onto the false hope that money and influence promise. Instead, what we find in Lima today is a country torn between the lures of money and prosperity and the political turmoil of a socialist movement sympathetic to Hugo Chavez and his allies.
A False Hope
What this leads to is a city in tension between unmet expectations and the ever-looming threat of political retaliation against other Western powers and those who are prosperous. The realities of Lima are a common story in South America but the pain and heartache attached to the people caught in the middle of earthly and spiritual struggles should never become common to those of us who know where our ultimate hope and peace reside.
The Latin American LEAD Team for the IBC has declared that Lima is a prime location for an English-speaking church plant, and we believe that now, more than ever, God is preparing this great city of a harvest to bring those whom He loves into His family. The English-speaking population is large in Lima and growing every day. With an emphasis on learning English in the middle and upper class schools, a large number of wealthy Peruvians knowing English for work purposes, and a growing expatriate population because of the economic boom, Lima is primed and ready for an English-speaking church plant to come in and proclaim to the Gospel.
What our LEAD Team also learned is that an American church planter will have the added benefit of being seen as a “novelty” within the city, someone who Peruvians would be naturally drawn to because of their distinctiveness. This reality coupled with the spiritual openness of many Peruvians leads to an amazing opportunity to see an English-speaking church planted with great effectiveness within the city of Lima.
A New Hope
What we are looking for and praying toward is a church planter who will see his or her calling as one who is there to lead a team in planting a church that will reach out to expats and locals alike, seeking to bring the good news to a country that has put its hope in many things other than the goodness and graciousness of God. Someone who will be bold in their proclamation of the Gospel, keeping the primacy of Christ and His resurrection central to their message because many Peruvians are cynical to their Catholic roots and the false promises of the “health and wealth” movement.
Instead, what we need is someone who has a strong heart for the city of Lima, who will look for innovative ways to engage with both locals and foreigners, and who will seek ways to overcome the inherent challenges of planting in a city like Lima. High costs of living and doing ministry in the city along with the ever-present threat of political and economic instability lead to a situation where any church planter will need to be sure of their calling and rely upon the power and upholding of the Spirit.
Our heart breaks for the people of Lima as they seek for hope in ways that will ultimately be unfulfilling or let them down. Money, power and political influence may satisfy the worldly needs temporarily but what the people of Lima need is a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit to change both the lives of those living there and the circumstances surrounding them. And what we need is a church planter called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel in a mighty way to the English-speaking population in this city. The harvest is ripe but the workers are few. Who will respond to this great need?