Early in the coronavirus pandemic, a 60-year-old doctor in the central Andes of Peru lost his job at a government hospital for treating COVID-19 patients with chlorine dioxide.
The chemical compound has been used to treat water and as a bleach, among other uses, but governments have discouraged its ingestion. The doctor, Rodrigo Alvarez*, continued treating people infected with the novel coronavirus from his private office, besides bringing alternative medicine to pandemic patients in rural areas and in prisons – which led to him contracting COVID-19.
As his condition worsened, Alvarez heard of some local missionaries who prayed for the sick. When he made contact with them and asked for prayer, the local workers enlisted entire congregations among his Quechua people to pray for him, a native ministry leader said.
The workers also had ample opportunity to share the gospel with the doctor.
“He accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior,” the leader said. “The Almighty heard the prayers of His saints and healed this doctor. Glory to God.”
For native ministries in Peru, the coronavirus pandemic has closed doors while opening hearts. It has shut down church services and restricted travel even as it has moved people to seek God, local missionaries said.
As workers have modified their methods, they have reached people who otherwise would not have heard them. In some areas, local missionaries mounted megaphones on the roofs of their closed church buildings to amplify the gospel proclaimed by cell phone from a gifted evangelist. The message reached a 55-year-old Quechua man and his 48-year-old wife who had previously shut their ears to it.
“Our missionary in that area had visited this couple previous to the pandemic, but they were reluctant to hear the gospel,” the ministry leader said. “This couple was having severe marriage problems, and they were scared due to the pandemic and loss of all their crops.”
As they heard the messages emanating from the worship hall rooftop, the Holy Spirit touched them, he said, and they put their faith in Christ.
“Our local missionary helped them with a prayer of faith to accept Jesus as personal Savior,” the leader said. “Now, we are in constant communication with them; they have many questions, and with patience we are teaching them more about the love of our good God.”
Native missionaries have died from COVID-19 trying to reach the lost for Christ around the world, including some in Peru.
Four months into the pandemic, a local missionary who had dedicated 30 years to bringing the message of eternal life to the poor quickly succumbed to the new coronavirus.
“The second week of June, Fortunato went to be with the Lord after a few days of COVID-19 illness,” the ministry leader said. “He was a great Quechua missionary always available for God’s work – prayerful, helpful, and concerned about others. He dedicated his life taking the holy gospel to the mountains of the Andes in times of terrorism and violence.”
With the virulence of the virus driving Quechua communities to close off roads and bridges for several months, the protective isolation brought a steep economic cost. Already impoverished communities were suddenly without basic food and health services, the leader said. Among other aid distributions, the ministry one month sent “love offerings” to 10 churches in different Andean villages thanks to support from Christian Aid Mission donors, and the fellowships in turn shared the resulting food purchases with others in their communities, he said.
One of the missionaries who received the aid oversees five congregations.
“Our potato crops had been affected by not selling them on time, and there was no transportation to take them to the city, so we were left without any economic income,” the local missionary said. “On behalf of my congregations and villages, I thank our brethren of Christian Aid Mission for the love offering, which has been shared with each of the Andean mothers of the five congregations.”
Local missionaries at the ministry’s feeding center have also modified methods to ensure that children do not go without nutrition during this time of critical need.
Rather than meeting in a large group for the hot lunches, each child comes with a plate to receive food and takes it home, the ministry leader said.
“Now more than ever, the meals we provide to these children are so important, since the parents have lost their jobs and meager income,” he said. “For the moment most still cannot find any job, and they have strong emotions of stress. As a ministry we call them, listen to their difficulties, share the Good News in Jesus and help them with prayer.”
Another ministry based in Peru has sent food bags and hygiene items to isolated communities devastated by the pandemic, including the ethnic Ashaninka. In one town, three local missionary families distributed food made possible by Christian Aid Mission donors. After the area quarantine was relaxed, they returned to bring Bible teaching to children and adults once a week, the ministry’s leader said.
“In addition, each missionary family contributed to buy more food to help other Ashaninka families who live near that village,” he said.
Local missionaries who distributed Bibles in another area said many people from various villages were infected with COVID-19.
“How much I wanted to have a Bible, and now I have it,” one villager told local missionaries. “As I was reading, I understood that Jesus came for me, and I accepted Him as my Savior. The Lord not only gave me earthly life because He restored my health from the deadly coronavirus illness, but, most important, He gave me eternal life.”
Such people are receiving spiritual and physical nourishment throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to equip local missionaries to bring them the love of Christ.
*Name changed for security reasons