Pressing on with Bible Conferences

We teach an easy Bible study in our conferences that starts out with a reading, usually Mark 2:1-12.  That's the story where Jesus heals the paralytic whose friends lower him through the roof.  Then we ask "what do you like about the passage?" to start the people actually thinking about what they have read. 

My favorite Bible conference picture
Answers start out really general, such as "God's power" or "his friends' faith."  Sometimes we have to encourage people to come up with their own response and not something memorized, like "We should always pray and never faint." Only a few people will answer.

The next question is where it really begins to loosen up.  "What did you NOT like about the passage?"  What? Not like something out of the Bible? Finally someone volunteers, "I don't like that the people were there to see Jesus, but wouldn't let them pass with the paralyzed man."  And all of a sudden the ice breaks, and the people start having opinions and interacting with the passage.  By the end of the study, everyone is talking.

These conferences are the way we distribute the Bible.  We work together with the Bible League on this, and we agree that it is better to give people some training when they get a Bible, so it doesn't wind up just sitting on the shelf.

This is one of our favorite ministries, and we know that it is one of your favorites, too.  So many times, when we speak at a US church, someone comes and presses folded up money into our hands and says, "This is for Bibles."  

We know that the easy-to-read Bible that we distribute makes a difference, even for better-educated folks.  A college-educated lady that Tammy is discipling now told her how much she appreciates this version because it really helps.

Even though Bible Conferences are near and dear to our hearts, we need some prayer support in this area.  We need another full-time teacher to keep these up this year as we focus on recording seminary classes and getting churches involved in that program. Pray for God to provide that teacher.

Not Leaving Behind Small Church Resources

Here's how God has been affirming our ministry's work with small churches and church planters.

We provide teaching materials and help with church problems to the many small and weak churches that lurk down the back alleys and byways of the enormous metropolis of Lima.  We are here in Villa Maria del Triunfo, the other side of the infamous Wall of Shame. 

This area is extremely underserved by missionaries.  We were at one time planning to move because we had a hard time meeting with other missionaries and Peruvian teachers who wanted to work with us.  We always had to travel to somewhere “nice” to meet with them. But God just never seemed to be in that moving plan. Something always prevented it. Now we just figure that if someone can’t come here to meet with us, it probably won’t work out.

And by living here, we have a certain amount of street cred with these churches that need help. This help is mostly in the form of conferences and meetings with leaders to help them deal biblically with thorny issues like church discipline. By God’s grace churches of many different denominations are open to teaching from our team.


For example, here's the story of our relationship with Iglesia Bautista Palabra Fiel (Faithful Word Baptist), one of these churches, showing how this ministry relates to the seminary ministry:
We are also helping churches and church planting work in the Ancash province.  The church planting work is with Peruvian believers who are meeting in small groups.  These groups use a lot of Bible storying. This area on the other side of the majestic mountain Huascaran is an area of poverty and low literacy. This is also an area where the Peruvians on our team shine.  Coordinator Paco Laos has arranged donations of clothing and glasses from his local church in Lima, (see picture at left) and has used them to support evangelistic efforts.  Local Ancash missionary Jose Marco Dominguez also works in this area with the Bible storying groups. Both Paco and Jose Marco are supported by contributions to our ministry.  So, dear team members, you are making this work in a remote part of the Andes possible. On behalf of our team working there: THANKS!

Much prayer is needed for these ministries for 2020:

  • We need to make wise decisions as we go ahead with this ministry.  We need to be sure that we are helping Peruvian churches be strong and independent.  We need the wisdom to decide what will be a boost that will make them grow strong and avoid making them dependent.
  • Praise: Paco Laos, a key team member, does not have cancer according to his most recent tests.
  • Prayer: Paco does have a tumor and some other problems.  He has been going strong in spite of this--he's been nicknamed Rambo by some other team members.  Please pray that the doctors can make a good diagnosis and treatment plan for him. 
  • More Peruvians are interested in teaching in this area and we are working to get them active and doing it!
  • Pray for the future plans of Jose Marco as he plans his ministry in 2020.
  • Pray for transportation needs: money for the trips and safety for the teachers as they go to remote locations.
  • Pray for God's blessing and that we all glorify Him above all things.

Game on for the 2020 Vision year!


As a precursor to the online classes, we are posting Coffee Chats--short online talks about one doctrinal issue in answer to common questions.



Dear support team,



In the future, when we look back on 2020 we want to say, “Wow! Look what God did.  Look how He showed up in Peru.  And how we’ve all (that means you, too) been a part of it and grown in faith.”



Of course, the big thing will be the 2020 Vision plan: 20 bible institutes (or seminaries, as they are called here) in 20 locations throughout Peru in the year 2020.  That's the game plan: the same 2020 Vision that we’ve been telling you about since 2016.  God has developed it so that it's even better.



One thing God has shown us is dead seminaries all over Peru.  We went to one and had a meeting with its caretakers.  The building and grounds were beautiful.  Some church from the U.S. raised the funds and built it.  They sent teams to teach classes regularly, but they didn't understand the culture and they taught through translators.  We’ve talked to several graduates who weren’t able to answer questions about basic doctrines, even though they had passed classes on these things.  Currently, no classes are being taught there--the seminary is dead.  Although some of the caretaking group was interested in having us teach classes there, other members were seemingly suspicious that we were trying to take over their building.  No agreement was reached, and no classes are being taught, although the grounds are well taken care of. We've found this same attitude in many places



Another thing God has shown us:  those graduates who do go to seminary are often no longer interested in pastoral ministry.  Take the case of Jorge (not his real name).  He was sent by a local congregation to study in Lima, where there really is a very respectable seminary with a good academic reputation.  Jorge actually returned to his hometown, which is unusual.  Once students go to Lima they get used to life in the big city and don’t go back to the provinces.  However, Jorge found that he couldn’t really communicate with people in his local congregation anymore.  He also didn’t want to visit the sick and preach at funerals, etc. etc.  He just wanted to study and talk about academic subjects.  The church concluded that he was lazy, and he felt that the congregation was ignorant and uninterested in spiritual things.  In the end, he went to another place to teach in yet another academic seminary, and the church continues without a pastor.



So although our original plan was to establish 20 conventional small seminaries, God has shown us that we need to make these church-based seminaries.  Local churches will belong to our ministry network and receive course videos, downloadable class materials, and training for the local facilitator who will guide the class through the videos and the class materials. Both the videos and the printed materials will be in simple language. The pastor will usually be the facilitator, but if there's no pastor we will train a facilitator. This way there is no brain-drain, no disrespect for the existing pastor, and no suspicion of foreigners or city folks trying to take over the church. We are starting recording videos now and are planning to launch in March 2020.



Even as we are pushing to make this happen we want to get you more involved by regular progress reports.  Right now we are relying mostly on email and Facebook.  Please let us know if you would like to be updated in another medium, such as Messenger, Whatsapp, or snail mail.  Comment if you are reading on Blog or Facebook, or reply to the email if you read it in email.




If you’re reading this you’re already part of the team.  We want you to see that God is glorifying Himself here in Peru, and we want you to understand that you are really part of that.  We challenge you to get more involved this year.  Maybe pray more, maybe give more, maybe write to us.  You do you.  Understand that, humanly speaking, we wouldn’t be here doing this ministry if it weren’t for your prayers and gifts.  If you’re more involved, you’ll be encouraged by seeing how God answers prayer, and you’ll appreciate your own blessings more.  You'll have a bigger awareness of the part you are playing in what our glorious Lord is doing in the world.




So go team!

Let’s press on …

To make disciples…

To the uttermost parts of the earth.




Yours in Christ,




Mike and Tammy Riggs

November!


Well, back to the normal routine after a sabbatical month, especially for Mike.  I've been carrying on with counseling and discipleship, but the ladies gave me a break from teaching.  It's nice to just be a learner sometimes.

Mike has a headful of new ideas for the curriculum and we are ready to start plugging away on the seminary curriculum.  Praise God that the sabbatical month has been a time of refreshment and renewal.

Sunday we will be visiting a church with serious problems and no pastor.  One of the congregation is feeling the call to be a pastor, but this is a church that has shrunk radically in the past year or two, and even the few that are left don't seem to be working as a team.   We would appreciate your prayers that the teaching will help them to work together as a pastor and church.  This is a replanting situation and we'd like to get the new guy up to at least starting from ground level instead of trying to climb out of a hole.

In the meantime, Paco has gone to Ancash where he is giving out glasses and clothing and helping with the new believers that have joined the group there.  He is also training Jose Marco, the missionary who is regularly working there.   Jose Marco needs guidance.  Please pray for travel safety, the new believers and the Ancash group, and for Jose Marco. 

As always, please pray that this ministry would glorify God and encourage His people.

A recipe for you: Estofado de Pollo

Photo from Cocinando con Pasion. (there's a video there in Spanish of the preparation)
Sister Maria always said the true estofado de pollo has raisins and olives!  She was a comic-turned-cook that worked for us ten or twelve years ago (wow! Time flies!). She taught us all a lot about Peruvian food and many Peruvian jokes.
This recipe is authentic, yet easy to cook in the US. I have added a few substitutions that you can use. I've cooked it a lot of times there.


Brown chicken pieces (4, 6, 8) however many you like in oil.

Remove the chicken and saute a diced onion (preferably a red onion, to get that Peruvian flavor) in the same oil.

Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, a small can of tomato paste (or chopped natural tomato 2 cups) add salt to taste, 1 ½ cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup sliced ​​carrot, mix well,

Add the chicken, ½ cup of raisins and ¼ cup of black olives cut in half (without pit), 1 or 2 bay leaves and 2 or 3 chopped dried mushrooms (you can substitute ¼ cup  chopped canned mushrooms), add 3 or 4 potatoes cut in quarters, 

cover and cook until the chicken is tender and potatoes are done (test with a fork), stirring from time to time to avoid sticking and drying, if it is dry add a little chicken broth,

It should be left with juice but not liquid.

Serve it with white rice!

Peru holding steady

On October 1st, the President of Peru dissolved Congress.  Although this caused shock and widespread protests in Lima (mostly in favor of the dissolution and worried that Congress would hang on) for about 24 hours, since then things have gone on pretty much as normal.  Elections to replace the Congress are planned for January 26.

In the meantime, Chile and Ecuador have been plunged into violent rioting over economic issues. In spite of the enormous constitutional crisis that is going on here, Peru has remained peaceful.

Thank God for a peaceful transition, and pray for continued peaceful and constitutional resolution of this crisis.

Please pray for a pilot group

Not actually airline pilots like in the photo!

As we develop classes for internet use, we need a pilot group that we can work closely with.  You could call them guinea pigs, but here those are food!
Ideally this group would be in Lima, but would for schedule or distance reasons prefer internet to a live class. The group would also need to have a coordinator who will tell us what is working and what isn't, so that will need to be a thoughtful person with good communication skills who wants to help shape the program.  We have a few potential candidates, but one essential is that it be a group that has a real desire to study.  So far we haven't really found this. 

Pray that God brings us a good group.

Coffee chats


We posted our first “Coffee Chat,” short videos that help pastors and church members answer questions and challenges biblically.

More leaders

As more churches come on board for church-based seminaries, they take different forms. One church does their seminary as their Saturday night event, open to all. The group pictured here are leaders from two churches that meet on a week night to study.

Prayer Requests


  • Please continue to pray for Paco Laos's health. He is undergoing treatment right now, and still working hard in the ministry. Pray that he will be healed and will not need surgery.
  • Pray that the podcasts that we will be distributing will be of assistance to the listeners and that the listeners realize that they can trust the Bible.
  • Please pray for our continued health.
  • Pray for God's provision and guidance of our ministry.  This is something that is always necessary, but we especially need it right now.

Teamwork

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1uB5lonXKCDOL82gQIM2KaxK7M_S6PxYE
Working together to strengthen the church in Peru: scenes from eyeglass and evangelism campaign by Coordinator Paco Laos, Mike teaching at Seminario Luz y Verdad and Pastor Gustavo Requejo’s promotional art for Worldview class, Elk Ridge Baptist visiting team VBS outreach.

August Prayer Requests

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1TK3NzjqESzl3YOP-HMRLWw80XGUk4j5m
1. Paco Laos, our team coordinator and friend, is suffering from some health problems. Please pray for his return to health.
2. Please pray for three mini courses and 10 standalone classes that we hope to write and record in the next four months.
3. Please pray for safety and blessing for Mike’s upcoming Ancash trip.
4. Pray for schedule coordination.
5. Funds are low, as is usual over the (US) summer. Please pray for more funds as we head into the very busy spring (PERU) season. .

We’ve been teaching:

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1zoWrWDgsHsN1Z8MaxQnLt7DLil-FY2-d
Defensive Apologetics (Church Seminary Class)
What Women Need to Know About Jesus Christ (Women’s Bible Study)
Worldview (High School Class at Camp Pearl)
Worldview (Church Seminary Class)
Weaving the Gospel into a Bible Story (Teacher Training Class)
The Church and the Sexual Revolution (Mini-conference)