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