Bolivia/Peru Trip Report
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the Wonderful Name that is above every name, the precious Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have just returned from a two-week trip to Santa Cruz, Bolivia and Lima, Peru.
BOLIVIA. The first week I joined with a medical missions team of 28, many of which were out of my home church, Maranatha Chapel. We set up a medical clinic near Santa Cruz, Bolivia with the team seeing over 1100 patients there in four days and I also visited one prison. The medical team had brought with them a team of doctors and nurses as well as medicine that was given to people without charge. My role was to lead the Spiritual Clinic where I presented the Gospel and prayed with each patient after the doctors had seen them and before they were given their prescriptions. This was an evangelized area but each non-Christian heard the Gospel and 95% of them (199 men, women and children) prayed to receive Jesus as their Savior. It was a privilege to see the transformations that took place with tears, repentance and joy with person after person who heard the message of hope, many for the first time.
On Sunday night, we spoke at a church near the worksite and I sensed “life” as soon as I walked through the doors. With wonderful anticipation, the Power of the Holy Spirit filled the church and a powerful message of submission to God went forth. The church was filled with the team from the U.S., Bolivians and Guarani Indians. At the altar call, almost all of the Bolivians and Guarani responded with weeping and crying out to God. There was a demonic manifestation in one of the Guarani women who had come to the altar. Pastor Jessie Nuñez and I prayed with her for deliverance.
In addition, I was able to enter the Palmasola prison with a team of 5 Bolivian men who worked with me at the Spiritual Clinic. As I walked the dusty road from the front gate to the men’s section of the prison, I found myself becoming very discouraged. It was hot, the rest of the team was enjoying their free day and I was very tired from the work of the week. I found myself thinking, “The rest of the team thinks I’m crazy for going into these prisons on our off day and maybe I am. I don’t want to go in here. I’ll just give a ten-minute presentation and be on my way and I won’t put my heart into it.” Then, when I was about a hundred yards away, I saw one of the many inmates standing at the gate begin to jump up and down when he saw us coming. Then I heard, “Brother, remember me! Soto Prison in Madrid!”
This inmate had been in that prison in Spain when we ministered there May of 2002. He was so excited and encouraged that God had sent me to Palmasola to minister to him that he couldn’t stop jumping up and down. I gave him a Bible but also told him I didn’t want to see him in any another prison somewhere else in the world. Of course, this was also God’s way of uplifting me and we had a tremendous service with 36 men attending and 24 praying to receive Christ. I preached my heart out. At the end of the service, I arranged for my little team of 5 to be able to return with the local pastor for a three-day revival service in the prison and possible weekly ministry there as well.
PERU. In Lima, Peru, I joined with 2 other men from the U.S. composed of Cook County Jail volunteers John Janks and Constantin Lupancu. Both of them preached in all four of the prisons we visited. We also worked with Peruvian members of a prison ministry group named: “Jesus Christ Breaks the Chains” and we also conducted two days of the Prison Training Seminar with almost 100 in attendance. Additionally, we participated in a three-day Regional Congress conducted by Remar (a teen challenge type of ministry headquartered and founded in Spain by Spaniards). The countries represented were: Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela. I was invited to preach all three days including the Saturday meeting at the National Stadium (soccer stadium) with an official attendance of 7,000.
Monday. We traveled 2½ hours to Aucallama prison (650 male inmates) in Hudral, near the ocean. First, we ministered to about 25 inmates who were in “the hole” and many prayed for a changed life. Then, we ministered to about 125 in the exercise yard for about 3 hours. About 30 responded to the altar call. We had permission to take photos and even made a videotape of the service.
Tuesday. This day, we visited Lurigancho prison (7,700 male inmates) in Lima. Again, we started in “the hole” with about 150 inmates there. There were a series of 15 cells side by side each measuring about 10’x10′ with 10 inmates in each cell. Two beds per cell and no bathroom. We used a bullhorn and I presented the plan of salvation to them all simultaneously. Many hands were extended through the bars at the end in response to the Hope of Salvation and Redemption. Then, we went to the “drug unit” which consisted of about 150 men in one room large enough to have the floor covered with the mattresses they slept on. These were not recovering drug addicts. They were active addicts many under the influence of the drugs during our visit. Drugs are constantly brought into the prison. It was difficult to spiritually penetrate the cloud of drugs but God did get through, we believe, to about a dozen who prayed and testified of their belief that their lives were now different since they heard and believed the message given.
Wednesday. Our journey today took us to the Santa Monica prison (700 female inmates) in Chorrillos. We spoke in the visiting area so that many inmates and visitors were able to hear the Gospel presentation. Some there are members of the terrorist organization The Shining Path. Also, there were inmates from Holland, Canada and South Africa so they were glad to hear the messages from Constantin and John in English. Many were weeping and open to the life-changing message of Christ. That evening, we had the first of a two-part seminar on Prison Ministry with almost 100 in attendance. This was one of the most receptive and enthusiastic groups to attend a Chaplains for Christ training seminar.
Thursday. Today, we traveled to Sarita Colonia prison (2000 male inmates) in Callao. We were told before we left for the prison that we would all be denied access but maybe we could talk with the director of the prison when we arrived. Then, a miracle: although our Peruvian volunteers were not allowed into the prison, John, Constantin and I went in with 100 full Bibles and 150 Gospels of John. The inmates in Maximum Security (mostly foreigners) had prepared their exercise yard with chairs, invited inmates from other pavilions, baked a cake on our behalf and prepared a program for us. They had been waiting since 8 AM and we were not allowed in until 1 PM.
During the initial visitor search, the guards took our passports but forgot to ask us for our other forms of identification so I carried in my Cook County Sheriff’s badge and I.D., which I had to leave at the gate of the other prisons. Each prison in each country has different entry requirements. Finally, we stood before the director’s office waiting for an audience. When he finally opened the door and saw us, he quickly tried to close the door in our faces saying he did not have time to talk with us. Before he could close the door, I flashed my gold star. Suddenly, he opened the door, had us sit down and was quite cordial. What door God opens, no man can close.
The director carefully looked at my credentials and said “Captain” (actually, it says Chaplain) and I explained where I worked and in what other countries I had entered the prisons. We asked for permission to go the Maximum-security area, bring all of the Bibles and Gospels of John, one of which we had with us and he asked if he could keep. We also gave him a Bible. He then gave us permission to do all that we asked to do for as long as we wanted, but had his assistant take our credentials to the front gate and ask the guards why we had been allowed to enter with our credentials. No group had had been permitted to visit that area for at least the last 17 months.
We had the service in that area with inmates from Peru, Holland, Germany, Portugal, England, West Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Romania. Since most of the inmates spoke better English than Spanish, I preached in English even though I had preached in Spanish in the other prisons. Have you ever seen stoic Hollanders or Germans crying in repentance? We did that day.
Many of them told us that they were truly changed and would never be the same again. A fight broke out between two inmates at the back behind the service but it was quickly quelled. We ate our cake cut by the inmates with a large butcher knife (this is common in Latin countries) and the inmate pastor refused to accept money we offered him for the cake and sodas he had purchase as a blessing for us. He even refused to receive money we offered to send him via the U.S. Embassy. He did agree to accept our offer to buy a guitar, strings, tambourines and 20 full Bibles in English for their church inside the prison. Unbelievable. I have never had an inmate refuse to accept money offered to him. Such wisdom and dedication to the Master.
That night, we had the second session of the training seminar and a dozen people responded at the invitation for prayer for them to enter full-time ministry as chaplains in the prisons. Before we came, there were no prison chaplains in Peru. We are hoping that some of these will fulfill that calling.
Friday. This was the beginning of the Remar Congress. Already, I had been interviewed on the radio and spoken at a church, which was televised and recorded for pastors all over Peru. This morning, I was privileged to be the initial speaker and was given an hour to preach to 500 in attendance. I sensed such a mighty anointing from the Lord and sensed that this was one of the most powerful messages He had even given through me. I challenged the group at the conclusion to come to altar to dedicate themselves to getting prepared to proclaim the Gospel whenever and wherever the Lord sends them. Dozens responded and many remarked afterward about how the message had touched them.
Saturday. This was the day of the Adoration, Praise, and Prayer Celebration at the Soccer Stadium with Latino singers from Bolivia, Peru, Spain and the U.S. I was given 10 minutes (I took 17) and the only other speaker was the founder of Remar, Pastor Miguel Diaz. I spoke on the parable of the one lost sheep and encouraged those who had lost their way to return to the Lord who would speedily recover them from their sins and return them to fellowship with Himself. The ushers told me that many responded to the message but all I could see was faceless people as my words echoed throughout the stadium. The official attendance was 7,000 in a stadium that holds 45,000.
Sunday. Free day and we visited underground catacombs of a Franciscan order.
Other Congress activities were canceled.
For all of this, we praise the Living God without Whom we could do nothing and all efforts are in vain. Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement.
“… whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8