By Gary Fallesen
Climbing For Christ
Sunday, May 25
Trekking into the Cordillera Huayhuash.
I give thanks to God for the sending of His Mission: Peru team and for all that He accomplished in and through this group: Hayley Fallesen, Rachel Horton, Andrey Khabursky, Marco Milla, Jordan Rowley, Jaime Servat, Jessica Vose and Michael Wall. It was a blessing to serve with these faithful brothers and sisters. I am certain that this was a “mission accomplished” and that His servants did what He intended for us when we first set out on May 10.
As we returned to our homes in the U.S. and Peru today with thanksgiving in our hearts we are lifting up the following prayer requests:
- For the completion of the church in June and the start of worship in July.
- For Pastor Ezekiel's placement and leadership of the church (in cooperation with missionary Jaime and spiritual coordinator Jordan).
- For protection of God's house and land from any opposition, including those individuals and organizations that think C4C was used to build the church structure for them. The church is built for HIM!
- For dear little sister Allison and her family (grandparents Teresa and Eleazar in Chalhua and mother Taina in Lima). May God provide for their needs, especially in regard to Taina's health.
- For others in Chalhua and neighboring Mashco – that many will come to know the true Jesus and follow Him.
- For house churches in Huanuca Pampa and Queropalca; may leaders be raised up.
- For new-believer Esther on a farm near Carhuacocha lagoon; may her faith grow.
- For the church, including Pastor Wilfredo's Lutheran congregation in Llamac; may they stand strong in the Truth. We pray against false teachings and the lies of sects in Llamac, Pocpa, Pacllon and other villages and farms.
- For Jaime's return in the summer to each of these places to disciple and encourage believers.
- For direction for future work in the Huayhuash.
- For direction for work to be done throughout the range, particularly a possible 2015 Evangelic Expedition into the northern end of these mountains. We ask the Lord of the harvest to send the workers He desires to GO and that He would establish our steps (Proverbs 16:9).
- For guidance and intentionality as we continue to send Jaime to minister in Cordillera Blanca villages.
- For the growth of C4C Peru, including discernment for the possibility of non-profit incorporation.
- For the health and protection of missionary Jaime. May other members, particularly in Huaraz, come alongside Jaime more and more to assist with the ministry.
- For a fundraising idea using/promoting guide Edwin Milla and climbs/treks involving C4C members. May this raise awareness about Mission: Peru and also add support to the “mission account.”
To God alone be the glory!
Saturday, May 24
We said our goodbyes to Huaraz and made the long drive back to Lima for overnight flights to the States. Tomorrow, I'll share prayer points for the ongoing work in Peru.
Friday, May 23
A special team meal: (left to right) Marco Milla, Jordan Rowley, Jaime Servat, Edwin Milla, Andrey Khabursky, Jose Milla, Michael Wall, Rachel Horton, Hayley Fallesen and Jessica Vose enjoying lunch at Edwin's home (and church) in Huaraz.
The message that echoed at a special team luncheon at C4C guide Edwin Milla's home in Huaraz was about family. Team members from the States said repeatedly how Edwin's brother Marco, our guide in the Huayhuash, and his other brother Jose, who was our assistant cook, were more than co-workers on this expedition. They were compadres, amigos, familia.
The Milla brothers returned that sentiment. For Marco and Jose, this was their first mission experience with us. They gave thanks to God for the opportunity, and saw the amazing work the Lord does through our short-term teams. Marco especially played a role in this - serving as a guide, translator, and doing whatever was needed to help Andrey, Jessica and Mike deliver the Good News through 15,000-foot mountain passes to remote farmers.
The work in the Huayhuash has only started. In a planning meeting involving C4C Peru co-coordinators Jaime Servat and Edwin Milla, Jordan and I discussed the next few months. After completing the church at Chalhua in the Cordillera Blanca and starting worship (hopefully in July), Jaime will return to Huayhuash to follow up with those our team met in villages such as Queroplaca and Llamic. He also will trek back to Carhuacocha to the farm of Esther, the woman who accepted Christ.
"I believe God was showing us there are people like Esther (who have not heard about Jesus)," said Jaime, who had never experienced such a lack of knowledge. He is accustomed to people who know about Jesus, but their focus is on "religion - worshiping idols, repeating phrases," not growing their relationship with Christ.
There is a great deal of growing, harvesting, discipling to do in the Peruvian Andes. Pray for the work the Lord is sharing with us.
Thursday, May 22
We witnessed true faith in the village of Pacllon in an 87-year-old man named Cerafin, who has had a brain tumor for two years. He struggled to sit up when we prayed with him, gasping in Spanish: "Life, life, life." Life is hard, especially for the least of these. But as we prayed for Cerafin's healing and shared the love of Christ with him, he said: "God is good." Amen.
It was a fitting experience after our morning team devotional in Llamic about Jesus being moved with compassion (Matthew 14:14). We left Llamic to return to Huaraz after eight days in the Cordillera Huayhuash. But we were led by the Spirit to go out of our way to visit and evangelize Pacllon.
Pacllon, a village perched on the side of a mountain at 11,000 feet.
Pacllon, Llamic and Pocpa are the only villages on the western gateway to Huayhuash. We finished our time on the west side of the range after having made in-roads at the eastern entrance of Queropalca and some of Huayhuash's interior. Marco, our C4C guide, said life here is very difficult with people surviving on farming (agriculture, cows, sheep). We have seen that and will be planning on Friday with our Peruvian brothers, Jaime and Edwin, how to minister in these places in the coming months and years.
"And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" - Matthew 25:40 (ESV)
Wednesday, May 21
The entire team reunited today in Llamic. We gave praise and thanks for safe passage of everyone through the mountains. Then we were blessed to worship again in the evening at the Lutheran church in Llamic.
On Tuesday night, we encouraged nine believers with the great missionary Paul's writing in the book of Romans, specifically Romans 10:14-15. Then today we found out what the local church is up against when we went out so people would hear, know and believe. We met members of a sect in Llamic who teach lies. There are many such sects and false teachings in the area.
The five who went ahead to Llamic on Monday (Hayley, Rachel, Jordan, Jaime and I) hiked about one hour to Pocpa at 11,500 feet. The dead mule with a bloated stomach lying in the small village's plaza was a symbol of the spiritual darkness we could feel. We prayed with many sick, old and injured - many who expressed a hopelessness in their stares - and handed out 14 New Testaments.
Laura, a sister in Christ, who asked us to pray for her paralyzed legs in Pocpa.
Andrey, Jessica, Michael and Marco crossed their fourth mountain pass in as many days and made a steep descent of about 3,000 feet to reach Llamic. Along the way they also handed out 14 New Testaments to believers who live part of the year in distant farmhouses. Some, who enjoyed the fellowship and gave pounds of fresh cheese, asked if the team would someday return because no other Christians go there.
That was why we were encouraging the small local church Tuesday night to go and preach the Good News. Tonight, we also shared from Jude 17-23, urging them to build themselves up in the faith, pray, and show mercy to doubters - while also guarding against the lies of the world.
The darkness seems more oppressive in the Huayhuash mountains than in the Cordillera Blanca where we began this mission and have worked since 2011. Perhaps that is why we were sent here.
Tuesday, May 20
Editor's note: The teams are continuing in the direction God is sending them. Hayley, Rachel, Jordan, Jaime and Gary are witnessing in Llamic, where there is no cell service. Gary was able to use a computer at a local school to send an email saying everyone is well. Jessica, Andrey and Michael are continuing the mountain trek and should return to Llamic tomorrow to reunite with everyone. Michael called via the satellite phone to report they had trekked through a snow storm in the afternoon. Plans to evangelize in a nearby village after dinner were likely to be cancelled as more snow appeared to be on the way. All were staying warm.
Monday, May 19
It was mostly a moving day: with one team being transported from Queroplaca to Llamic and the other crossing the Cacananpunta Pass (15,420 feet/4,700 meters) in rain, sleet and snow. The two groups met briefly at Matacancha, where our routes intersected for hugs and high-fives all around. Everyone is doing well by the grace of God.
Sunday, May 18
After our morning devotional (appropriately called "God Our Guide"), we prayed as a team and then headed in opposite directions. We went in the right direction - in God's direction.
For the five (Hayley, Rachel, Jordan, Jaime and I) heading back down the valley toward Queroplaca, affirmation occurred when we reached the farmhouse nearest to Carhuacoha. A 69-year-old woman named Esther was sitting outside turning wool into yarn. We introduced ourselves and Jaime asked Esther if she knew Jesus. She said she hadn't heard of Him. Jordan told her about sin and how it entered the world and how God sent His Son to die for our sins. After explaining he asked Esther if she wanted to accept Jesus as her Savior. She said yes. Jaime prayed with her in Spanish and we welcomed a new sister into the family of Christ.
For the three (Andrey, Jessica and Michael) who continued the climb - ascending from Carhuacoha over Carhuac Pass (15,255 feet/4,650 meters) - affirmation occurred upon reaching Camp 4. Mike reported via satellite phone from Mitucocha (14,107 feet/4,300 meters) that they saw farm houses in the distance. "After we rested we walked over and met a woman," Mike said. "Nobody had ever been out to see her (for ministry purposes)." She was a believer. The team left her with a New Testament. In all, they delivered three New Testaments to people living many hours' walk from any sort of church or village.
Meanwhile back in Queroplaca, the team was recognized by villagers as the trekkers who had handed out New Testaments. Many trekkers pass through Huayhuash, but none had ever brought the Word, they told us. In the evening we were invited to worship with nine others at a house church. Jordan led praise and worship, and then Jordan, Hayley and I encouraged the church. Some of the people knew of Esther and we urged them to be God's hands and feet and go out to her farmhouse and disciple her.
Members of both teams are doing well, strong in the Lord and eager to serve.
Saturday, May 17
"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." - Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
That is one of the top verses of this ministry. We pray about and then plan where and when to go. We seek to abide in His spirit and fulfill His will. Most of the time we get it right. But sometimes we don't hear properly or we just aren't listening. The back story behind how we ended up in the Huayhuash is too long to tell in a dispatch over a satellite phone. It will be shared at another time. Suffice it to say we believe God has used Hayley's illness to redirect our way.
Today we hiked for about five hours, gaining another 1,100 vertical feet to Carhuaeocha, a camp (13,615 feet/4,150 meters) at the base of the spectacular Siula, Yerutaja and Jirishanca mountains. Many say this is the most beautiful camp in the Huayhuash and we came to soak in the beauty of His creation. But this is the first of four days in places where there are no people, and this is an evangelic expedition. "Mission, not mountains" is part of our mantra. So for the past few days Jordan and I have been praying about what to do, and we believe God has spoken to us through Hayley's flu-like sickness.
Trekking into the spectacular Huayhuash mountains. (Photo by Jordan Rowley)
Much was shared and prayed about with the team, and on Sunday five of us will return to Queroplaca to be transported on Monday to Llamic, the village at the end of our original trekking plan. Hayley, Rachel, Jordan, Jaime and I will evangelize Llamic and neighboring Pocpa for three days. Andrey, Jessica and Michael will continue the original trek with guide Marco, prayerfully answering divine appointments with other trekkers, and the occasional farmer or miner along the trail. The entire team will reunite Tuesday or Wednesday in Llamic. We believe this is God's will for this particular mission, and that He is establishing our steps.
Friday, May 16
We reached the end of the road. Our C4C tour bus drove 2.5 hours from Huanuco Viejo to Queroplaca, a village of 300-400 people. This is where the dirt/mud road stops and the trail into the Huayhuash mountains begins. We are 12,500 feet (3,800 meters).
The team set up Camp 2 on the edge of town and then walked the village streets to evangelize. There are three "churches" here: Evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Jehovah's Witness. We distributed 44 New Testaments, many to school children, and witnessed to numerous Jehovah Witnesses. They asked questions and by the power of the Holy Spirit we provided answers pointing them to the Truth.
Hayley rested in camp while we evangelized; her gifts were missed. But she is recovering and, like the rest of the mostly healthy team, ready to trek on Saturday. God's plan continues to unfold in the face of many spiritual attacks.
"...let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." - 1 John 3:18 (ESV)
Thursday, May 15
Our first camp in the Huayhuash, a high valley area of farmers at about 11,800 feet.
We drove five hours from Huaraz into the Cordillera Huayhuash, arriving at our first camp - Huanuco Viejo (an Inca ruins) - at 11,800 feet. This is a high valley area with many farmers living on the edge of the Huayhuash mountains.
The team went out late in the afternoon after setting up camp to evangelize the area. The first house, a sister in Christ, invited them to hold church there this evening. About 20 people were invited in the course of the walkabout and 14 attended a headlamp-lit worship. Twelve New Testaments were presented to those who wanted them.
Marco Milla, Edwin's brother and also a C4C member, is guiding our group. Marco and Edwin are second-generation climbing guides. Edwin's wife has been very ill for several weeks so he needed to stay with her in Huaraz. We have been praying for her healing.
Speaking of illness, Hayley (flu-like symptoms) joined her dad (respiratory problems) on the playing-hurt list. We ask for healing and quick recoveries, and also for the health of other team members. The work goes on.
Wednesday, May 14
One of the many majestic views of the Cordillera Blanca mountains, where Chalhua is located.
The team prayed for the village and the church at Chalhua before moving out this morning. We lifted up the church's completion and all that God will do there.
Then it was a five-hour drive back over the mountains to Huaraz, where we repacked and prepared for the next phase of this mission: an evangelical trek in the Huayhuash range to the south. We will drive five hours Thursday morning to reach the starting point for our eight-day excursion there. We know the Lord is sending us to the Huayhuash for a specific and special reason. We go in His name and for His glory!
Tuesday, May 13
Jaime, left, and Jordan, right, praying for a girl in Mashco after giving her a New Testament.
The team hiked up to the neighboring village of Mashco to evangelize and invite people to an evening worship. We were accompanied by Pastor Ezekiel, who serves the church at Chalhua but lives in Huaripampa, which is a two-hour walk away. He also pastors the church there.
Ezekiel led a woman named Primitiva to the Lord and Primitiva was one of 20 people who showed up for our outdoor service under a full moon.
Another person in attendance was Alejendrina, an elderly woman who needed to be carried to worship last year and walked home healed after Jordan, his brother Justin, and Jaime prayed for her with the church.
The church at Chalhua - still under construction. But funds delivered on this trip should complete the building in June with worship tentatively scheduled to begin in July.
Jordan and the team led the church in praise and worship. We spoke to and prayed for those believers. We told them we look forward to our next visit when we will worship inside the newly constructed (and soon-to-be finished) church building.
The team, like those that came here before, were embraced by the community. They gave their hearts to the many children who again enjoyed playing with them after school. It is a joy to see relationships develop and grow, especially those that will last for eternity.
Monday, May 12
A C4C mission team has returned to the mountain village of Chalhua in the Cordillera Blanca for the fourth straight year. Our group hit the ground running - playing until after dark with the children who came to see us in the field where we are camping next to the newly built church. They were glad to stretch their legs after flying all day Saturday, driving much of the day Sunday to Huaraz, and driving another 5-6 hours today into and over the mountains.
As we drove into Huascaran National Park and up to a pass at about 15,000 feet, we spent time in a group study on the syncretism of Catholicism and folk religions in this part of the world. We talked about sharing God's truth by displaying the love of Christ.
That love was most evident when our team - with members who are ages 18, 20, 24, 26, 29 and 31 - played with the children of this village at 11,500 feet. And later when we visited 12-year-old Allison and her grandmother, grandfather and cousin for a time of fellowship and prayer. God has brought us together as family in a way that only our living, loving God could. We give Him thanks for first delivering us here and then bringing us back again and again and again.
Sunday, May 11
Happy Mother's Day from our team to all of our moms (and wives).
Praying for Taina, our sister in Christ and mother of Allison. God brought us into the life of Allison and her family in 2011. Taina has suffered from epilepsy and spiritual attacks for many years.
We visited a mom on our way out of Lima this morning. Taina, the mother of our precious little sister Allison, lives on the north side of the city. She needed our encouragement and prayer.
God used C4C to reconcile mother and daughter about three years after Taina left 8-year-old Allison to move to Lima for medical help. She suffers from severe epilepsy. Recently her convulsions have increased and during those times she has endured spiritual attacks, which have led her to consider suicide to end the suffering.
We spoke with Taina, her three sisters and a brother, about God's love for her and then lifted her in prayer. Before leaving we gave her US$100 for a brain scan in the next week that she couldn't afford.
After that we hit the road for the long drive north to Huaraz, arriving nine hours later. Along the way we did our first spirited devotional together as a team and enjoyed our time in fellowship.
Saturday, May 10
It's actually early Sunday morning as I report in from Lima, Peru. The entire team arrived safely, thanks be to God. Andrey Khabursky, Jordan Rowley, my daughter Hayley and I flew from Rochester, NY via New York City and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Rachel Horton, Jessica Vose and Michael Wall flew in from Colorado (Denver and Durango) via Dallas, Texas. Jaime Servat, C4C's missionary to Peru, greeted us at the airport. Nearly 24 hours after some of us woke up, we are going to bed - day 1 of travel complete. Praise Him!
Our Mission: Peru team is prepared to GO on Saturday (May 10). This will be our fourth Evangelic Expedition to Peru and what makes this mission special is that we are sending members whose last names are not just Rowley and Fallesen.
Climbing For Christ spiritual coordinator Jordan Rowley and his brother Justin were sent from the States the last three years with my son Jesse and me participating in the inaugural Mission: Peru in 2011.
While three of the seven U.S. team members are named Rowley (Jordan again) and Fallesen (this time my daughter Hayley and me), we are overjoyed to also be taking Rachel Horton of Kendall, KS; Andrey Khabursky of Penfield, NY; Jessica Vose of Durango, CO, and Michael Wall, also of Durango.
We know a crop of believers is ready to be gathered in Peru.
As Jesus told us in John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
We will lift up our eyes in the Cordillera Blanca and in the Huayhuash ranges in the Peruvian Andes to locate the lost. We have been blessed to minister in the Cordillera Blanca since 2011 and have been moved by the Spirit to visit the Huayhuash (pronounced “way-wash”) for the first time.
The location of Peru in South America, below, and the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash ranges in the Andes Mountains, above.
While we will be busy delivering the Good News, there is another special delivery this team will be making. God has provided US$2,500 through friends of team members for the completion of the church at Chalhua, C4C’s first church in South America. We will be delivering these funds to missionary Jaime Servat so that the upstairs inside this house of worship can be finished. We’ll also be visiting Chalhua to see old friends and the new church building.
We give thanks and praise for this blessing, and the many blessings God has granted and will entrust us with in the weeks ahead. To God alone be the glory!