Pictured left to right are Natalie Rodriguez, Diana Rodriguez, Janeth Pacheco, Cesy Benegas, Debbie Moore (WMU Executive Director and member of the ABSC Missions Team), Sarai Martinez, Consuelo Rosales, and Elizabeth Lozano as Moore saw the team off at the airport.
Seven Arkansas Hispanic Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) members, led by state president, Diana Rodriguez, ministered to women and children in Lima, Peru during their first international mission trip June 6-16.
This was new territory for team leader, Diana Rodriguez. She expressed her gratitude to everyone that worked behind the scenes to help during the preparation process, she added that she had much to learn considering it was her first time on a mission trip out of the country. Rodriguez thanked Bob Fielding and Debbie Moore, from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Missions Team, for helping with the organization and other aspects of the trip.
“We learned that it is a lot harder than it looks.” said Rodriguez, as she shared lessons that she and her group learned through their experiences during this mission trip. Diana realized, after observing the cultural differences and situations that community members had experienced, just how much they are going through and how difficult it can be to address those issues. “We realized that we need to be thankful for what we have here.” she concluded.
She also stressed the importance and value of the safe and secure training the group received from the International Mission Board (IMB) team in preparation for their trip “You don’t really think that you will come across the issues addressed in this training, but it happens, and it is important to be prepared on what to do.” said Diana.
Rodriguez explained that the mission was brought to her attention in the spring of 2021 by Libo Krieg, national WMU trainer/consultant. Krieg informed the WMU Hispanic network that there was some interest in having a group serve a local church and community in Lima, Peru.
Amy Fisher, IMB missionary in Lima, and a local pastor, Deiser Campos, helped to specify how Rodriguez and her group could best serve the congregation, Iglesia Gracia y Verdad, as well as the surrounding community. Fisher and Pastor Deiser explained that women and the church needed to learn more about social issues such as domestic violence. They wanted the group to focus primarily on the youth and women’s ministries while serving in Lima. Rodriguez and her group wanted to do community outreach by witnessing and inviting community members to church as well.
Once the group decided they were going to Lima, Peru and had an idea of what they needed to assist with while they were there, they began their own preparation. They began preparing their hearts through prayer individually and as a group.
Rodriguez met with Fisher over the phone several times in order to fully understand what the needs were and how her group would fulfil those needs. She listed a community outreach activity the group participated in while in Lima. They walked through the city and stopped in parks to engage with kids as well as adults and parents. “While half of the team was engaging with the kids with balloon animals, the other half was inviting the adults and parents to church,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez and her team also visited several members of the local church to encourage them and their families.
Janeth, a member of the WMU team that served in Lima, shared a moving story. The group visited a member of the local congregation who was unable to attend church because of the dialysis treatments she had been receiving. They read the Bible to her, and members of the worship team played the guitar and sang songs to her. One being “Llevame a La Roca” by Maricruz Paredes.
“Janeth said that the song they were singing really spoke to her heart that night.” said Rodriguez. The specific lyric “use me Lord” spoke to Janeth. She recalled hearing and singing this song several times before but in that moment the message of the song came to life and felt so real to her. The lyrics of the song fit what the congregation member was going through.
Rodriguez attested to the dedication of the congregation in Lima, “Even though they don’t have a building, they keep serving, congregating and witnessing to their community!” She added that her group had a blast while in Lima and that their family in Christ was very welcoming and hospitable. She concluded that the best part of their trip was the opportunity to witness eight people accept Christ into their heart.
Moving forward the Arkansas Hispanic WMU network will keep praying for the new believers as well as Fisher, Pastor Deiser, and the church in Lima, Peru. They hope to receive more opportunities in the future to go on mission trips so they can use the knowledge they gained in Lima to help other churches and their communities.