Many of you have heard of the open doors in the country of Peru! Well for our stories this issue we decided to feature several incidents from the October Peru trip! We pray that you will be blessed by these accounts of God’s power, love, and faithfulness, and even His sense of humor.

Our first story is from Madeleine.

God Gave Me the Hiccups

On October 24th of this year, a group of about fifty people, including myself, traveled with Mr. Gothard to Peru for a week-long mission trip. During the trip the Lord’s hand moved mightily in many ways— leaving every single one of us in awe of His awesome power.

A humorous thing happened one day when part of our group went to a homeless girl’s shelter… I was in shock at the poverty the girls lived in, yet how smiley and happy they were because of our visit. There was one girl, however, that stayed solemn and alone. I observed as different people from the group attempted to talk to her; it was useless! She kept her arms folded and eyes downcast. I had endeavored to talk to her twice already— just saying “hello!” but my attempts were as futile as the rest. The moment I gave up, however, I felt a nudge in my spirit. “Just one more time… try to talk to her just ONE more time.” At first I was reluctant, but nonetheless, I obeyed the prompting.

I opened my mouth to speak, “Hi, my name…” – I could already tell this wasn’t going to work, since her face was still grim, but I just kept talking— “…is Madelei… *HICCUP*” Oops.  I killed the chance. Why the hiccup right then??? I tried again, “I’m Madelei…*HICCUP* It happened again! Why was I hiccupping??? I attempted my name one last time, “I am Madelei…*HICCUP*” I thought for sure I had ruined my chance with her— But then it happened!!! She burst into laughter! She actually smiled!!! God used my hiccups to tear down her walls and I was able to share the love of Jesus with her.  What I thought had been a bad thing turned out to be the door to communication. I thank Jesus for that little girl and I thank Him for the day He gave me the hiccups.

Our second story is from Libby.

Treasure…..in the most unexpected places.

The view from my window as the plane came down.As the plane slowly began to descend I leaned closer to the window I was sitting next to. My eyes were hungry, longing to see what lay just under the clouds.

Suddenly, there it was! The horizon broke and the land below us appeared. Mountain peaks were proudly piercing through the vast whiteness and making their mark in the atmosphere.

We began descending more rapidly and then, my eyes rested on the land. Such an overwhelming feeling of coming back swept over me and brought tears from deep inside that flowed freely as we touched the foreign soil. These tears were that of joy and awe at God’s goodness. Anticipation flooded the planes cabin as the seat belt signs turned off and the flight attendant gave warning about items shifting during the flight. This was it, we had finally made it, this, was Peru.

Each and every day was brimming over with events that changed my life. These things are not your every day, run of the mill events.  It was sea after sea of Typical Peruvian street corner.arms and faces, eyes that haunt your memory. Each look filled with questions; each desperately searching for love. Will they find it in us?

As I looked into these eyes, those of adults and children alike, it was as if I saw something far more than just the people. I walked the streets and listened to the hum and beat of the life around me. At every corner that was turned there was a new aspect of life shown. Turn one corner and see the people in the city, rich with their fortunes, but not knowing what to do with them; so you watch them turn into one of the many casinos that lined the streets.

Around another corner you turn to see the smiling eyes of a child, searching your eyes for love. Turn yet again and grab the hand of a young girl who smiles yet has known untold pain in her short lifetime. Each life is brimming with stories that have never been spoken because no one has listened to them.

And yet, they would not want us to feel sorry for them, because even in the midst of the hustle and flow of life they still laughed and gave joy to everyone around them.

We encountered so many different aspects of life everywhere we went. From churches to hospitals we experienced a bounty of opportunities to minister and reach out. Whether it was school children or homeless mothers, we were able to see them the way Jesus must have. From my window in the hotel I could look and see the city stretching out in front of me. The streets filled with individuals looking for love. One thing that I never imagined while I was looking out there was how we would be ministered to by those people.

Breaking down walls

We found ourselves in a place that appeared to have no significance; yet behind the walls it held something far more valuable than many could understand. Precious are the ones that reside there; holding a treasure that few posses….. Not knowing what to expect we stepped behind the walls and entered into this world full of hidden treasure. We were not sure what we would find or even how we would find it, but we knew something would be unveiled. These walls were that of a girls’ home, one of many across Peru.

Each of these homes house precious girls that have been abused. We entered into their world, a world full of longing for something greater than the pain and hurt they had experienced. The air was a bit thick. Thick with anticipation mingled with curiosity. As we began to interact with the girls it was still at a level of gaining trust and testing the waters. The treasure was right there, but were we even going to catch a glimpse of it? Who would have guessed the answer? Who would have ever thought that a volley ball would begin to unlock the treasure?  As the ball was hurled into the air and shot over the net, it was as if a dam broke and torrents started rushing freely. Before you knew it we were all there together, walls down as we began the game.

It must have been a sight, seeing us in our suits putting forth all our energy into the volley ball game. The girls shouted and cheered as we hurled the ball back and forth. I looked around as the game continued; their faces were alive and the treasure was revealed right in front of us. It was the treasure of beauty and joy, pure and undefiled. It shone from their faces and beamed through their eyes even while the sky overhead remained gray and overcast. Laughter danced in the air as we lost ourselves in the delight of it all. Their smiles were like diamonds flashing and their shouts of joy were like strains of beautiful music.

The game ended and all of us gathered in the meeting room. With the walls now torn down we were able to speak and reach into these lives. So many were filled with questions and searching hearts. During that time we presented them with a gem of our own, called forgiveness.

I sat there and held the hand of a little girl sitting beside me; she leaned against my shoulder and continued her intent listening. Every girl in that room became alive with hope. Hope that they didn’t have to be held back, hope that they could live differently, and hope that their future would not be dictated by their past. Many had pains that were far too heavy for them to bear; tears flowed freely as they had an arm placed around them or as they leaned their head on a shoulder.

A battle was being fought in our very midst in that room. A battle that the Enemy had been trying to win since the beginning of these girls lives. He had been binding them with fear and anger and hurts and countless other strongholds. But no longer would he have the same power over these girls. I saw walls crash down and hearts begin mending. It was incredible to watch our staff jump over the language hurdle and really speak into the lives of these girls with their actions. For some of the girls it was more than enough to have someone put their arm around them and just listen.

A most beautiful gift

Rosa, a young mother, changed my life. She gave me a glimpse of her beauty and I will never forget it. She poured out her heart right there in the cool evening. She didn’t tell me her terrible story, she didn’t cry, but there was desperation in her voice. Holding her young child she spoke in broken English. Treasure of incredible value was revealed in her words. There wasn’t enough time, but between broken sentences through a translator she presented me with the most beautiful gift.

Rosa told me that I was to be encouraged, to keep going even through the pain of remembering the past. She told me that many of the girls in that room had each been through their own personal hurts far worse than I had ever experienced. Her hands reached to my face to brush away the tears from my eyes. It was priceless as she spoke that blessing over my life.  How could it be that this girl, who had been abused by evil, could be filled with so much love?

Everything about her was full of peace and infused with joy. She had learned to be strong because of what life had been like. Both of us finally knew that time was running out so we quickly prayed together and exchanged embraces. She wouldn’t let go, her grip was firmly gentle as she held on.  Sadly, the moment soon came when we had to leave.

We had come, not knowing what to expect, not knowing that we would leave so rich. The treasure we took away with us that night was one of the most stunning jewels in God’s whole collection. It was the treasure of seeing beauty come from ashes.