By Narciso Zamora
I recently returned from a church-planting trip to a small town of Luya, that on a good day, is about 15 hours by bus from my home in Cajamarca. I’m happy to say that I was well received. One day, we had 14 meet together, 17 on another day, and 10 new children came to meet with us as well. The three families I worked with are now meeting for Bible studies and we’re preparing materials for them to evangelize, disciple and cement their new congregation.
I thank God for the outcome of that trip, and I had plenty of reason to praise God for the journey too.
I left on a Tuesday morning at 4 a.m. for a 17-hour trip on a mini-bus. All day we went up and down hills and mountains, with narrow curves where only one vehicle at a time could pass. If we met up with another vehicle, one of us would have to back up for the length of several blocks until there was a wider spot in the road where we could pass. And if that was bad enough, it seemed that about half the trip was on roads under construction.
At 1 a.m., we finally arrived in the city of Chachapoyas. When the bus arrived, many people had someone waiting on them, and within minutes, there was only me and another young man standing around. He had to catch a bus out at 5 a.m. and I had to catch one at 7 a.m., so we wondered what to do for those short hours in the middle of the night.
The young man said, “Let’s walk one block and see about that hotel.”
We arrived and rang the bell and a young woman came out, asked for our documents, and then said, “I have room, it will be $13.”
That was very expensive for me.
As I was thinking about what to do, the young man said, “I only have four hours to sleep because I have to leave again on a bus at 5 a.m.”
The young lady then replied, “There is a room you could share for $10.”
The hotel was pretty full that night – the room was on top floor. When we opened the door, we were surprised to see that there was only one double bed.
I placed my backpack on one side of the room and lay down on the bed. The other man just sat up on the bed.
I said, “Lay down.” And then I started to tell him about the Gospel. I thought it was the best thing to do since we were as cozy as two cats in a bag! We certainly hadn’t intended to end up together in a room. We talked about the Word of God for about an hour and then we prayed. The young man was a Christian, but admitted that he had been lagging in his zeal for God. It had been some months since he attended church, because he had moved and not yet found another church home.
We slept for a couple of hours after that and then the young man woke and left in time to catch his bus at 5 a.m. But those few hours meant a lot more than just a little rest for his body. That night he renewed his faith and commitment to Christ!
I was left wondering what kind of fool would take a hotel room with a total stranger – and share the same bed, no less! I had taken into account where this young man had gotten on to the bus, however, and knowing that small town he was from gave me some confidence about his character. But that was all I had to go on as I consented to sharing a room and falling to sleep with my backpack full of my ministry materials – computer, projector and films.
The trip home was another adventure. With all the road work, compounded with strong rain, our trip was delayed by eight hours. The people on the bus had eaten breakfast at 8 a.m., but we got stranded by the rain and construction in a place where there was no food to be had. There were children on the bus and they cried out of hunger. It was a tough day and people were disgruntled. When we finally were able to get through, we stopped at the first place we could find and they only had rice and potatoes to serve us. We ate it – our lunch and dinner at once – and finally made it back to Cajamarca at 12:30 a.m.
At that hour, I was not able to find any transport back to my house from the bus stop – no buses or taxis, so I had to walk. It’s not safe to walk by oneself at that hour and there I was with that computer and projector in my backpack! I went praying all the way, trusting Jesús’ care.
God continues to bless us as we work to establish new churches in places without evangelical churches.