The living water of Jesus Christ is breaking down barriers to the gospel in a remote village high in the Peruvian Andes.
Where once the fledgling church was opposed by just about everyone, it is now accepted; where once the members were refused permission to even put up their own building, there is now a meeting room; where once the Christians were looked on as strange, they are now seen as an asset to the community of Chinchinya.
Gregorio is the church leader and his journey into that role has been anything but straightforward. He is a recovering alcoholic and, before he came to Christ, spent most of his days drinking with friends and not taking care of his family.
But for reasons known only to God, he decided to go to some talks being given by a couple — Hugo and Elizabeth — who had come from a church in the nearby city of Abancay in 2015.
Through those talks, he became a Christian, although with little understanding of what that would mean for his life. But he started bringing his wife, Marcosa, who had some church background, and their children, to church meetings.
Hugo and Elizabeth continued to come to the village and were thrilled when Marcosa’s aunt and another family joined the church.
But still the wider village refused to accept them. Indeed, they ridiculed these strange people who had given up their traditional beliefs to follow Christ.
Despite the villagers’ scorn, they could not deny Gregorio had changed. He no longer drank and was looking after his family, working to put food on the table.
Slowly, the villagers came round to a grudging respect for him and his family — but allowing them to build a church was still a step too far.
It was only when the local authorities got involved in 2017 that they finally caved in, because all believers have a legal right to meet together.
And that was when the water filters played a vital gospel role. They were first given to Marcosa and her cousins’ families by AIDIA, a project in which Serving In Mission’s Lizzie White works.
Initially, Marcosa and her cousins’ families bought water filters. They were shocked by how much mud was in their drinking water and, as word spread, more families wanted the filters.
Lizzie said: “Gregorio told me the filters, as well as giving visible improvements in water quality, have helped change attitudes towards the church.
“There has been a lot of opposition since his family became Christians and started the church a few years ago, but now people are starting to see that the church wants to help the community.
“What an encouragement!”
The Chinchinya church building was completed last year. It is far from luxurious, but it is a communal place to meet, to worship and to celebrate.
And through the filters, which have transformed lives across the Andes by ensuring clean drinking water, Lizzie is able to share the truth of the living water that is Jesus Christ. That has led to more conversations and even people, who once would not have invited Lizzie and her colleagues in, are now opening up their homes.
Lizzie said: “Our work has helped the believers show they care for all aspects of life and want to help others in their community. Visits from a doctor, a dentist and my projects with the water filters have helped break down resistance and led to more acceptance in the community.
“I visited the new church a couple of months after it was built and it was wonderful to see what they had achieved and how many new people were attending.”
- For a pastor to be raised up for the fledgling church and for Gregorio, who is doing much of that work in the interim, supported by Dina who visits the church each month from the city.
- For continued wisdom among the church members about how best to share Jesus with neighbours.
- For Lizzie, as she tries to sustain occasional visits to the church, even when the road is impassable, so that she can encourage her brothers and sisters.