Hindals in Peru
Chris and Deb Hindal responded to an invitation by the Association of Baptist Churches in Trujillo, Peru. The trip developed as a 21-day journey that included visits to churches in both Peru and Guyana.
About Peru . . .
Peru is a country of topographical diversity. The varied landscape includes Pacific beaches, dry coastal cities, barren Andes foothills, towering peaks of the great Andes range, vast tropical high jungle, and low jungle in which the mighty Amazon River flows. Peru’s rich history dates back to the second century, when the country was ruled by the Moche people, who dominated for 600 years. The magnificent ruins reveal their pagan religious festivals and their infatuation with the sun and moon, which they regarded as gods. Though the civilization was quite advanced in building and artistry, the depravity of their paganism was manifested in human sacrifice.
Insights from the Chan Chan dynasty (800 to the mid-1400s) can be gathered from the extensive ruins covering approximately 10 square miles. Visitors are guided through the area with a historical narrative. Even though Peru is mostly known for the rule of the Incas (1500s), they dominated the area for only about 60 years. Then Spaniards, who were pursuing silver and gold, conquered the country.
The Hindals’ first ministry took place in Trujillo, which is about an hour’s flight north of Lima. Baptist Mid-Missions first sent missionaries there in the 1930s. Twenty independent Baptist churches that trace their roots to that missionary work presently minister to this city of 750,000. Jonathan and Julie Stilwell warmly received Chris and Deb into their home, and their family served as the Hindals’ hosts and haven away from home.
Gethsemane Baptist Church
Ironically, Chris and Deb’s first two ministry opportunities, scheduled for Sunday morning, were cancelled because of a nationwide census conducted that day. By governmental order, every family in the country of Peru was to stay home from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. So the Hindals held a family service with the Stilwells. Sunday evening Chris preached at the Gethsemane Baptist Church, which is pastored by Jonathan Stilwell. Gethsemane Baptist meets in its own three-story concrete and stucco building. The first two floors are finished with adequate space for 300 to 400 worshipers. The third story is presently under construction and designed to be the pastor’s home. About 50 people attended that evening. The Hindals found them warm and receptive.
Baptist Seminary of Peru
The approximately four-acre campus of the Baptist Seminary of Peru is located within walking distance of the Stilwells’ home. The Hindals were privileged to take part in the celebration of the seminary’s 37th anniversary. Chris preached each morning in chapel and in the evening services. Pastor Julio and his wife, Flor, the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist church in Trujillo, invited Chris and Deb into their home and served them a delicious Peruvian-style meal on Wednesday evening. That night Chris preached in the midweek service. Several church choirs and special music groups participated in the Thursday evening concert, attended by about 800 people. Five hundred fifteen (515) guests enjoyed a wonderful banquet on Friday night, complete with linen tablecloths on round tables, under a specially designed outdoor tent. The warm fellowship offset the cool evening temperature.
Reverend Enoc Principe directs this fine seminary, with a current student body of about 100. The campus includes dormitories for both men and women and for married students. Several faculty also have homes on the campus. The main three-story academic building includes a cafeteria, classrooms, a library, and a chapel. Aside from the studies, campus life seems to center around the snack shack and the soccer field. It would be hard to exaggerate the impact of Baptist Mid-Missions at the seminary: Nearly 400 independent Baptist churches have been established in Peru, and most of them are pastored by seminary graduates.
Association of Baptist Churches
Chris met with the officers of the association on Thursday morning and discussed in detail the ramifications and application process of partnership in the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries (IPFBM). The association met for its annual meeting on Friday and voted to proceed with the application to become part of the IPFBM. Praise the Lord!
Rest of Trujillo ministry
The week was very busy, as Chris also taught four classes and Deb held two two-hour classes for the seminary ladies. Three students from the high jungle region discussed with Chris the possibility of getting assistance from GLS to build a seminary library for pastors in the jungle.
We said good-bye to the Stilwells on Saturday, October 27, flew to Lima, and were welcomed into the home of ABWE missionaries Steve and Kelly Frerich and their five children. The Freriches’ home is situated in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the southeast quadrant of the city, about 45 minutes from the airport. Lima, the Peruvian capital, is a bustling city of nearly 10 million people. The poorest live as squatters in shacks covering the hillsides, while tucked away in various secluded developments; the rich occupy luxurious homes in gated communities. Rich or poor, the people hustle about the city using cars, taxis, and buses—horns blowing—with few traffic regulations.
Steve Frerich graciously drove us around the city to see several ABWE-sponsored churches and pastors. Tom Pace pastors an exciting upper-class church in a beautiful church facility. One of Steve Frerich’s closest Peruvian friends pastors a church of about 45 people in a poorer section of the city. ABWE missionaries David and Evelyn Stone have been used of God to start four pregnancy centers, the main one strategically situated near the university campus. The Hindals were greatly impressed as they toured the facility and especially when they saw a bulletin board filled with stars representing the nearly 100 women who have been saved, and pink and blue paper dolls showing the number of babies’ lives that have been spared.
Through a generous ABWE contributor, a wonderful three-story brick building on a corner lot—complete with a playground and athletic court—house a seminary, Christian school, and local church. Neil Heim directs the seminary of 82 evening students. Rich Davis administers the school of 50 pre-K through grade-4 students, primarily upper-class Peruvian children. Peruvian Pastor Salvatore leads the church. We also visited a school for missionary kids under the direction of Allan Frey of Baptist Mid-Missions. It is a great facility, presently enrolling 27 students.
Steve Frerich led his church in special meetings and had Chris preach Sunday morning and evening, and Monday and Tuesday evenings. The Freriches’ church has a nice cement and stucco building, averages about 140 on a Sunday, and is searching for a Peruvian pastor to take Steve’s place.
The Hindals in Guyana
Getting to Georgetown
The next leg of the journey—which would take Chris and Deb to Georgetown, Guyana—was prolonged by some travel problems. As unreasonable as it may seem, the flight pattern from Lima, Peru, to Georgetown, Guyana, goes through Miami, Florida. Over the next day and a half, three different pilots put the Hindals’ flights in a holding pattern; four times the pilots nearly landed and at the last minute had to abort for various reasons: fog, no runway lights, and another plane on the runway. Chris and Deb spent an unscheduled night in Tobago because the airport in Trinidad was closed. Needless to say, they were happy to finally meet Everard Cadogan, the Guyanese association’s president, at the airport on Friday, November 2—thirteen hours late.
Guyana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966. The British marked the country with the English language, English-style architecture, and left-side-of-the-road driving patterns. Free public education is available through secondary school. The primary religion is said to be Christian, although Hinduism and Islam have a lot of influence. The cities appear to be typical of developing countries: littered streets, outdoor markets, and most buildings needing maintenance.
Guyana Association of Baptist Churches arranged for Chris and Deb to stay at the Guyana Bible College, where Ken and Karen Glover served as their hosts. The Hindals stayed in their own apartment, and Karen served them delicious meals.
The partnering association of Baptist churches is comprised of five local churches: Two are in Georgetown and the other three are down the coast approximately 125 miles in Berbice. On Saturday, November 3, representatives from all five of the churches met with Chris to discuss the challenges of their ministries. The purpose of the meeting was to begin the relationship that is so vital to sustain a partnership. Chris came away with several ideas as potential links to enhance the partnership’s common vision. On Sunday Chris preached at both of the churches in Georgetown, with a special service to the deaf Sunday evening with Brother David Cole.
Brother Everard Cadogan and Brother David Cole both took the day off from their full-time jobs and took Chris and Deb to see the churches in Berbice. Brother Allen Bhajan also took time off work and joined the tour. Brother Allen pastors two of the three churches in the Berbice area. These three churches reach into rural areas where there is much competition from Hinduism, Islam, and a variety of cults. The ladies of the church in Village #73 prepared a delicious chicken-curry lunch as other church leaders also warmly greeted the group. Each of the two churches that Pastor Allen leads has a congregation of about 80 children and 40 adults. These are faithful folk seeking to punch holes in the darkness.
The Hindals’ ministry in Guyana concluded on Wednesday evening at, Kitty Baptist Church back in Georgetown. Deb conducted a Bible study for the ladies, and Chris spoke later at the prayer meeting.
The Hindals left the guesthouse on Thursday morning at 3:00 to catch an early flight that would eventually lead them to their home in Chicago.
Summary and Reflections
While GLS has been supplying resources for many years to several South American countries, this was the first IPFBM trip to our neighbor continent to the south. The Guyana Association of Baptist Churches has the distinction of being the first South American partner; and, the Lord willing, the Association of Baptist Churches in Trujillo, Peru, will be the second.
What a blessing to enter local churches in these developing countries and see Regular Baptist Press materials on the walls, Sunday School papers, VBS posters, and other educational helps aiding the spread of God’s Word. In discussions with the pastors, Chris uncovered other needs and ways to make our efforts more effective.
The Bible students in the high jungle of Central Peru desire to build a Spanish seminary library. Perhaps a Bible college in the States would challenge its students to each buy one book and begin this library.
The three churches in the Berbice region of Guyana are cut off from the Bible college and the capital. Distance and travel difficulties make it a practical impossibility to take advantage of the available education. Each of those churches could use a partnering local church in the States to assist them in projects beyond their means. For example, one church needs a roof.
Another needs a pastor, but they can supply only a small amount of support. If a U.S. church could commit $500 per month for two years and then perhaps decrease the amount by $100 each year after that, this church could, by God’s grace, become self-supporting.
In addition to pastoring, the three pastors in the Guyana association work full-time jobs, as do their wives. These are men of God who serve without compensation, but also without complaint. Think about the impact of a local church in the U.S. partnering with a local church in Guyana!
“Lift up your eyes and look at the fields,
for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35, NKJV).