In about two weeks my family and I will be leaving Cajamarca after a little over six years. This is beyond question the most difficult move we have ever made. Not because of the challenges of moving in Peru, which is difficult enough, or the fact that it is not just a move within Peru but from one country to another in South America. Not even because of the foreseeable challenges of having to adapt to a new culture. The biggest difficulty is leaving our church and the family we have made here. One of the elders at our church asked me the other night as we were headed to dinner, "What have you enjoyed most in your time here in Cajamarca?" Without hesitation I said the people. But I went on to clarify and to expand on that response. It is not the people in general, but the people of our church. I love all the people here, yes. The people here are so loving and open. It is a very warm culture. It is very different than where I am from and what I am used to. But that isn't what I was talking about. I have been amazed at what the Lord has done in the lives of several people who come to Refugio. I told him, "we have seen lives radically changed by the Lord." Never would I have ever expected to be a part of this. I hope and pray that in Valdivia we will get to experience this as well. But leaving our people is what is making this so difficult.
As I thought more about our time here I couldn't but help just praise Christ for His grace. Everything that has taken place here, really has nothing to do with us. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time. If we weren't here, the Lord would have raised someone else up who would have got to participate in what the Lord was doing. I am so grateful that we got to see lives changed. I am grateful that people are growing in Christ. I am grateful that the Lord can use boneheads in His plan. But during these last few months, I have also been able to teach our people and show them that the Lord's plan is beyond ourselves. Too many times we focus on what is right in front of us and forget the big picture. I have gotten to show them about the importance for Christ's mission of reaching the world. About the priority of intentional church planting that we see in the New Testament. There is a global focus in the gospel that sometimes we forget because we are only looking at ourselves and our issues. It has also been an opportunity to teach them about obedience to the Lord even when it is difficult. Even when we don't want to, it is always in our benefit to obey the Lord.
It has been a great internal struggle to actually let go. I don't want to leave right now. The church has reached the point that we have been wanting to get to for years. Why leave right now? Well, because that is the Lord's plan. I am thankful for great encouragement and exhortation that I have received as of late. I look at Adolfo and Raul and John and the rest of our key people at Refugio and I couldn't be more blessed and confident in turning the church over to them. Their love and commitment to Christ and to His people is obvious. Refugio will be in good hands. Of course, she will be in the hands of Jesus, but I also mean those whom the Lord has raised up. Looking at them has brought me great peace. Each one of these guys brings something so unique to the table. It is a great team and I couldn't be prouder to have been a part of them and to have served with them.
The good thing is we aren't to far away and if the Lord allows it, we plan on visiting a couple times a year. I can't say it enough, but it has been an incredible six years. When I planted the church, even though I shaved my head, I had a full head of hair and no gray in my beard. Well, my beard is full of gray and even if I didn't shave my head, I wouldn't have much hair to grow out. I have seen and continue to see so many short comings in my life. It has been a great time of refinement and stretching. Without these past six years I would not have learned dependance upon Christ and learned of the empowering of the Spirit. I have seen the results of when I strive in the flesh or when I am walking in the Spirit. I can only imagine what the Lord is going to do in me these next six years. I imagine more of the same. But one thing is for sure, I look forward to the day when we finally see Christ face to face and we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. I look forward to the day when we have no more goodbyes but we are all gathered around the throne worshiping Him forever more. Saints from all the ages, from all the churches, from all the nations. Nicole and I always knew it would be difficult to start this journey. But never did we know it would be this difficult. One thing though that we have learned in abundance is that the Lord's grace is sufficient. It is one thing to know something in your head and it is quite another thing to know something experientially. That is what is happening in our lives right now. We are learning lesson after lesson experientially not just intellectually. And for that, we are even more grateful.
On December 2nd, my son and I will leave the mountain in a van and drive to Valdivia. On December 3rd my wife and daughters will get on a plane and fly down. My son and I have already begun to shed tears and begun our goodbyes. When the girls return from the States next week they will begin. Please be praying for us and for those whom we leave. These last six years have been incredible and the Lord has been faithful. Thanks so much for all your love and support. It would have not been possible without you. May the Lord shower you with His grace today.
Soli Deo gloria.