Wow! Seemingly overnight, the ministry of El Arca has grown through many changes! Probably the best change is that we have finally become one big happy family in the jungle. Sadly though, many of the children have been “reinserted” into the homes of healthy family members. We have committed to visiting them from time to time in order to make sure things are going well, since in a very real way, we have become their family as well. The rest of the children are in school in two different communities, the grade schoolers in our own Fitzcarrald, and the secondary students in San Bernardo, about 5 miles away. Legally speaking, we are no longer a children’s home, but instead a family! The government passed laws intended to reduce the institutionalization of children in large Catholic or evangelical ministries that ultimately cannot provide for the needs of each child. Instead, there has been a lot of misuse of funds as well as child abuse. To their credit, the government is now first investigating family alternatives. We completely support the Peruvian government in these efforts, yet the new laws drastically increased non-child expenditures (hiring of a minimum of 5-7 professionals), new regulations and red tape have made it extremely difficult to provide the care and attention the children need. In addition to the added expense, the new laws want children to be in and out of homes within two to three months. We have always believed God was calling us to be a family, not a babysitting service, spending more money on professionals than on the children. Even the large catholic homes that have enjoyed exoneration from regulations over the years are finding it difficult to function under the new laws. Our doors are still open to these children if they ever need or want to return, just as they are to other needy children here in the jungle. Our new focus will be helping single moms and their children, thereby not being so handicapped by the new regulations.
Stranger things have happened... just not sure what!
Also, Bud has now a University professor! teaching at a small theological seminary, recently finishing courses in the prophetic books of the Bible and Hermeneutics (how to study the Bible for yourself). The classes are at night to fit the schedules of the students, mostly pastors and church leaders, and are taught mostly by local missionaries and pastors. Bud’s next course will be evangelism. He has also been invited to preach at several local churches, some on a semi-regular basis, giving encouraging, revitalizing messages. Our worship team (Joseph, Rebekah, Charity, Bielgui and Rosalio) accompany him. They call themselves “Horizon”, after Psalm 121, because we must keep our eyes on Jesus always. We also continue going out for weekly evangelism on Friday nights.
Another new focus
My new focus is actually being in one place as a wife and mother, and to intercede for God’s people and ministries. One of our new emphases is a return to fight for the unborn. In Cusco, we have opened up the very first (clandestine) crisis pregnancy center, clandestine in the sense that is in the middle of a street lined with illegal abortion clinics that offer free pregnancy tests as an indicator that they indeed provide abortions. We offer free pregnancy tests (thanks to the first 300 tests being donated by CERT International!!), along with videos including the Silent Scream and counseling, along with lots of love and encouragement for these girls in panic mode. We will be collecting baby and maternity clothes and vitamins for those who decide to carry their child to full term. We have a full time nurse, and the director of our Home Marleni, will now put her energies into this new and exciting endeavor. We began a week and a half ago, and already two babies have been saved!!! Praise the Lord!!! Living here in Perú has made us acutely aware of how much mercy God has on a nation that has never legalized abortion. Many South American nations have retained their conservative catholic beliefs concerning abortion and contraceptives, but things are starting to change. Recently there was an attempt to legalize abortion and Congress was actually considering it until they found out that the major promoters of the bill had [allegedly] received several million dollars from Planned Parenthood, which revelation followed closely on the tail of the released undercover videos regarding the [alleged] sale of fetal body parts by that same institution. But new efforts are being made using the Zika virus and supposed birth defects supposedly related to it as an impetus. But Zika has never caused birth defects in any of the other countries where it has infected up to 75% of the population. For instance, Columbia, where there are plenty of cases of Zika, and none of microcephaly. Despite reports to the contrary, none of the cases of microcephaly being reported in Brazil have ever been linked to Zika in a scientific study. A group of South American doctors are now saying that the incomplete development of the brains in newborns is caused by mass fumigations, for over 18 months, in low income areas, with an insecticide that causes incomplete development in mosquitos between the larval and pupal stages. In the 3893 cases of malformations confirmed up through January 20 of this year, 49 died and only five of those mothers had been exposed to the Zika virus, often not even manifesting symptoms. But the media is promoting this as a reason to delay getting pregnant for two years (why two?), which will promote fornication and birth control; and talking about the “poor mothers” who won’t be able to get a legal abortion... Please pray about this in-your-face strategy to increase malevolent strongholds and powers because of the legalization of the spilling of innocent blood. Pray also that God will shut down all the abortion clinics.
Another new addition - the old fashioned way!
The whole Lenz tribe is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new member sometime in May. Caleb and Anna flew to the States for the final months of their first pregnancy. They will certainly enjoy great family time together with Anna’s parents (I’m jealous) as they welcome this precious little one! Please keep them in your prayers as they have little time to locate a midwife and a job for Caleb to be able to pay her!
Scattering our seed...
By faith, we sent two of our precious Peruvian daughters to do their DTS in Chiclayo, in northern Perú. We are missing them terribly. One of our Peruvian sons is staffing a DTS (having completed his own last year) on the outskirts of Lima, and Joshua has now finished the classroom phase of his DTS in Perth, having experienced a major paradigm shift, and is about to go on outreach to Nepal. We are looking forward to see God’s plans unfolding in all of their lives. We had prayed about the possibility of doing our own DTS here this year and were strongly encouraged to do so by others in YWAM Perú, but after all was said and done, we didn’t believe the timing was right, especially for the amount of construction and staffing that would have to be done anticipating the arrival of the students, so that dream is back on the shelf for a while.
Odds and ends
We are helping an alcoholic mother of 8 with an abusive husband, the children are so small and underdeveloped and cannot afford to go to school. In the jungle we are still helping in the men’s prison, and Anita Pestana has gotten out of prison in Cusco, is temporarily staying at our house waiting for the authorities to return her passport (not sure how long yet, but maybe a couple of months) and then we need to help her get back to South Africa. Meanwhile, she is doing Bible study in the house and going to church with Ella every Sunday. At this point we are without the extra funds to buy that ticket, but I ministered to her for 6 years while she was in prison, and she has been totally transformed. Anita aged much in prison (she is now 60) and just wants to go back home and help her sons and grandchildren – whom she has never even met! – to believe in God!
Just some thoughts...
In Africa, when hunters set up a great fire in their camps at night that brighten and warms everything, the wild beasts keep a good distance away. But as the hours slip by and the hunters grow tired and sleepy, they no longer keep the fire burning boldly. As the fire light dims, and night moves into deeper darkness, the wild animals creep closer. At a certain point, when the fires are very low, you can see the animals by their encircling eyes. As the fir is neglected, the larger beasts seeking prey draw even closer…
Western Christianity has waxed cold and grown dim. The once bright, bold fire of the west was the light that gave spiritual depth, freedom, and safety to millions for many years. Christians are the hunters who haven’t kept the Spirit’s fire burning bright. We have quenched the Spirit of God and dimmed the power of the cross and the glory of His grace. Truly we are in need of personal revival. Our family as well! On March 17 of this year, I had a flash picture as I was awakening at 5:30AM. I was in my living room handing out the elements of communion to all the children, only I was shaking vitamins and medicine tablets out of a white bottle into my hand to give them one by one. At first I thought God was trying to tell me that I am quick to administer remedies for the physical maladies of those around me, but negligent to apply spiritual care for their soul’s needs. Upon further meditation, I now believe that the Lord was saying that our spiritual lives are generally anemic, and undernourished because we are not feeding enough on Jesus Christ in the Word of God, including the fact that we need to receive the Lord’s Supper more often. There is a grace and strength imparted each time that we obey the command to remember His death until He comes. We will need more of the Lord’s strength in these last days to be able to occupy until He comes! We will need more of His grace to endure to the end. Brothers and sisters, are you ready to never deny our Lord Jesus Christ if we do not get raptured out at the beginning of the tribulation? And to never betray one another? To guard our hearts by forgiving everyone immediately? All the strife and division going on right now in so many Christian homes and churches is simply satan’s distraction so that he can steal your crown, kill your hope, and destroy your soul! God is speaking clearly now! We have a short time left to make critical and possibly irreversible directional decisions. Are we certain that we really know Him? Are we sure that He really knows us? Do we have enough oil in our lamps or do we need more? Our Lord Jesus is very grieved that many live as though we have much time, when we don’t. We love you all and will continue to pray even more earnestly for all of our prayer partners and financial supporters.
Back at the ranch...
We still have some urgent projects to complete in order to become completely independent and able to provide for all of us here in the jungle – affectionately known as the Rockin’ A Ranch… In addition to finishing out the dormitories (we are close!), we need to fence in the area around our buildings/living area for better protection for the children and small animals (our chickens are hatching babies, but the night creatures are also having a feast…), and we need to finish a barbed wire fence around part of the land in order to keep our cows (and milk) in, and the neighbors cows out. Please pray that we can finish these two projects by October of this year. In all, it will cost about S/.35,000, which is around $10,000 (depending on what the dollar does… been a little erratic lately…). We had most of the money, as well as what was necessary for the DTS of Delia and Roxana, in Bud’s backpack locked in our truck, last month. But right when Bud unlocked the doors (never trust an electronic lock switch that unlocks all doors at once…) one man approached him from behind the truck asking for directions, while another slipped open the passenger side door and stole the backpack, money and Bud’s passport. We have kicked ourselves in the back side ever since, because we should have known better! But we have been limping along, playing catch up ever since. It has brought us back into a deeper dependence upon God.
We thank all of you for your prayers and for helping us to continue being a bright fire here in the Amazon, doing all we can for the increase of God’s kingdom!
We are in the best of times, as well as the worst! And in the end, praise God, Jesus wins! Keep looking up!