‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.’ Arequipa is certainly well supplied with mountains. Jim Sayers introduces us to a hillside community where Anthony and Roxy Green have started work.
Buenos Aires is a neighbourhood of Arequipa, north of the city centre, on a crowded mountainside where all the houses are stacked up against each other, in the daytime a cacophony of tin roofs and at night a beautiful carpet of yellow streetlights. Tarmacked roads wind up steep inclines and hairpin round houses, where ladies sweep the pavement and men chew tobacco, and El Misti the volcano looms up in the blue sky.
A new ministry
This is the neighbourhood where Anthony and Roxy Green have started a new chapter in their ministry. They left the work in Simon Bolivar in August 2017, something that had been discussed for some time, and they have come to work alongside Pastor Carlos Pezutti and his wife Nancy, to serve in their church, Iglesia Biblica Bautista Jesus el Salvador. Anthony shares the preaching with Carlos, and takes turns to lead the adult Bible School before the Sunday morning service, and a midweek prayer meeting. Roxy is involved with the children’s work, and together they are valued in the church for their experience. This is a young peoples’ church, with a great deal of evangelistic energy and zeal. Most of the members are under the age of thirty.
Pastor Carlos has pastored the church since it began seven years ago. Carlos and Nancy and their three daughters, all now young adults, all live in rooms at the back of the church building. The main hall has a tin roof and lets in lots of sunlight at the edges. Bible Baptist Church Jesus the Saviour is part of a national grouping of Bible Baptist churches, with some support coming from the main church in Lima. On the Sunday I preached there their worship was energetic, simple, very prayerful, and eager to listen to the exposition of God’s Word. In the evening service I preached on Philippians 2:12-
Anthony and Roxy have found the church in Buenos Aires to be a place of spiritual refreshment, and they both are full of the joys of serving there. Anthony and Carlos are well matched, and Nancy and Roxy are a great support to each other, especially as Roxy is recovering from surgery and Nancy from radiotherapy. It is particularly good to see a missionary couple serving in a support role, where the main pastor of the church is a Peruvian national. Increasingly in the global south this is how it should be – partnership that enables national churches to flourish.
A breakthrough in Villa Magisterial
The neighbourhood of Villa Magisterial has featured much in our prayers over the last seven years. It sits between the airport and the steeply slopping mountainside. Turning off the tarmac road onto the dust tracks that run between the houses, this is the informal part of the city where people stake their claim for a plot and get building as best they can. Some homes are rough concrete huts, but many are starting to look smart as their owners build quality brick walls and fit expensive windows. The Municipality has yet to honour them with concrete or tarmac in the streets, and during a downpour we saw the rain cut a gash in the side street two feet deep in places as the torrent swept down through the ash and dust.
Anthony and Roxy started an outreach work here in 2010, based in the home of Lucresia, one of the members of the church in Simon Bolivar. A carol service that Christmas drew in seventy people. They began a children’s club, and tried many ways to connect with their families. At the end of 2018 they were beginning to wonder whether anyone would be saved. (So often in GBM’s work it seems that seven years go by before a breakthrough comes.) However, it was partnering with the Church in Buenos Aires that led to a breakthrough.
In January 2019, the church in Buenos Aires ran their first summer camp down on the coast, and nineteen people from Villa Magisterial came to join them. Anthony preached a series of evangelistic messages, and to their delight a number of folk from Villa Magisterial stood up at the final bonfire night to give testimony to coming to faith in Christ. As soon as they returned home, Anthony and Roxy started a Sunday afternoon discipleship group. To their surprise, Lucresia’s husband Joachin asked if he could join the group. A quiet character, he has come along to the meetings in his home, but it was not till now that he had professed faith, an answer to many people’s prayers. A number of the group are now considering baptism.
Many British Christians fill up shoe boxes for the ‘Operation Christmas Child’ Christmas appeal run by Samaritan’s Purse. The end of February might not be Christmas, but the boxes had arrived, and were given out to excited young faces in both Villa Magisterial and Buenos Aires. Many of these children come from informal relationships that are complicated and often brittle. One by one, the gospel of God’s redeeming grace is starting to take root in their lives.