Alabama native among group ministering to Quechua people in Peruís Ancash regioncomment (0)
January 23, 2014
Southern Baptist representative Josh Murphree doesn’t live at the ends of the earth, but he says he can see it from his back porch.
The Alabama native grins when he says this, but it does take some expert driving to get to San Luis in the Ancash region of Peru, where he lives with his wife, Crystal, and their two children. Driving to the town deep in the Conchucos Valley from Peru’s capital of Lima entails crossing a mountain range on perilous roads and traversing a 16,000-foot pass.
“It’s been tough to home-school. We have been very lonely at times. We’re eight hours away from an ATM or restaurant that won’t make us sick,” Murphree said. “It’s been tough but very rewarding at the same time. We realize we’re right in the middle of where God wants us to be.”
The Northern Conchucos Quechua live in this geographically demanding area that provides plenty of obstacles that hamper the spread of the gospel. There, Catholicism has been fused with indigenous animistic beliefs. Biblically based evangelical believers are much harder to find.
In 2012, student researchers for the Ancash Quechua team — of which the Murphrees are a part — discovered a cluster of five small Baptist churches in the remote Huánuco region. Team leader John Grady learned that these fellowships may date back to a Southern Baptist representative who traveled into the area by horseback about 20 years ago and led several people to Christ.
Grady said these five churches are some of the few that have not slipped into heresy.
“A lot of pastors can’t read the Bible and have dismissed it as old news,” he said.
On the edge of the rainy season later that year, Grady, Murphree and another colleague made a trip into Huánuco to teach and train there. The villages were seemingly cut off from the outside world in the rugged terrain high above the Marañón River, Murphree said.
“It was amazing to experience a culture that did not depend on outside trade but only from their own crops,” he said. “At the elevation where we stayed most of the people grew potatoes and cold-weather crops.”
When they arrived there were believers there “with 20 years of questions in the making,” Murphree said. For six days they met with the churches, first in the main town of Huacrachuco, and then journeyed to outlying villages to teach in other fellowships.
“We were able to spend some time with leaders in the churches, teaching oral means of sharing the gospel in Quechua through stories,” Murphree explained.
“We realize we’ve got to put a lot of our effort into Bible storying, whether it’s teaching the stories to outreach groups and house churches, helping them to multiply our efforts,” Murphree said. The leaders of these small groups have become excited about this way of teaching.
“Rather than preaching on a few verses they said, ‘I’m going to learn these stories and tell people what the Bible says. They’ll understand it this way.’”