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Family trusts in adventure of Godís calling to serve people of Andes Mountains in Perucomment (0)

May 15, 2014

Family trusts in adventure of Godís calling to serve people of Andes Mountains in Peru

Brian and Jennifer Pennington knew God was calling them to missions — and that was pretty much the extent of their plan.

So when the couple from Fort Worth, Texas, and their two young sons arrived at the International Mission Board’s (IMB) candidate conference for new representatives, they didn’t have much to go on.

“We were in Richmond, and everyone there already had their assignment before they got there,” Brian remembered. “We were the only ones there who didn’t know where we were going. Everybody’s researching their people groups, and we’re still trying to figure out, ‘OK, God, where do you want us to work?’”

Brian first felt called to full-time missions in Peru while on a short-term missions trip in the Peruvian jungle. So when God called his family, he felt sure they would accept an open position in the jungle.

Starting point

“Our starting point was Peru,” he said. “All I had ever been to was the jungle. But when we found out more about the position, it just wasn’t a good fit for our family.”

The only other position available in Peru was a church-planting position in the Andes Mountains.

“We weren’t thinking mountains,” Brian said. “But God showed us Isaiah 52:7, which says, ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.’”

With a long-term plan in place, the Penningtons moved to San Jose, Costa Rica, for a year of language training. But the curveballs didn’t stop.

“We thought we were going to Huaraz, a city of 50,000,” Brian said. “And we’re from a city, so we thought well, we can do 50,000 people. That’s still city-ish.”

Just one week before moving from Costa Rica to Peru, the Penningtons were surprised again. Their future supervisor, who had originally written the job request, lived in Huaraz. But the Penningtons would actually be working three hours outside the city in a rural town of less than 3,000. To top things off, they also were told their future supervisor had just resigned.

Although nothing seemed to be going according to plan, the Penningtons still felt confident in their call. Not knowing what to expect, they switched gears and moved to the tiny mountain town of Chavin de Huantar. 

Two weeks after arriving in Chavin, they met Patricia de Loarte, a Chavin native who had been living in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Patricia, a Baptist believer, had recently moved back to Chavin and had been looking for a church.

With Patricia’s help, the Penningtons began a small Bible study where Peruvian believers study Scripture and learn to share the gospel with others in their community.

Patricia said, “The presence of [the Pennington family] is something that attracts attention of the people here, because they are foreigners. It is a blessing to have brothers here where we live, to be able to talk with them, to discuss the Word. The people here accept them, but they are curious as to why they are here.”

As the group grew, Brian began teaching oral Bible storying as a way of sharing the gospel with those who can’t read. Many Peruvians living in rural areas outside Chavin only speak Quechua — a difficult, indigenous language. Teaching bilingual believers in Chavin to tell Bible stories helps spread the gospel to other Peruvian villages.

Reaching the whole community

Patricia, a passionate evangelist and promoter of Bible storying, also invited members of her former church in Lima to make missions trips to villages around Chavin. 

“My prayer request is to reach the whole community,” she said. 

Despite the initial challenges and uncertainties, the Penningtons believe that moving to Chavin and meeting Patricia was part of God’s larger plan for reaching the lost in the Peruvian mountains. 

Jennifer said of their ministry in Chavin, “In the end, we definitely could see that it was God’s plan all along.”

Brian said, “We’ve always taken comfort in the fact that God knew the whole time how it was going to be. It wasn’t a surprise to Him, and we learned to trust Him in that.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — After three and a half years of service in Chavin de Huantar, the Penningtons felt the Lord leading them to a new assignment. Working with local Peruvian believers and U.S. “partner” churches, the couple now helps with training, logistical support and strategy in an effort to plant churches in more than 100 communities across Peru. (IMB)

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