Harvest in Hard Times: Calvary Trujillo, Peru
Story by Carmel Flippen
Photos courtesy of Calvary Trujillo, Peru
This story is a follow-up to a May 2020 article on Calvary Trujillo, Peru, and their ministry known as Bolsas de Amor, meaning “Bags of Love”. Packed with essential food items and encouraging notes, the Bags of Love saved many lives during the pandemic, both physically and spiritually. Read the original article here.
It was an hour-and-a-half bike ride to the Bello’s house: nearly five miles mostly uphill in stifling heat, through bad neighborhoods on poorly maintained roads. With strict quarantine measures locking down the country, it was also illegal. Nonetheless, Calvary Trujillo youth leader Joaquin Ibanez and several female students from Calvary Bible Institute (CBI) Peru made the journey every week.
Cory and Danielle Kilgus have seen God grow Calvary Trujillo, their two-year-old church plant in Peru, in amazing ways during their toughest season in ministry.
The small apartment Joaquin visited held multiple families from the Bello clan. As Venezuelan refugees, they were already struggling to meet basic needs before quarantine. Now, the “Bags of Love” Joaquin brought from Calvary Trujillo were often the only food they had to eat. Yet 14-year-old Ines was even more hungry for teachings from God’s Word as the visitors discipled her family.
“… Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat … Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:1a, 2b
A full praise band including a Peruvian box drum, or cajón, leads worship during Calvary Trujillo’s first service in their new building.
Ines had accepted Christ in September 2019, after a Calvary Trujillo sermon. “When I heard the teaching about repentance and that a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life … I decided I wanted to follow Jesus,” Ines remembered. That night, “I prayed by myself in my bed crying and a little bit afraid. I [got] on my knees praying, asking the Lord to save me.” Six months later, the pandemic hit, and the weekly discipleship began, fanning her newfound faith into flame. “ I … learned a lot hearing the experiences of other believers and seeing what it looks like to walk with Jesus. They helped me develop the habit of being in God’s Word daily and really studying and learning from the Word,” she explained. “Hope Belmont really impacted me. She decided to come to [CBI] Peru from [Horizon Christian Fellowship in Harrisonburg, VA,] to study and serve. She had such a peaceful, but willing, heart to serve the Lord. It really showed me that God was real, and I wanted to do the same thing as her.”
Cory hugs Jose, a new believer with whom he prayed to receive Christ a few months ago.
CBI Peru is one of three Bible institutes launched by Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel, CA. The one-year ministry preparation program equips students for missionary work and church planting through bilingual classes and hands-on experience. This semester, quarantine restrictions prevented its interns and most teachers from coming. Nevertheless, 18 full-time students from across North and South America have persevered alongside the local part-timers. With her own school closed, Ines embraced the opportunity to take classes with them last February, keeping track with or at times outpacing her older classmates, who ranged from 18-30 years old. One of the books Pastor Cory Kilgus of Calvary Trujillo assigned was a 300-page commentary on the Book of Revelation. “It’s very technical,” he admitted, “rich but not easy to read.” While many students struggled to finish it, he was amazed that Ines was one of those who persevered to the end. Now that schools have reopened, Ines has borrowed an equally weighty commentary on Genesis so she can continue learning. “She’s an incredible young [woman] on fire for God,” Cory asserted. “She’s really the catalyst that convinced her whole family to be saved.”
CBI student Angel Pacheco teaches Sunday School to a full house. Angel and his wife Yeni, Venezuelan immigrants, were Cory’s first students in the discipleship house which became CBI. Now Angel is training to be one of Calvary Trujillo’s pastors.
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven … water the earth and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11
By most metrics, 2020 was devastating for Peru. Despite having one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, the small nation suffered double the COVID-19 deaths per capita as the United States. Many more died from secondary effects such as starvation or lack of available medical care. Yet as literal and economic doors swung shut around the nation, God was opening doors for ministry to people hungry for a hope that remains solid through horrific circumstances. Ines testified, “Even with all the difficulties of the pandemic, I can see God’s hand in everything in our lives. The way my parents are living … is so different … God is providing for us and changing our family.”
Danielle Kilgus (center) leads a Peruvian friend in prayer to receive Jesus as her Savior in Calvary Trujillo’s new building. The woman occasionally attended pre-pandemic ladies’ events, but the Bags of Love ministry connected her more deeply with the church and with Christ.
On January 31st, Ines and her family were among 13 people baptized in Calvary Trujillo’s new facility. Many of the new believers’ faith began or was deeply strengthened by Calvary Trujillo’s COVID-19-era ministry. Last year, the small fellowship persevered through extreme difficulties; this year, they are reaping a spiritual harvest. On the Sundays the church is allowed to open, they have consistently seen double their pre-quarantine attendance. Six new small groups have started, as well as multiple new ministries. CBI is just under maximum capacity. “It has been a difficult year, but it encouraged us to walk by faith and receive His grace in any time,” said Cory. “Now we are seeing God move, work, save, grow, and provide.”
Check back for more stories about lives which have been transformed through Calvary Trujillo’s COVID-19 ministry.
Students attend class on Calvary Bible Institute (CBI) Peru’s rooftop, having long outgrown their previous classroom. Despite the limitations of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns during COVID-19, enrollment is nearly at full capacity. Ines, 16, sitting in the front, decided to follow Jesus as believers from Calvary Trujillo delivered “Bags of Love” to her family before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBI students attend class on the roof. A huge increase in enrollment this year caused the class to outgrow their normal classroom.
Cory prays over a CBI student at a late-April event for the students and their families. At the end of the night, each student received a specific verse, personal prayer, and his or her own Bible which CC Greeley, CO helped provide.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.