Impact in the Andes Mountains of Peru

Seven months before my oldest daughter was to graduate from medical school, I approached her with a proposal in celebration of her hard work and accomplishments.    I asked her to come up with some kind of extraordinary experience that we could share.      There were two caveats:   first, it had to be affordable; second, when she would look back on it years later, it had to be memorable and meaningful.    She decided that she wanted to go on a trip to the Andes Mountains in South America and hike the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu.

A missionary friend of ours had a connection in South America through a ministry team building organization.    With the help of our friends in the states we contacted the outfitter in Peru directly.  Come to find out, the trip would be very affordable , so in December of 2012, we booked our trip to Cusco, Peru.  After a good bit of training and much anticipation, my two daughters, son, and I headed to the southern hemisphere for an eight-day experience in the Andes Mountains of Peru in May of 2013.

As we embarked on our excursion, the thought was how much we would enjoy God’s beauty and glory in this incredible setting.   It turns out that we would spend four days in the mountains with a guide . . . his name was Edwin.    While on the trail, I thought to myself several times if Edwin had a relationship with God.    Edwin is a great guy, and we got to talk a lot about our family and life experiences.  As the days passed, Edwin shared about being raised Catholic and not really practicing his faith.   In fact, Edwin shared that he actually practiced the Inca religion which is essentially the worship of “mother earth” and the sacred mountains.  I wondered if Edwin found these beliefs fulfilling.

One thing about the trip was the meals were great, and we always set aside time to rest and eat together as a team.  At all of our meals we had a chance to offer prayers out loud for food, the beauty of the trail, the majesty of God and we always prayed for the welfare of Edwin and his family.   By the end of the second day (which had been our hardest stretch), we had prayer and conversation.     Our guide, Edwin joined in and talked about his faith as we talked about ours.    This led us to sharing the gospel and what God has done for us through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

At the end of our trip, we all had lunch together when Edwin said, “This is a different trip for me”.    I believe what he was trying to tell us was that he saw in us the love of Jesus Christ.    For years, my son has carried in his back pocket what looks like a wallet, but is actually a small bible.   Before we were to go our separate ways, he wrote a note of invitation in the little bible and gave it to Edwin as a gift and made sure Edwin knew how to connect with him via e-mail.

What have I learned from this experience?    We always have the opportunity to share the gospel by word and action even in the remotest parts of the earth.    Now months later, we continue our prayers for Edwin and his family.  (Greg Graves)