Peru (MNN) — Remember the story of Lazarus in John 11? Jesus raised him back to life after he had been dead for four days.
"Through that passage, Jesus showed us that He wanted us to go to Peru to do evangelism and discipleship," says Arthur Ivey with The Mission Society. "Jesus asked the people to roll the stone away from Lazarus' tomb; He didn't do that Himself, and for us that was a call to evangelism."
John 11:44 reads "The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face." Ivey says that while Lazarus emerged from the tomb alive, he was still wrapped in grave clothes — a representation of the old habits and lifestyle that often cling to new believers.
"Jesus told the people to take off the grave clothes and let him go, which for us is a call to discipleship," he explains.
Since the early 90s, Arthur and his family have obeyed God's calling in Peru. The Ivey Family is involved in many different ministry initiatives in Peru, including discipleship, leadership training, children's and music ministry, evangelism, medical missions, and micro-enterprise training. You can learn more about their work here.
A main focus of the Ivey family's ministry has been training Peruvians to lead discipleship groups. While the Iveys began their discipleship ministry with two groups, it's now grown to nearly 400, and over 6,000 Peruvians are involved.
"We've seen God just change their lives; we've seen them become excited about biblical Christianity and what that means," says Ivey. "We have seen those people that we started discipling, begin to go out and disciple others."
These discipleship groups are impacting more than individuals: they're changing communities, too.
"Over the last six years, we've even seen some of the churches who before did not like the idea of discipleship…now embracing discipleship in form or the other," Ivey states.
Arthur's wife, Mary Alice, knew that children needed discipleship, too. Each week, between 800 and 1,000 kids learn how to be Christ-followers.
"Once a week, [workers] go out to parks, cow pastures, and open areas in the community and have about a two-hour time with children," explains Ivey. As children learn more about Jesus and how to follow Him, their behavior changes and parents start to get curious.
Ivey says, "We often have parents come back and say, 'What are you doing with my children here? They've [been] acting differently: they're behaving, they're more respectful to us, they treat their siblings better. What are you all doing?'
"It gives us a chance to share about Jesus Christ with them."
Reaching the whole family with the Good News of Jesus Christ has become a significant challenge for the Iveys. Arthur says, "We'd really like to be more proactive and actually go visit [families] in their homes, but because of a lack of enough workers to do that, we haven't been able to start with that kind of visitation yet."
Pray that the Lord would call workers to His mission field in Peru.
"Jesus indicated, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,'" quotes Ivey. "Pray for the Lord to call Peruvian workers to work with us in the ministry."
Ivey says young adults and youth are needed to help lead the Bible Clubs. Pray also "for the Lord to call possibly another North American couple or missionaries that would come and form another leadership training team with us and the Peruvians that work with us."
Along with prayer, another big need for the Ivey family is financial support. You can support the work of discipleship and sharing Christ with the people of Peru by clicking here. Check out our Featured Links section for even more opportunities in Peru.
If God has placed a passion on your heart to serve long-term in Peru, click here to contact The Mission Society and ask for Richard Coleman.