Members of Oak Hill Baptist Church of Crossville recently joined with other Christians from around the country to participate in a humanitarian relief mission to the Andes Mountains in Peru.
The mission was July 5-20. The team consisted of 20 people from the U.S. Once in Peru, they were joined by approximately 15 missionaries, Peruvian Christians, and Peruvian healthcare workers.
The mission was sponsored by CERT International of Crossville and included medical doctors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, and general helpers from eight locations around the U.S.
CERT International has been organizing short-term mission trips to remote locations around the world for 39 years. Most missions revolve around free medical and dental clinics, but they also often include community development projects, vacation Bible school-type activities, and lots of evangelism.
CERT’S model of ministry involves partnering with missionaries and churches who are doing a good work in a remote location, but who aren’t receiving much assistance from other sources. The CERT team will then come alongside the missionary or local church for 10 days to two weeks, and help to strengthen the work they are already doing in that area.
This mission was to the Ancahuasi region of Peru, which is about 30 miles north of the city of Cusco. The U.S. team stayed in a hotel in Cusco. Each morning, they were joined by their Peruvian partners and together they traveled by bus to isolated villages in the mountains outside of Cusco. The team conducted free medical and dental clinics, VBS activities, and they also operated a “spiritual pharmacy.”
Pastor Jim Mersereau of Oak Hill Baptist served as the team leader. He said that, although the physical ministry was important and did a good job of meeting the physical needs of the people, the spiritual ministry was much more important. He explained the spiritual pharmacy this way:
“The clinics were set-up in such a way that the people got to see the healthcare professionals and receive all their medicine first. Then, after they knew they had already received all the care they needed, and once they were free to leave if they wanted to, they then had the additional option of going to the spiritual pharmacy to receive prayer, counsel and literature, if they wanted it.”
Mersereau further explained, “We didn’t want anyone feeling as if they had to participate in the spiritual ministry in order to receive the health care. We wanted to be sure that the ones who came to the spiritual pharmacy were there because they wanted to be.”
And there were many who wanted to be there. Mersereau said that hundreds of people waited in line patiently, sometimes for an hour or more, to speak to a counselor or to be prayed for, and to receive evangelistic literature.
The team worked in nine villages, served about 1,000 medical and dental patients, filled more than 2,200 free prescriptions, and had the opportunity to minister spiritually to hundreds.
Team members from Crossville were Mersereau, Mark and Regina Randolph, Ted and Sharon Pelfrey, Joyce Jewell, Jim Cox and Brooke Foster.
To learn more about the ministry of CERT International, you can visit their website at www.certinternational.org. To learn more about the ministry of Oak Hill Baptist Church, you can visit their website at www.oakhillbaptist.net.