I didn’t fully realize one of the lessons God has been teaching me this past week until I got back home from what proved to be one of the best experiences of my life: evangelizing in Urubamba and the surrounding villages of Peru.
I have many stories I could tell but what impacted me the most was one line a middle-aged woman said to me when I spoke to her about Jesus in her small grocery store. Once I finished telling her who Jesus Christ is, how she could invite him into her heart, and that if she didn’t accept his gift of forgiveness she would go to hell in punishment for her sins after she died on earth she stopped me and said, “There is no hell other than this, we live in hell now.” I could feel my heart breaking for her and I knew then that I was starting to care for her like Jesus does.
I was thinking about her comment later and considered how beautiful her homeland is: countryside surrounded by the majestic Andes; kind, friendly people; and weather that is nearly perfect year-round. I loved the beauty surrounding the place and so was a little startled when this woman called it hell.
On the long ride home I was torn between not wanting to leave the beauty of Peru but missing my family so much I wanted to be back in Nebraska with them. Once I got back to the cornfields; flat land; and heavy, humid, buggy air I was happy. Happy because this was my home, home where love waited to welcome me. That is when it really hit me: Happiness isn’t found in beauty but in love, through love beauty is fully seen and through God love is realized. To this village grocer in Peru nothing was beautiful because she didn’t know Jesus’ love for her.
She wondered what we had to offer her. We had hope. Hope of joy, hope of love, hope of beauty, and hope of life spent with Jesus. No, she didn’t live in hell. Hell is eternal separation from God and it’s a place completely devoid of hope
She stepped out in faith to accept Jesus’ gift that day. I will continue praying for her and all the other baby-believers we left behind in Peru as well as the many that are not saved and believe they’re living through hell.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13