By the time Rodrigo Ruiz* was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, his wife had already abandoned him and their children.
The 54-year-old waste collector in northern Peru and his children had long fought with his wife over matters both weighty and petty, but he never thought she would leave. With her away and him working, his teenage kids had become more vulnerable to the drugs and crime rampant in his town, known throughout the region as a no-go zone.
“Rodrigo said he never believed in God,” the leader of a ministry based in Peru said. “He always said, ‘If God exists, why does He allow so many problems in my home?’”
Already plagued by respiratory problems, when he contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, his condition rapidly deteriorated. The older kids looked after the younger ones. Other relatives began to wonder who among them would care for children who soon might be essentially orphaned.
One of those relatives had heard of an evangelical active in the area, and when Ruiz went into intensive care, she sought out the local missionary and asked him to visit the dying man.
“Our missionary went and prayed for him,” the director said, adding that the local worker went on to visit Ruiz’s children as well – and his estranged wife.
The message of forgiveness for those who trust in Christ’s sacrifice for sin deeply moved his children, and they believed. Seeing the transformation in them, Ruiz’s wife also trusted in Christ’s death and resurrection for salvation.
“After a few days, the doctors were surprised by the improvement in Rodrigo, and he left intensive care,” the ministry leader said. “It was there that he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior and reconciled with his wife and children.”
As he recovered in the hospital, Ruiz did not hesitate to share his journey to faith with other patients, the leader said.
“He began preaching to the other patients, singing with them and encouraging them,” he said. “Today, Rodrigo is totally healthy, and he lives with his wife and children. He opened his home for a Bible home group that is transmitted via Zoom with other people, and he has gained more relatives for Christ with his testimony.”
Ruiz and his family have decided to make the second floor of their property available for construction of a worship and prayer hall, he added.
“The Lord is doing wonders among us, and we have seen that now this family lives in peace and is filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Glory be to God!”
The local ministry has been able to continue ministering in spite of the pandemic – and because of it, the leader said.
“Now our ministry teachings and preaching are via digital platforms – online, Zoom and Facebook messenger – resulting in success in the proclamation of the gospel never seen before,” he said.
These platforms in combination with the ministry’s radio broadcasts enabled local missionaries to plant 10 new churches after the pandemic began, on top of five new congregations established this year before coronavirus lockdowns.
The first five churches were planted through home visits, evangelistic campaigns in public spaces, Bible distribution and offering to pray for people.
“This was a strategy that allowed recurring visits to the same homes, winning souls for Christ. These are the same souls that, in turn, offered places for the building of a meeting hall and for groups to worship and for Bible study,” the leader said. “The missionaries and planters, thanks to the assistance of Christian Aid Mission, have been able to donate Bibles and chairs for the children.”
During the pandemic lockdown, the 10 churches were planted as local congregation leaders learned to channel the ministry’s radio broadcasts toward virtual platforms and direct new contacts to them.
“With great joy we can say that weekly broadcasts via Zoom and Facebook of biblical studies and the plan of salvation are carried out, and we are receiving daily calls from people to accept the Lord as their Savior,” the leader said. “That is why a house church system has been organized by area and location. Each missionary leader establishes his weekly connection times for the biblical service via Zoom, and each member of the household has a function and participation within the hour of worship.”
One congregation is allowed to hold in-person services on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while in areas under lockdown, family leaders direct services in their homes with teaching from local missionaries via Zoom. In remote rural areas unaffected by the virus, worship services, prayer groups and evangelistic campaigns continue as they did before.
The pandemic has also increased the need for local missionaries to provide food baskets, he said.
“Our ministry thanks Christian Aid Mission, with whose assistance we were able to help rural villages through the distribution of food baskets,” he said. “Due to the shortage of work and lack of transportation, there is a great need for food; there is chronic malnutrition in children.”
Medicines are also distributed, and such provisions open the way for gospel proclamation. Local missionaries are making the love of Christ known to people throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to help them feed spiritually hungry people.
*Name changed for security reasons