A Letter from Chenoa Stock, serving in Peru
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“They thought they could bury us… They didn’t know we were seeds.”
This quote, and the beautiful mural it is written on, have been engrained on my heart and mind from the first time I saw it while driving through the streets of Ferguson, just months after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.
Perhaps this quote has returned to my consciousness, given the current events in the U.S. in Buffalo, NY; Laguna Woods, CA; Uvalde, TX, and more. I think about my four-year-old son, the lives lost, the families affected, the state of the U.S. and the world. I recognize my despair and sadness and allow myself the time to mourn. My heart and mind initially focus on the first part of this quote, feeling overwhelmed and submerged in tragic news.
But thankfully, in the literary world, we do not stop at a comma; we must read on. Likewise, as Christians, we do not stop at death; we are called to be agents of spiritual photosynthesis – being light and water to the seeds of Hope and Life.
As I embrace this time I have had in the U.S., I have been in awe, watching spring make its presence known in our area: grass, as if overnight, turning from brown to green; trees fully covered in blowing leaves; flowers blooming up in every crack and garden; bugs and insects permeating the air; and the sun’s rays as strong as ever. Many months ago, seeds were planted so we could now enjoy this magnificent spectacle of growth in God’s Creation.
Throughout the pandemic, our partners in Peru and their ministries have also experienced loss and sadness in their communities. They have been overwhelmed by the increased inequality and food insecurity that the pandemic has exacerbated and have felt the effects of isolation and disruption of daily life.
But they did not stop. They planted seeds of Hope. They kept looking toward the Light.
I speak with our partners now, knowing that their seminary and Bible institutes are currently full of students, that COVID-19 case numbers have dropped drastically in the country (at the time of writing), and that a majority of the population is vaccinated. I can sense the Hope and growth that has come from patiently waiting in faith, trusting that their ministries would flourish again in God’s time.
One particular ministry where I have seen planted seeds come to life is through Jesusa Chavez’s work with the Women’s League of the Evangelical Church of Peru (IEP). Jesusa tirelessly advocated for the recognition of women in the denomination. She created theological courses and curriculums, made possible by their partnership with U.S. congregations, and traveled nonstop to multiple rural, hard to reach regions so that women could receive training and become stronger leaders in the denomination.
Before her passing, Jesusa proudly attended the August graduation of the first 10 women to complete this course. I have since learned that these 10 women are now accompanying Jesusa’s husband, Pastor Leopoldo, supporting him in watering the seeds planted by Jesusa’s traveling and teaching the different courses to Women’s Leagues around the region.
Pastor Leopoldo recently shared with me that, unsurprisingly, it was Jesusa’s dream to empower women of the church, not only in their region of Cuzco but in the entire IEP denomination. As her curriculum continues to be shared far and wide in the Cuzco region, and as more women participate in this theological training, Leopoldo gratefully expressed that they have made “un pasito,” a step forward towards changing the mentality regarding accepting women’s place in the church. Jesusa’s seed of empowerment has been faithfully planted and watered. It continues to grow. Currently, the IEP is reviewing her curriculum with the possibility of adopting it as its denomination’s national educational material.
It is these stories and more that I am excited to share with you while I am on Interpretation Assignment in the U.S. through December. During these months, I can more intentionally dedicate my time to being with U.S. congregations and bringing these seeds of hope to life from our partners. The employee travel ban was recently lifted, so I am now free to make in-person visits with churches. I want to emphasize that given the ups and downs of the pandemic and the fact that my son is not yet vaccinated, I will remain aware of the case numbers in a region before traveling. In order to be a faithful steward of God’s Creation and resources, I will schedule visits by region. Please let me know if your congregation is interested, and hopefully, there are a few more churches in the area that I could also visit while I’m there. While wanting to be with you in person, please know that virtual visits are still an option during this time. It will be a joy to connect with you in whatever way possible!
Thank you, as always, for being agents of spiritual photosynthesis by pouring your prayers and support onto our seeds of partnership. May they continue to grow and be nourished, living into God’s Light and Hope.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32
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Tags: Evangelical Church of Peru (IEP), Joining Hands Peru, leadership, Matthew 25, network, women’s empowerment, women’s ministry
Tags: Chenoa Stock
Tags: 10 women, agents of spiritual, agents of spiritual photosynthesis, chenoa, chenoa stock, chenoa stock's ministry, god's creation, heart and mind, pastor leopoldo, planted, planted seeds, seeds, seeds of hope, spiritual photosynthesis, stock's ministry, streets of ferguson, time, u.s, u.s congregations, women