Mission trip to Peru planned

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 20, 2006

For several members of First Presbyterian Church, their message will go much further than the church’s North Strawberry Street location.

Thirteen members of the congregation are currently preparing for a mission trip to Huanta, Peru from March 18 through 25.

Youth Pastor Doug McNutt, who is helping organize the trip, said the town is a lot like Demopolis in relation to size. He said when they arrive they will meet up with a native missionary to guide them.

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“It is a smaller town, a little bigger than Demopolis up in the Andes Mountains,” McNutt said. “We will be visiting a missionary there that is with the Mission to the World group and is all through them.”

The missionary, Gerry Gutierrez, has an interesting story to tell. He was once a member of the communist movement in Peru before he met a missionary. The missionary changed his life and later became his wife. Now, the pair escorts other mission groups through the country.

Dr. Erik P. Lessmann, who plans to join the group, said he is extremely excited about the trip.

“I am really excited because this will be my first non-medical mission trip,” Lessmann said. “I have been to Venezuala, Ecuador and Moscow before, but those were all medical trips. I think this trip will focus more on the missionary side of things.”

During the trip, McNutt said, the group will have a chance to get their hands dirty while they construct a new church and work with locals.

“We are going to be building a new church to branch out from the main church down there,” McNutt said. “We will build the building for the church and also vacation Bible schools and sports ministries for the kids.”

The goals for the trip are simple, McNutt said. They want to help as many people as they can and provide a positive message.

“I think the main goal of this group is to encourage the church down there by their faith,” McNutt said. “We want to help through physical ministries like building a church, but there are also the kids ministries to be an encouragement to them.”

The trip is about much more than giving, McNutt said. It is a chance for participants to learn about themselves.

“While we are down there we also want to receive just as much as we give,” McNutt said. “It is a very mutual thing, it is not a one way thing on either side. I think the purpose is to encourage them in their faith and have them encourage us in our faith.”

Lessmann said this is a big reason why he chooses to go on these trips.

“You always want to make a difference, but a lot of times I come back changed,” Lessmann said. “I always come back changed and that is why I look forward to these trips.”

McNutt said he expects the trip to open a lot of cultural barriers.

“I think we will realize the universality of God’s church through different cultures,” McNutt said. “I think we will see a lot of hearts transformed as we go along between our group and the people we meet down there.”