A few months ago while I was praying for God to expand His kingdom in Peru, I was convicted of how little I knew of the language groups, especially among the unreached. So I went to the Joshua Project website and found out that the two largest unreached people groups were just to the north and south of us in Trujillo. Since the Quechuas from Inca Wasi were closer to Trujillo, several Peruvians and I decided to investigate there first. The only information I could find on the internet was that (1) there are 22,000 in this language group, (2) only portions of the Scriptures had been translated, and (3) as of several years ago there is one evangelical church. So off we went! We were a perfect number of 7, venturing on a perfect mission to investigate the status of the Quechuas of Lambayeque.
Upon arriving to Inca Wasi, we encountered a group of men sloshy drunk at 10:00 am. We went into the Bus Station, and one of the first things I saw was a calender with Matthew 25:35 in Quechua: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” My heart leaped for joy! Shortly after I quickly learned that two missionary families had lived in Inca Wasi for 15 years and translated the New Testament. I had no idea! Praise the Lord for their labor! What a privilege to observe a community who had just received the NT three years ago!
Pastor Jaime had been given the contact of a local Peruvian missionary, Trinidad de los Ángeles, or Trino for short. So our first priority was to find Trino. We found him leading a workshop for the four local evangelical churches. Afterward, he took us to his home, which was the former house of Wycliffe translators. There he showed us the brand new New Testament in Quechua of Lambayeque. Trino had come from the coast 25 years ago and worked along the Wycliffe missionaries. He had sacrificed a married life in order to reach the Quechuas. My immediate impression of Trino was a Peruvian version of Paul; celibate, godly, knowledgeable, joyful apostle to the Quechuas.
He also shared with us about the culture of the people from Inca Wasi and their unique challenges for the gospel. For one, 100% of the men are polygamous, often marrying sisters of the same family. This includes men in the church. It is not uncommon for one husband to have four to five wives. Thus, Trino really stands out in the community. The other challenge is that most men are alcoholics, explaining why so many men were wasted upon our arrival.
For Sandi and I, we feel as if we are coming full circle. Almost 10 years ago, while I was in seminary, we prayed about being translators with Wycliffe. Through a series of conversations with the Wycliffe staff, we realized that my giftedness and talents resided in other areas of cross-culture ministry. However, we came away from our year of investigation with a great desire to follow up a translation one day and began to pray towards that end. And now here we are, three years after the completion of the New Testament in Inca Wasi!
I still have much to process and pray about concerning our responsibility concerning the people of Inca Wasi. Two important lessons stand out from our trip:
- The Power of the Scriptures. It was incredible to observe the effect the new Scriptures were having on people that had not ever had the Bible in their mother tongue. This is an ancient people with very old customs. This is a very poor people with few resources, with few pastors, and yet the church is growing! We had heard of only one Christian witness, but we confirm that there are now four Christian churches. The Roman Catholic church is basically shut down because there are not priests who speak the language. For sure the churches need help, nevertheless it was amazing to witness the raw power of God’s Word unleashed on a culture! Click here to see pictures from the dedication service in 2005.
- The Providence of God in Child Rearing. One of the Bible translators, Dwight Shaver, had grown up in Peru as a missionary kid of Wycliffe translators. God had been preparing Dwight since his infancy as he learned a variant form of Quechua. I have not yet had the privilege to talk with Dwight yet, but I hope to get his full story soon. God does not waste one aspect of our child rearing!