From Knowing About Christ to Knowing Christ: Church Planting in Cusco

By Scott Dillon, Jan 31, 2019

A few weeks ago, I returned from a visit to Cusco, Peru, where we serve long term when not on home ministry assignment. A good friend and national partner, Hugo, picked me up from the airport and we immediately engaged in catching up with each other about our lives and ministry. I asked him, “How is church ministry going?”

He replied, “Good. Calm. With lots of problems.” We both laughed at the peculiar dichotomy represented in in his reply. How could the ministry be doing well and tranquilo yet be marked by lots of problems? Yet I knew what he meant—church planting is simultaneously challenging and rewarding.

Church planting in Cusco, like many places in Latin America, can seem to some like a misuse of resources. The Catholic Church’s influence since the conquest of the Americas in the 16th century has proliferated a religious culture centered around the person of Jesus. People know who Christ is and they know that He died for their sins on a cross. They even know that they should be baptized and repent of their sins. So, what is left for the missionary to proclaim?

An awkward inquiry
This past year I had a membership interview lunch with one of our new candidates for baptism, Guadalupe. She is a sweet and reserved young woman with an infectious smile. Usually these interviews involve some simple questions to confirm the person understands the gospel, the sign of baptism, and the importance of church membership. However, for some strange reason, I went in a new direction with her interview and said, “Why don’t I pretend to be a non-Christian and you try to tell me about Jesus?”

The second the words left my mouth, I realized all of the cultural norms that I had broken in putting her on the spot. And what’s worse, she is a very quiet person and new Christian. Who was I to assume she had become the Latina Billy Graham overnight? What had I done to this poor girl? Was I expecting way too much? She just wanted to be baptized and there I was laying on her an expectation of seminary-level evangelistic prowess.

She sat across from me staring at her soup while the seconds that went by were eternities of my own punishment for having forced her into an uncomfortable situation. I could feel my own heart slowly sink to my feet as I suffered the weight of my demands on this quiet and reserved young lady. Meanwhile she just stared back at that soup as if it were going to give her a list of keywords to throw back at the pastor. As I laid out my plan of what to say to get us out of this mess, she looked up and spoke.

An eloquent response
She talked for quite a while which was really surprising for this young lady. In fact, in those four minutes I heard more words from her than in the entire year that I had known her. She spoke about how she came to know the church, her community, and how through the community of faith she became reconciled with the Father. She emphasized her need for intimacy and honor, for her being brought into a new family, and for the joy that she now experiences even though all of the situations of her life have not changed.

It was beautiful and eloquent. It was refreshing and inspiring. As I sat there and listened, I realized that her momentary pause was only to form her own thoughts and testimony. She painted an unquestionably raw and glorious image of the reconciled relationship we receive when Christ comes into our lives, our families, and our homes. His sacrifice paid a ransom for us and will bring us home. We are brought into a new tribe and a new family. I was in awe at every word she said and held back tears the entire time. She spoke from the heart of what she has experienced knowing Christ, but she forgot one thing.

I responded to her, “Lupe, you forgot to mention that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.” Her head returned to that downward position toward the soup and I quickly tried to recover a potential second failure by saying, “No, it’s okay. In fact, it’s great. Your ability to express your faith in a real and precise way was so refreshing for me.”

The cross and the relationship
Her response reminded me of why we do missions in Latin America. Everyone knows Jesus died on the cross for sins. However, we often mistakenly reduce Jesus’ death to a mere transaction of goods where we’re given the “go free” gesture by some apathetic judge who is strangely willing to punish his own son for our foolishness. When we see that the Judge wants the same intimacy with us that he shares with His Son and that we’re called out of the dysfunctional communities of this life into a better family, we begin to see the gospel with our heart and not just our mind. The good news speaks of more than just a payment for sin, but also of adoption and of a new identity.

I will never forget my interaction with Lupe that day. She was baptized and received as a new member that following Sunday and has been following after her new Father ever since. In a land where the vast majority of people know of Christ, she knows the Christ. Her circumstances in so many ways remain the same, but she has a hope and peace about the future. Just as my national friend Hugo summarized the ministry, our lives can be full of problems and chaos, but we’re part of a better community that awaits our full redemption in heaven. In Christ, we are reconciled with our Father in heaven who made everything out of nothing. Imagine what He can do with chaos.

Scott Dillon serves with MTW as the Cusco team leader and the Peru country director.  

Please login to continue
Forgot your password?
Recover it here.
Don't have an account?
Create an Account
Sign Up for Free
Choose Password
Confirm Password


Youth Ministry Leaders
Member Care Coordinator: Americas
Next Generation Missionaries to the Muslim World
1–11 Months

Discovering a Hidden Quechua Church

A 1960s radio ministry became the catalyst for a 200-church denomination.


My Prayer Journey to Cusco

Last year MTW's Hispanic RADD team took a vision trip to Peru and emerged with a renewed focus on the importance of prayer in missions.


Contextual Generosity: An MTW Missionary Team Navigates Giving in Peru

Wherever possible we invite nationals to serve nationals through the structures and ministries of the local church.


Pray for church planting efforts in Cusco, Peru, where many know about Christ, but few know Him personally.

Pray for Radio Amauta and its efforts to help train leaders in the Quechua Church in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

Pray for the children and staff of The Josephine House in Cusco, Peru. The orphanage is currently home to 18 children, many with special needs. 

Pray for the success of a new laser surgery business as missions ministry in Cusco, Peru, giving sight to those who need it most.

Pray for our ministry in Cusco, Peru, as they put MTW values into action among the Quechua through the church, a medical clinic, discipling medical students, an orphanage, and community outreach.

Pray for the church plant and medical clinic in Cusco, Peru. Pray that believers would grow in Christ and catch a vision for reaching their city.

Pray for the the Medical Campus Outreach team in Cusco, Peru, and for the medical and students at the clinic who are learning to practice medicine and hearing the gospel.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Last year, a group of MTW RADD-Hispanic leaders went to Peru on a prayer journey vision trip. Pray for continued unity and mobilization efforts of our RADD Hispanic team!

Pray for the national pastors serving in Mexico and Cuba, many of whom are bi-vocational, and the work God is doing among them.


Good news in your inbox, once per week.