While Logos Hope is in Uruguay for her period of annual maintenance, non-technical crewmembers have spread out inland in Latin America and beyond. A team of four volunteers has travelled to Peru, to partner with Christian outreaches and community initiatives. In this article, the team’s leader, Rosemary Rheeders (South Africa) reports on her experience with a pastor who shares the love of God in a challenging school:
“We were shocked to learn that 40% of the pupils’ parents are involved with drug trafficking and violence, and at least one parent per household is in prison. The children's mindset seems to have already accepted that, by the age of 17, they will be in jail too. This stunned us.
Four years ago, the school appointed a new principal and Pastor Renato Antinori was invited to bring his programme to the school. On the first day he was there, the children didn't want to listen to him. They threatened him and then proceeded to rob him; stealing everything he had brought except his computer and speaker. The oldest child in the school was 12 years old.
Pastor Renato did not shout at the students or even try to stop them. He simply told the principal that he would not be back, since all his toys, sweets and equipment had been stolen. The headmistress was so impressed by the way he handled the situation that she replied, 'Please come back next Thursday' – so he did. I think I would have run for the hills!
Over time, the children have calmed down and now they love the pastor’s visits. Their response to this programme is nothing short of a miracle. Seeing them interact with him amazed me, considering their history. He has persevered and God has worked wonders in the hearts of many of these young people. This is clear to me that God's love always overcomes evil.
The pastor and his wife work in nine schools, reaching out to thousands of children each week. They run the Peruvian branch of Metro World Child, an international ministry that teaches Biblical values and introduces young people to Jesus. It was our privilege to join their visit to this school; telling the kids how we serve God on board a ship and sharing some of our experiences.
We pray for these young people to be protected from the negative influences around them, that they may come to know the Lord personally and that they will find and fulfil the God-given purpose for their lives.
We praise God for Pastor Renato and his wife, Irma, and were blessed by their example of faithful service and trusting the Lord for all their needs.”