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‘Being a Christian is so much more than listening to a preacher every Sunday’

Every Tribe, Every Tongue

‘Being a Christian is so much more than listening to a preacher every Sunday’
Posted on October 27, 2019  - By Elizabeth Abraham

Crystal Carillo serves the Lord in Ferreñafe, Peru, together with her husband Luis. They are involved in working with the youngsters, and have been very encouraged to see seven of them were baptised over the past year. The duo host a weekly kid’s club at their home, and Crystal works with the women too, organising several one-on-one or small group Bible studies to help them grow in their walk with the Lord.

Tell us about your journey of faith.

I grew up in a Christian home, and received the Lord as my Saviour at a very young age. When I was about eight years old, I started to have some doubts and fears about the truth of the Bible, and I wasn’t sure that it could be trusted. My parents gave me some cassette tapes of a preacher who spoke about the scientific evidence that supports creation. I was then able to trust in the Bible as the Word of God, knowing that if the first chapters were true, the rest were too.

The church I grew up in had many missionaries visiting and sharing about the work they did in different parts of the world. I always loved listening to their reports, and hoped to one day serve the Lord in a different country. When I was 18, I went on my first mission trip with Operation Mobilization, living on a ship (the Logos 2) for two months. I loved every minute of it and knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I got home, I enrolled in Kawartha Lakes Bible College for a one-year programme.

While there, my doubts about the Bible returned during a class called Christian Worldview. We looked at all the major religions of the world and compare them to Christianity, but I couldn’t help thinking: how is it possible that we are the only ones with the truth and everyone else is lost? I wanted to believe with all my heart what I had been taught as a kid, but I just couldn’t shake off my doubts. I prayed without ceasing for two weeks asking God to help me see the truth and take my doubts away from me — but the doubts remained. I realised I was asking for the wrong thing; God was asking me to trust Him. At the end of two weeks, I finally gave in and changed my prayer. I said, “Lord, I believe in you; please forgive my unbelief.” In that instant, all my doubts were gone, and they have yet to return. The Lord gave me a certainty in my spirit that everything I learned from His word was the truth, that He is the one and only God. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” We can be sure of the truth because He gives us the Spirit of truth.

What advice can you offer any of our readers who may be struggling with their faith about whether the Bible can be trusted?

There is a lot of information out there, so my best advice is to start reading and investigating; do your research, and pray that God will open your eyes to the truth. I found the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel helpful, as it does a good job in showing why the Bible can be trusted. Other resources are the Answers in Genesis website (www.answersingenesis.org), which has loads of information about evidence for creation, and Living Waters (www.livingwaters.com) which has put out a bunch of videos, interviewing atheists and evolutionists.

How did the Lord call you to minister in Peru? 

My road to Peru was a long one. I started by serving on a missionary ship in the Caribbean, then went back to Canada, serving in my local church, then on to Africa and finally, Ecuador, visiting missionary friends. I have always been interested in South America, but though my church mentioned a school in Peru, I felt it wasn’t time to leave just yet, as my Bible studies at home were going strong.

Two years later, I felt like it was time, and took a short trip to India for a month. There, the Lord spoke to me like never before, showing me all the things that I needed to change in my life. I had become very attached to my possessions over the years. I had a motorcycle and a brand-new jeep. I bought everything I wanted. I fell in love with India and was sure that was where the Lord wanted me to be. So, when I got home, I sold my Jeep, got rid of all the excess in my life, and started living more for the Lord. I took a ‘Teaching English as a Second Language’ course and started learning Tamil. But when I wrote to my contacts in India, their response was not at all what I expected. They were only interested in having me serve with them for three months.

I was confused. I prayed and fasted, seeking the Lord’s will. He told me, “Crystal, where you serve me really isn’t all that important, I just want you to serve me wherever you are.” What a relief that answer was to me. I continued serving in my church till one day in March 2014, my mom reminded me of the school and children’s home in Peru my church had mentioned. I wrote to the missionary in charge and within two hours, he’d written back, saying: “Yes, we want you”! A month later, I was on a plane to Peru and took up a post teaching English at the school. When the school closed in 2017, I decided to stay and continue working with the women, and my ministry morphed into what it is today.

For those of us who need to make important life decisions, what are some things we can do when we get discouraged while waiting on the Lord for direction?

My advice is to keep serving wherever you are. The Lord has put you where you are for a reason. Devote yourself to studying His word and to prayer. The 10 years of waiting that I underwent was my training ground. I have also found that separating time to pray and fast has been helpful for me, as it allowed me to get alone time with Lord, without any distractions. Remember: His ways are not our ways, His timing is different from ours, but He is always right and His timing is always perfect (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Tell us about the people you minister to. 

I work with a local church in Ferreñafe, Peru — mostly with women and children. In this part of Peru, there is a strong Catholic influence, and I have observed that most Christians are content with just going to church. That is the extent of their Christian walk — but being a Christian is so much more than listening to a preacher every Sunday. My desire is help equip and encourage the women to become active members in the church, and in sharing the gospel in their communities.

God has called us to give our lives to Him. Matthew 16:24-26 says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Romans 12:1-2 says we need to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord. When we understand what Christ has done for us, it is easier to give ourselves to Him. Being an integral part of the local body of Christ starts with developing a personal relationship with the Lord. It’s what helps us serve our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

What are the challenges you face in your mission field?

The majority of the youngsters we work with do not come from Christian homes and, therefore, do not have support from home to live a God-honoring life. Drunkenness and partying are a huge part of the culture here. It is very discouraging to see people who hardly have enough to make ends meet, wasting their money on these things; husbands drinking away their pay cheques instead of taking care of their families. Infidelity is also very common, as well as abuse. There are so many teenage pregnancies, and the majority of marriages are the result of a pregnancy. There are very few good examples for the young people to follow so, encouraging them to walk with the Lord is a major challenge.

How do you and your husband help those struggling with drunkenness, partying and sexual immorality?

Through discipleship and prayer. We try and set a good example for them, we pray for them, and we teach them God’s Word. I encourage them to develop their personal relationship with the Lord. 1 John 5:3 says that we know we love the Lord when we obey His commandments and they are not difficult for us to obey. Obedience to God is a direct result of our relationship with Him and the love we have for Him. When they make mistakes, we try and help them see the error of their ways and get right with God again. I try to be honest with them about my own failures and what the Lord has taught me through them.

What has the Lord taught you recently?

One of the most challenging situations I face is when newly professing Christians slip back into their sin, and refuse to leave their old habits behind. It is hard to see people recognise their sin, but refuse to do anything about it. I want to shake them and ask them to wake up and see what they are missing, the peace and joy that they are losing, but at the end of the day, everyone must make their own decision. As much as it might pain us, we cannot make anyone submit their lives completely to the Lord. It is hard, sometimes, to let go and admit that there is nothing more I can do, but God is the only one who can change hearts. So, I’m learning that, beyond a point, sometimes, all we can do is pray for people, and entrust them into His hands.

How can we pray for you?

Pray for strength and wisdom for Luis and I as we live out our lives as an example to those around us. Pray for the church here in Ferreñafe, that we can all grow in our faith and use our gifts to edify the church here. Pray for our kid’s club, that the children will come to know the Lord, and that we will be able to reach out to their families as well. Pray for the youth, that they will be able to walk with the Lord, and not fall into temptation like so many who have gone before them, that they will be strong and will live for Him.

Elizabeth Abraham

About Elizabeth Abraham

Elizabeth Abraham — or Elsa, as she is usually known — has lived in the Lone Star State of Texas for most of her life, where she works as a physician assistant. From teaching preschoolers at Sunday school and mentoring younger sisters in Christ to conversing with co-workers and caring for elderly nursing home patients, her desire is to know the Lord and make Him known.



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