Almost a year ago I met a young man who smiles all the time and draws you into his world immediately after you meet him. He speaks Spanish and very little English–and I can barely understand him [for now]. And yet, in his eyes and his infectious attitude, without a word, I see Jesus.
His name is Edwar Calderon, he’s in his early twenties, and he is one more special young man of God. Edwar lives in Lima, Peru where he works and goes to school. On Friday evenings, he boards a crowded bus to ride all night up into the southern Andes Mountains to Ayacucho, Peru. Then he takes a “taxi” [I call them suicide rides] further up into the mountains where the cliffs along the gravel roadside are sheer and the drop-offs end somewhere in the neighborhood of endless. After nearly 24 hours of riding, he arrives in the town of Pampa Congallo where his parents live late on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, he gets up early and walks to his “preaching points,” some of which are more than seven kilometers from home.
He preaches all day, says hasta luego to his mom, gets back in the taxi, down the mountain to Ayacucho, back on the bus for the hours-long ride back to Lima, gets a few hours sleep on Sunday evening, and shows up for school bright and early on Monday morning.
May I say at this point Edwar is my hero. Why? He has been doing this every weekend for three (3) years, trying to finish his education so that he can spend the rest of his life winning the lost among his people–the Morochucos whose language is Quechua, much different from the Spanish spoken by most other Peruvians.
Edwar is getting married in December of this year. In fact, he has asked me to do a traditional Peruvian wedding ceremony for him and his bride [who, by the way is from Wisconson]. I spent several days with Edwar in early July walking, witnessing, preaching, eating, and sleeping among his people. Edwar told me that while life would be easier if he stayed close to Lima, once he finishes school and is married, he is going to settle in Pampa Congallo. He is building a house there. He said to me, “I will die among my people.”
You see, Edwar’s faith, his walk with God, his spirit-led determination, his smile are all real. They are fueled by the power of the Risen Savior, they are led by His Spirit, and they are grounded in the Word of God. I love this kid. . .he’s younger than my son who is a preacher, but they are a lot alike; single-minded and dedicated to serving God and their families.
One final thing. . .this Sunday we’re taking up a special missions offering to help us help the people in southern Peru. We’re raising money to feed a thousand meals, wash a thousand pairs of feet and put new shoes on them, and buy a thousand bibles to give away–plus we’re going to purchase a brand new 4-wheel drive ATV for Edwar. . .so he can spend more time preaching the Gospel and less time walking.
The young man of God is named Edwar. Would you pray for him? Please?