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A Legacy of Blessing

January 28, 2020
by Steve Harling

Boats along the Ucayali River in PeruAs a youngster, Américo Saavedra loved hanging out at his father’s bakery near Pucallpa, Peru. One day, a missionary dropped in to buy some bread. “Have you ever heard about the Bread of Life?” he asked. That act of personal evangelism was the beginning of Américo’s journey of discipleship.

At the beginning of this year, I was with Américo in Pucallpa. The once sleepy town on the banks of the Ucayali River has turned into a bustling harbor city of over 300,000 people. As we wheeled our way across the metro area in motokars (3-wheeled motorcycles with a passenger cage welded on the back), Américo told me all about the missionaries and pastors that had poured into his life. At the various homes, restaurants and churches that we visited, we met with ministry leaders and pastors that Américo is now pouring his life into.

Reflecting back on this trip, I’ve got to say: Américo ‘gets’ disciple-making! His passion for evangelism and mentoring others toward Christlikeness is contagious! For 45 years, Américo and his wife, Kathy, have served as missionaries with Reach Beyond, doing evangelism and discipleship, and training local pastors and national leaders through the Apoyo ministry. Even today, Américo continues to pour into the lives of others for Kingdom impact.

As we kick off another year (and another decade!) at Reach Beyond, it is important to look back at the seeds that were planted before us and see the fruit that God has brought forth. It is equally important to continue planting new seeds, and to send new workers into His harvest field.

Church service in Pucalpa PeruOur theme for this year is “Connecting the Past to the Present.” We want to celebrate what God has done through Reach Beyond. We are proud of the legacy we have inherited – to boldly follow God and proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel where Jesus is least known. We want to help unreached people everywhere hear about Jesus, see Him in action, and learn how to follow Him.

At the same time, we are excited for the way God is currently leading Reach Beyond. Many things have changed over the years in how we do ministry, but some things are still the same. We may have new people, new ideas, and new technologies, but we have the same commissioning: to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 ESV)

Community has played an important role in our ministry, and continues to play in reaching the unreached. As Clarence Jones said, “We cannot do our work alone. We must do it together, and we must do it as colleagues.” This is as true today as it was at the beginning of our ministry. We cannot do it alone. We must do this together, with each of us contributing our skills, our time, our resources and our prayers.

Just like Américo, we have received a blessing as followers of Christ. And, just like Américo, we have an opportunity (and an obligation) to pour out that blessing so the next generation will know Him. How are you going to be a blessing this year?