We believe in a church-to-church model for global missions, which allows us to focus our resources on a targeted people group to effectively spread the Gospel. Grace Church is unique in the fact that we have targeted the Shawi people group in the Amazon jungle as our global mission field and we focus 80-90% of our support and efforts there. We have made a commitment to the Shawi in this regard. Our goal is to reach the entire tribe, 35,000-50,000 people, with the gospel in our lifetime. God is doing an incredible work there!
How we got to Peru
In 1997, Pastor Rick Long, Pastor Jim Malouff and another pastor from Grace planned a trip to the Amazon Rain Forest. The first trip began the work of church-to-church missions between Grace and Peru. During this first trip, they saw many Shawi become believers in Jesus Christ and get baptized. They made a commitment to three Shawi missionaries to support and partner with them as they went out to reach the indigenous throughout the jungle.
Who are the Shawi
The Shawi people are one of the larger people groups in the northern part of the Peruvian Amazon jungle. They are known for their friendliness, generosity, and laughter. They lead simple, but very difficult lives. They are farmers and hunters. Their diet consists mostly of plaintain, yucca, fish and chicken. They generally live in villages of around 150 people, but there are several larger villages. Most villagers have lost family members to disease, dehydration, drowning in the treacherous river, venomous snakebites, infected insect bites and ulcers. In the last 40 years, the government has built schools in the Shawi communities. The new educational system has opened the doors to many more opportunities for the Shawi people. This has also created a need for money to buy school supplies, books and uniforms. They depend on the money from their harvest and float it down the rivers to the cities to be sold. Some raise cattle or sheep and are developing crops to sell such as coffee and chocolate.
The current work in Peru
We have made a long-term commitment to pour into the Shawi people, so that every Shawi hears the clear Gospel in their own language within our lifetime. We currently offer full support to 2 American missionaries from Grace Church, who live and serve in Peru as well as 6 Shawi missionaries. Together they work as one team to establish purpose driven churches throughout the Shawi territory. Our missionary team works closely with the Shawi Christian missionaries, to encourage them spiritually and theologically as they travel throughout the Amazon.
- We have recently begun to host a Grace Church Annual Conference along with a Youth Conference in the summertime. We have over 300 people participate with many of the pastors attending. We stress the gospel, eternal security and how to grow a Purpose Driven church.
- We participate in an Annual conference in January where over 500 Shawi, including 43 Shawi pastors and their families, from throughout the Amazon, attend to receive Biblical education, encouragement in their faith, and help with their ministry.
- Our team develops curriculum and trainings for the Shawi missionaries to take out to the pastors in the villages.
- Currently we work within 6 areas of the Shawi jungle. We are praying to grow our missionary team to 12 Shawi missionaries to be able to cover all 6 areas of the jungle, so that more Shawi will hear the Gospel and come to know Jesus Christ.
- We are working alongside our Shawi brothers to establish the Shawi Bible Institute (IBESH) and create more curriculum. We would also like to add life skills such as animal husbandry, carpentry and business courses to the program.
- Once a year, usually 3 villages host a regional Bible course where Shawi pastors will lead this time for growth in knowledge and faith to new believers in the surrounding communities.
- The team also responds to medical emergencies, and assists with building projects.
- Due to Grace Church having such a strong church-to-church partnership in Peru, the team also hosts short-term mission trips to build ongoing relationships between the Shawi and Grace Church through volunteer work.
- Grace Church missionaries are considered the “Shawi Missionaries” to other ministries helping indigenous people groups. Our team has connected these ministries to the Shawi so they can benefit from their resources as well, such as: water filters, Scripture recordings in Shawi, “Son of God” movie dubbed in Shawi, digging of wells, and Bible audio players sent out to villages.
What we have seen God do in Peru
Throughout the years, we have seen God work in miraculous ways. Currently, there are 43 pastors and 28 churches throughout the Amazon jungle. As of 2019, we have baptized over 500 new Shawi believers.
- We celebrate the completion of the Bible in Shawi, which our missionaries were able to assist in seeing come to life. We have worked on projects like getting recordings of Scripture to the Shawi, which they can listen to on their cellphones.
- It is a remarkable ministry to be able to partner long-term with the Shawi and to have Shawi missionaries, who we can support and consider full time staff. They are changing the direction of their people group by the Word of God and are teaching what it means to be a Purpose Driven church. The Shawi are encouraged now and the churches are growing.
- The Shawi missionaries are reaching many new communities. Since 2017, there are 12 new communities that want a church but lack a pastor. We are setting up courses for the men that God is calling. We are very encouraged by the desire of these people growing in their faith.
- Grace Church worked alongside the Shawi to establish the Instituto Biblico Envagelico de Shawi (IBESH) – the first Shawi Bible Institute. It is a Bible institute in Shawi, for Shawi by Shawi teachers to prepare and send out the next generation of Shawi pastors. We have celebrated our first 3 students graduating from the program. All 3 are currently working in the ministry and one is now serving as President of the Association of Evangelical Shawi churches.
- We own property, which provides a safe place for our missionaries to live and a safe haven for Shawi to visit. We hope to expand it to include a training facility for Shawi people and a team house for short-term trips.