My cousin retired form the mission field after 40 years of ministry in Peru. Just before his passing I was blessed to sit with him and pick his brain about his experiences on the mission field; and he had plenty of them.
One story that I remember best began just after his arrival in Peru as a brand new rookie missionary. His contact on the ground was a local energetic church leader that convinced him to take an arduous trek to a certain mountain village. They set out into the mountains on a very difficult hike and climb to the secluded village.
Upon reaching a ridge that overlooked this particular town they noticed it strangely looked more like a ghost town than an active community that he expected. There were no people to be seen, no dogs, donkeys or animals of any kind visible. Upon entering the village the guide began to call to the people and reassure them. Slowly heads began becoming visible in doorways and window openings. After a while there were convinced that there was no danger to them and they all gathered in the street to meet the new missionary. As it turned out, the local church authorities had sent representatives ahead of the men to warn the village people of their arrival and that they would be dangerous to their well being.
It turned out that he had a great visit with these villagers. He built a trust level with them and all was well. There was a particular lady there that had six small children at her side all lined up in stair step array. My cousin loved the people of Peru and he described them in very loving terms.
Now fast forward 40 years. At the close of his ministry the elder missionary was killing some time in a large city while his wife finished some shopping. They were retiring and departing for the States. As he walked down the busy street window shopping, a tall well dressed young man wearing a hat passed him, turned around and said, “Aren’t you a missionary here?” He said yes. The stranger said, “You don’t remember me do you?” To which my cousin responded, “Well I have been a lot of places in the past 40 years, I’m sorry, but I don’t.” The stranger said, “I remember when you came to our mountain village when I was a small boy. Now I am the pastor of that church across the street right there.” Of course it turned out that he was one of those six children of the lady that he had met that first excursion into the mountains.
He was very touched and humbled that God would smile on and complete his ministry there with a confirmation from someone that he had the pleasure to meet and influence so long ago. Now his two sons are carrying on the work in Chile and Peru.