by Wilser & Nicole Cacho-Hansen
Wilser and Nicole (USA) serve in discipleship and evangelism, training leaders and youth.
Cajamarca is a colonial city with about 135,000 people,1 located in a high valley, at an elevation of about 9,000ft, in the northern Andes Mountains of Peru. It is famous for being the place where the Incan Empire first met the Spanish and where the Spanish defeated and killed the last Incan emperor.2 Cajamarca, where we live, is the capital of our department (region), which is home to about 1.3 million people and is one of the poorest areas in Peru.3 The people here are very open to the gospel.
There is an interesting mix of traditional and modern in our city since many people moved here from the countryside, where the living standards, customs and culture are distinct from those of people who grew up in the city. Our church in Cajamarca reflects this reality.
Equipping National Believers
Our local church, Iglesia Cristiana Vida, located in the south of Cajamarca, began 19 years ago, in June 2003. More than 100 adults are in fellowship, and about 45 children and youth attend too. Over the years, the Lord has raised up elders, Bible study leaders, preachers and teachers to continue the work and teams to serve practical needs, including ministries for children, youth, couples and college students. He also formed teams, comprised of believers from our church, that spread the gospel and plant churches in different parts of our region.
It would be impossible for us to do the work on our own, so we dedicate a lot of time to training national believers in the city and countryside. Nicole provides sound study materials and Sunday school curricula for children and young people and Wilser creates material for evangelism and discipleship. We also teach others how to plan and organise, and slowly give over responsibilities until the believers are able to do the work on their own or in a team.
‘And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also’
(2 Tim. 2:2).
Evangelising Family & Friends
The gospel first spread in Cajamarca through people believing and then inviting missionaries to accompany them to visit farming communities so they could share the good news with their friends and family. Family is important in Cajamarca, so sharing the gospel with the believers’ friends, families and neighbours is the most effective way to reach out.
Currently, our church hosts 12 Bible studies in homes around the city. They serve two purposes: to strengthen the believers in their faith and to spread the gospel. Many people who might avoid an evangelical church are open to attending a Bible study in the home of a friend, neighbour or family member.
We develop friendships with new people at the Bible studies and then we share the gospel with them. If new people show an interest, we invite them to a one-to-one evangelistic study or a small group – sharing the gospel at every opportunity. If they place their faith in the Lord, someone will study the basics of the Christian faith with them and help prepare them for baptism.
Wilser has dedicated a lot of time to writing two discipleship courses, one for use with seekers in the city and another for believers to use in the countryside. Pray that the church in Cajamarca will increase in number and maturity with the Lord’s help and that God will continue to use Iglesia Cristiana Vida to reach the lost.
Spreading the Gospel Through Teamwork
Currently, our church’s outreach teams share the gospel, plant churches and train others in four mission points within the region. Pray for these communities, each with unique needs, and for the teams, which visit most weeks. Pray that the Lord will raise up local leaders to do the work and firmly establish churches.
Chilete – Chilete is located in the Jequetepeque Valley, which extends all the way to the coast. About 2,000 people reside in this town and a lot of travellers pass through on their way to other small towns.4 The transportation and farming industries produce many work opportunities.
Chilete has an established church, which struggled for years until a believer, Zeila, began working at the local hospital and ministering to children and young people. She is key to reaching out to others. Her husband and oldest daughter came to faith in Jesus and both were baptised in December 2022. As this church is becoming self-sufficient, a team from Cajamarca visits once a month to provide support and encouragement. Pray for Zeila and her family and that the Lord will raise up more local believers to take on leadership roles.
Río Seco – This small farming community, known as a caserío (hamlet), has about 185 homes and 585 people.5 After four years of our teams visiting Río Seco, we paused the ministry for a time, due, in part, to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Lord continued to work and now seven baptised believers are being discipled every week. The owner decided to sell the building they use, so our church is working to buy it. Visiting teams reach out to children, young people and adults every week. Pray that the church in Río Seco will keep growing.
San Pablo – In the 1960s, the gospel was first preached to approximately 13,600 people living in the mountainous countryside of the district. Over time, believers, national workers and missionaries from the coast and from Cajamarca formed many churches and trained people. Since 2007, believers from San Pablo have been planning Bible training and activities each year. They ask for Wilser’s help with finding teachers, study materials and support for different activities. Wilser also trains teachers from this area.
To date, there are 24 churches in San Pablo. Some struggle more than others; one problem is that some of the churches embrace false doctrines, such as the prosperity gospel, which leads to false teaching and practices. We have strong ties and fellowship with 16 of these churches, most of which are in small farming communities. Pray the Lord will use these churches to strengthen the other churches and that He will raise up local workers who can dedicate their time to that goal.
To multiply the work in the city of Cajamarca, the Lord is leading us to plant a church on the east side of Cajamarca, in a growing part of the city. The vision is to start churches of about 80 people where they can fellowship, live their faith in a family environment with opportunities to serve and contact the community through personal evangelism and outreach. It is fitting that Iglesia Cristiana Vida commended one of its elders as a full-time worker on its 20th anniversary. Over the last year and a half, we have been preparing to start this new work. We left with their blessing and Wilser trained everyone in the team of 16 believers, who will join us in planting a church in the Campo Real neighbourhood. We now have a prayer meeting on Thursday nights, a few home Bible studies and in August we plan to begin meeting on Sunday mornings in Campo Real as a church.
Pray for Iglesia Cristiana Vida as other believers take up the key roles that we have left. Pray for the church-planting team, that the Lord would draw people from the neighbourhood to Himself and that many believers would be added to the family of God. Pray also that the Lord would provide for all the practical needs we have as a new church and for unity among the believers as we make this transition, and as the two churches continue to work together in various mission outreaches.