John: The Bible encourages us to pray that the Word of God would run ahead of us and be glorified. And I think of that verse by the Apostle Paul whenever we set out anywhere in the world. Today, our coworker, Jeannie Peria, has set off for Columbia then to Bolivia. I just wanted her to be able to join us on this blog so that we can all pray that the Word of God would run and be glorified. Jeannie has been with us for about 6 or 7 years, I think. But we have known each other for about 17 or 18 years now. Jeanie has a book called Conquered, which tells her personal story about how the Lord converted her and saved her soul. It talks about her transformation from running an abortion facility that her mother had opened some years ago into a pregnancy help center in Miami today.
So it is a great metaphor for the journey from death to life, and Jeanie travels all over the world to bring the good news to the broken-hearted, especially over abortion and to train people for the work of rescuing mothers and babies. With that introduction, Jeannie, tell everybody a little bit about where you are today and why you are there.
Jeannie: I am Jeannie Pernia, the leader of Latin America operations that is reporting, today, from Bogota, Columbia. I arrived Friday to unite with my two other colleagues. Anderson Ocampo and Nadu Reamadine. They have invited us here to one of the churches that is in the Association of Christian Churches here in Columbia.
They had done a pro-life three day event in which I will participate. On Saturday I will be sharing the importance of speaking life to the pastors and helping them understand how the first connection with so many people in church would help women and families understand that they would have a good foundation. If, at any moment, either their family came in contact with a crisis or someone that they knew had a crisis, they would know how to respond to the crisis of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
John: Okay. So you are basically helping the pastors be good shepherds.
Jeannie: That’s correct, John. Anderson also had an opportunity to speak to the churches as a pastor. And our dear Nadu was able to speak to the commission of the families explaining the importance. So that was our full day on Saturday. Many, many people were watching online.
In Bogota you find that the churches, obviously in the big cities, are a little bit more resistant, but those pastors and leaders that needed to be there were there. And we had just an exciting, full day of pro-life teaching.
John: All right. And what about now? What are you doing in the next couple of days?
Jeannie: Well, I have had the opportunity of creating an after abortion healing Bible study. We’ve been planning this out for over a year. John, when you and I came to Tunjas and we came across a pastor and his wife that had made the decision to open up a pregnancy help clinic right there in Tunjas. She was able to get together five other women that would be joining her and going through their own grief and pain of their own prior experience with abortion.
John: And then are these people then going to be the future workers in the pregnancy center?
Jeannie: Absolutely. That is why they’re answering the call and why it’s so important for them first to heal their own deep wounds, perhaps many don’t even recognize they have, John.
John: Yeah, I think, one thing I would just add is this: in my 33 years of experience, right from the very beginning of opening the first pregnancy center up there in Boston, it was the women who could give a personal experience of abortion who, once healed over that in, (in other words, they weren’t counseling to try to make up for what they did or anything like that) they found the freedom and the grace of God which made them the most powerful counselors. And I know you have seen the same thing in Cuba and other places. So now you are going to see the same group of women come together, experience God’s healing, and then begin a pregnancy center?
Jeannie: That is correct. I think this is the element that they are waiting for. They are just getting their team ready. You know, it’s important, when you walk into a crisis counseling session, oftentimes what you are doing is you are seeking to heal yourself through that other woman. And we clearly know that there’s only one Savior and it’s not us. We set the table. We let them understand that there is grace and mercy and we want them to choose what their heart would dictate them to choose. So it’s exciting to be a part of this, for me, because the transformation is just so noticeable. Literally right from the moment that they arrive to the moment that they leave two and a half days later, there is a genuine, deep set healing that takes place. And, oftentimes, I say there’s a scar, but it doesn’t hurt anymore.
John: Yeah. Tremendous! And then you are going to turn around and come home? Is that the idea?
Jeannie: Oh, I wish I could say that, John, but no, I’m off and running. We are off and running to Bolivia. This is an experimental first time visit through the Commission of the Association of Evangelical Alliance under the Commission of Human Dignity and Family. Our Dear Nadu has invited us to five churches, John. We’re going to be speaking and moving and speaking. We are going to Santa Cruz, La Paz, Sucre, Cochabamba, which I’m hoping to see someone that you and I met here in Columbia who now lives in Cochabamba, and El Prado. So there’s five cities. We’ll be arriving on the 8th of August. We are also bringing, alongside Anderson to help him right now in his teaching of the four questions, our good friend Pastor Raul Reyes. So there are actually four of us that will be doing this tour in Bolivia.
John: So you are going to be training pastors and leaders in five different cities in Bolivia for the first time. Introducing them to the four questions that eventually will lead to the churches starting their pregnancy help ministries in their town.
Jeannie: That is what we’re out to do. Yes, John.
John: Okay. And when are you coming home?
Jeannie: I’ll be home on the 15th of August. Almost 18 days out of my home.
John: Okay. Well, this is our first time in Bolivia. We were in Honduras for the first time. We were in Argentina for the first time, and a lot of this is happening because of these national and Latin American organizations of evangelical churches inviting us in. And so a network, a trust, a camaraderie is opening up throughout all of Latin America. Thank you Jeannie for going down there and leading the team there. Our job is to remember Paul’s words to the Thessalonians “Pray that the word would speed ahead and be glorified,” meaning I think that even before you get there, God prepares the people to be open to the clear teaching of the word that transforms and energizes and sustains from the shame and the guilt to the desire to answer the call to rescue.
So that’s going to be our prayer every day. And I invite our readers to join us in that prayer, and then, hopefully, you will be able to come back and tell us what happened.
Jeannie: I’ll look forward to that. This is our exploratory, which oftentimes just allows us to start the spark and see how God will make it into a flame. We’re led by the Holy Spirit.
John: Light the match and we’ll see where the wind blows. Okay, well thanks for joining us down there and may the Lord give you an extra sweet time with those four or five women who are going to experience the transforming power of God’s grace this week.
Jeannie: Amen. Thank you, John. God bless.
John: So thank you everyone. That’s a peek into what’s going on right now in Latin America, in Columbia and Bolivia. As you know, we were in Honduras last week. There are a lot of things opening up in Latin America which is very exciting. God bless you all. If you want to read Jeannie’s personal story of being conquered by the grace of God, you can get this book Conquered at Amazon or you can get a PDF version of it on our website at passionlife.org. I think it’s one of the most exciting stories out there today, and it really points to the glory and the transforming power of God in our lives. So I commend this little book to you.