E-Mail To A Friend
Printer-Friendly Article
Share Your Views
Subscribe To The Witness

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

Couple trades retirement dream for mountain villages of Peru


IMB photo

An elder of the San José de Quero community invites IMB missionary Larry Jackson to bring future volunteer teams to his village, and specifically asks that they share their faith with the community.

Click on image for related coverage

SAN JOSE DE QUERO, Peru (BP)—During quiet moments in his Greensboro, N.C., office, banker Larry Jackson would stare at the walls and say, “God, there has got to be more to life than this.”

Larry assumed he would be spending his retirement on a golf course in Greensboro. But his plans changed eight years ago when he and his wife, Nancy, became church planters in Bolivia. Later they served as prayer coordinators and trainers for the Xtreme Team, young people who take the Gospel to difficult-to-access areas in South America.

While riding in a boat down the Amazon River, he realized, “This is the more-to-life I was thinking about. This is where I’m supposed to be.”

The Jacksons joined the International Mission Board’s Masters Program because they wanted to retire to something worthwhile. Masters missionaries are individuals 50 or older who commit to at least two or three years of overseas service. The Jacksons are serving their third masters term.

Through a program called REAP (Rapid Entry Advance Plan) North, the Jacksons are recruiting churches to adopt people groups who don’t know the true meaning of the name Jesus.

REAP encourages stateside partners—known as strategy coordinator churches—to plant indigenous, self-sufficient bodies of believers among specific people groups. Today more than 25 churches are committed to reaching approximately 15 different groups the Jacksons have researched in northern Peru.

“My job is to introduce them to the people, and that’s when God takes over,” Larry says. He and Nancy are from Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden, N.C.

Using crude maps and car window conversations to make contact with groups such as the Yagua, the Jeberos and the Quechua, the Jacksons accomplish by trial and error what their Google searches cannot. Walking through the dusty streets of a little-known mountain village, they greet shepherds with a quiet smile. Asking questions at a rudimentary clinic, they gather data about the community. Loaded with information, from the number and type of local churches to the accessibility of running water for volunteer teams, they paint a picture of the people and the possibilities for involvement. The Jacksons share this with churches they meet in stateside conferences and others who express interest in a deeper missions commitment.

The Jacksons’ first step is to lead a church on a vision trip. A “Caleb team” from the church visits the people group to take back a report and recommendation. If the church votes to adopt the people group, the Jacksons continue walking alongside them as they begin implementing strategy and taking mission trips as part of a multi-year commitment.

Approximately 90 percent of the churches the Jacksons lead on vision trips choose to make a commitment—some for up to four years—to adopt a people group.

It is a statistic that gives Larry hope. Even with long nights, mind-numbing research and battles with the elements, he is thankful he has traded tee times for the adventure of serving God in South America.

“I’ve searched the Scriptures, and I’ve never seen the word ‘retirement,’” Larry says. “There’s just this thing about trying to make your life count for something. I think I want to be more like Paul and finish strong.”

To learn more about becoming a strategy coordinator church in South America, go to takingit2the edge.org/SCCP.htm. For other areas of the world, contact the International Mission Board at (800) 999-3113 or go to imb.org and inquire about a particular world region.

Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provide vital support to the International Mission Board’s more than 5,300 missionaries worldwide, including the Jacksons. To give, go to imb.org/offering.