Appleton Alliance Church (AAC) and Cono Norte Callao (CNC) have had a sister-church partnership for nearly 20 years. With a network of over nine campuses in zones throughout Lima, CNC has a church family similar in size to Appleton Alliance. Twenty-two years ago, Pastor Antonio Rojas started CNC and now has a vision to add churches in seven more zones around Lima and an additional seven churches throughout Peru by 2025. In spite of the language and cultural differences, there are many similarities between our two churches.
Families and children are important priorities for both Cono Norte Callao and Appleton Alliance. CNC has a dynamic ministry of restoring families and reaching out to children through their Mighty Hearts ministry. AAC’s Discovery Land Global has had an important role in CNC’s ministry to children and families through curriculum translated into Spanish. One of the blessings that came out of virtual church services in both the U.S. and Lima was Discovery Land At Home. Each week, while families in the Fox Valley watch DL At Home, children in Lima can watch the Spanish TV version with their families as well.
During the most recent pandemic, it was necessary for our sister church to adapt to virtual church services. Because AAC was experiencing the same need, we were able to work with them and help with some resources to enhance their online church. Both of our churches have been able to reach more people as a result of virtual and live-streamed services.
AAC has sent many short-term mission teams to Peru over the years. In addition to the medical team, the Christmas team, and the men’s work team, we have also sent high school student teams, English camp teams, and women’s teams. This connection of AAC church members with CNC church members has resulted in some very special, long-standing relationships. This cross-cultural experience is a blessing to both church communities.
Ways we can pray for them:
- Protection for the volunteers who deliver groceries to families in need
- God’s provision of financial resources to continue their ministries
- Wisdom, strength, and emotional energy for the pastors and staff as they minister to and care for their church members
- Openness in communities around Lima to hear the Gospel
Task Force Teams
The Global Connections Ministry at AAC has a volunteer task force to stay connected to leaders in our sister church in Lima. The Peru task force members are Melissa Chi, Karna Cowles, and Doug Schact. In addition to maintaining contact with leaders in the church in Peru, they regularly meet with Pastor Mark Byrom at AAC to communicate news as well as needs from our sister church. Zoom meetings with Pastor Antonio in Peru and Pastor Mark at AAC are one of the highlights for the Peru Task Force.
Each of our Task Force members have been to Peru at least once on a mission trip. In June of 2019, Melissa was part of an AAC Medical Missions Team that worked alongside CNC’s Hope Clinic staff for the opening day of the clinic. They saw hundreds of children that week from some of the poorest regions of Lima. Melissa’s experience was impactful. She stated, “I got to meet many of the pastors and leaders of the zone churches, whom I had only seen in pictures previously.”
Karna and her husband, Rick, led a team to Lima in December 2019. This was not their first time to Peru nor their first time to go at Christmas. The purpose of this trip was to help CNC’s Mighty Hearts staff fill Christmas boxes for the children of Lima and then distribute the boxes on Christmas Eve. To prepare for the trip, many team members gathered children’s clothing and shoes by going to garage sales in the Fox Valley. When people heard about what they were doing, many donated items. Teams filled over ten suitcases with needed items. Distributing clothing can be a challenge, but Karna is happy to report that Mighty Hearts recently finished handing out all of the clothing the team had brought down.
In January of 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Doug was part of an AAC men’s work team that went to Peru. They worked alongside the men of CNC at a construction site. Pastor Antonio related how much this team of men traveling all the way from the U.S. impacted their church. The Peruvian men were so touched that it jumpstarted their desire to continue construction work and complete the roof that was needed.
Personal contact is key to keeping the connections going. All three task force members say that they stay in touch with the Peruvians they met while on their mission trips. Melissa’s contacts include CNC’s missions team driver, Alonzo; mission team chef, Margarita; worship leader, Lorena; and communications tech, Dudu. Karna’s main contact is Elizabeth who leads Mighty Hearts while Doug stays in touch with Pastor William and his wife, Yanet, from the Zone 8 church. Doug mentioned that they are excited to announce that God has blessed them with a much-desired pregnancy!
Covid-19 Impact on CNC
How has daily life changed for the CNC pastors, staff, and church members? Melissa acknowledged that life was difficult for many of them even before Covid-19, as they served long hours to provide food and the hope of the Gospel to impoverished people in their communities. After Covid-19, many people lost their jobs or were unable to work due to the quarantine restrictions.
Karna added that most Peruvians live on a day-to-day basis. They need to open their shop every single day in order to feed their families. CNC staff and volunteers have stepped up to help and are working with local food banks to provide groceries to the people most in need while following safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
Many families at CNC lost loved ones due to the Covid-19 virus. Hospitals were overcrowded, understaffed, and ill-equipped to see all the patients who came to their doors. AAC was able to help with some of the expenses related to caring for families during this time.
Melissa mentioned that she loves the enthusiasm of our Peruvian brothers and sisters. They creatively bring the Gospel to unreached neighbors and tirelessly provide for physical needs. In January, CNC/Mighty Hearts provided groceries for 122 families. On February 5th, there was a huge online conference to train children's leaders at CNC led by a speaker from Awana. God is on the move in Peru!
As in any good partnership, there is a two-way street of helping and learning from each other. As AAC continues to establish community congregations around the Fox Valley, we can learn from our friends at CNC who have been doing this for a few years now. And as we pray for them, we know that they are praying for us. Knowing AAC opened up to meet in-person in December, they have been praying for health and wisdom for our AAC leaders. They are also praying that our services will reach more people for the Gospel and that we can reach our neighbors to multiply the Kingdom.
Cono Norte Callao and Appleton Alliance have been blessing each other while pursuing similar visions and goals in ministry for twenty years. We look forward to what the next twenty years will bring!