Editor’s note: In September, Quechua Benefit, Indiana UM-related Children of Abraham and Missionary Association Working for a World Without Hunger, joined forces to load a 40-foot container full of medical and other supplies for the Casa Chapi Children’s Village that Quechua Benefit is building in Chivay, Peru. This is the story of what miraculous things can happen when we say “yes” to God. Writer Angie Kidd is in Peru as Together goes to press.
High in the Andes Mountains in South America in 1996, one man asked another man a simple question, “Will you help my people?” The man could have answered that the job was too big or that he lived too far away or that he just did not have the time, but instead, the man said, “Yes.”
The man who asked was Don Julio Barreda, an alpaca farmer from Peru. The man who said yes was Mike Safley, an alpaca farmer from the United States. From that one simple question, a relationship was born that now helps thousands of Don Julio Barreda’s people every year. His people are the Quechua and the organization that Mike Safley founded in that one word “yes” is Quechua Benefit. This is the story of how powerful “yes” can be when spoken from the heart.
I first encountered Quechua Benefit in 2007, while traveling in Peru with Wheels for the World. I am an occupational therapy practitioner by vocation and an alpaca owner for fun. The opportunity to take my therapy skills into the mission field, especially a field full of alpacas, was a fairly easy “yes” to say. I had never travelled for mission before, but it only took once with the Wheels for the World Arequipa team to fall in love with the experience. I spent three amazing weeks in Peru that year with the mission and traveling on my own to attend the International Alpaca Fiesta. It was there that I learned of Quechua Benefit and the Quechua people.
The Quechua people are the native Peruvian Indians and they were the first domesticators of the alpaca. They are the foundation that alpaca owners all over the world stand upon today. Unfortunately, that foundation has crumbled for the Quechua people and they are now the “poorest of the poor” in Peru.
When Don Julio Barreda asked for help, Mike understood the relationship of the Quechua people to our current alpaca industry and his heart was opened to the Quechua people, especially the children. He has spent the past fifteen years building Quechua Benefit and today it supports a soup kitchen that feeds hundreds of people daily; a children’s village called Casa Chapi that is currently under construction to house up to 100 children ages five to fourteen; an orphanage that will house another 100 children; and medical missions that include dental, cataract and general medicine and more.
Mike is not the only one who said “yes.” The Revs. Byron and Candy Kaiser said “yes” to make the move to Ligonier to pastor our United Methodist church. Byron and his co-founders at UM-related Children of Abraham said “yes” to the development of a medical outreach that ships millions of dollars of supplies to other countries who are in great need.
The people at Missionary Association Working for a World Without Hunger said “yes” to starting an organization to assist with the transportation of goods into the country of Peru. The volunteers who work with all of these missions say “yes” every time they step up to get their hands busy for God.
In January 2008, Quechua Benefit announced the building of a medical clinic in the Casa Chapi Children’s Village. Because I knew of Children of Abraham from Pastor Byron, I contacted Quechua Benefit and asked another simple question.
“Would you like me to connect you with Children of Abraham to see if they can help to supply the equipment for the medical clinic?” Another “yes” happened and 20 months later on Sept. 17 of this year, a miraculous undertaking came to completion. It was an overwhelming day to see Children of Abraham, Quechua Benefit, Missionary Association Working for a World Without Hunger, alpaca owners and breeders and many other volunteers come together to load a forty-foot ocean-going container that hopefully has arrived in Peru carrying medical and other supplies for the children who will call Casa Chapi their home.
I am currently in Peru for the fourth time to work again with Wheels for the World and Quechua Benefit. This time, I will have the honor of leading a team to bring these two missions together to offer the gift of mobility along with the gift of the Gospel to the Quechua people in the Colca Canyon. I wonder what opportunities God will give me to say “yes” on this trip. Whatever they may be, I can assure you than with every yes to God, there are more blessings that I can put into words. Have you said “yes” lately?