By: Shantal Artieda
For Peruvians, October 8th is a national holiday in remembrance of the famous naval battle of Angamos fought in 1879 against the Chileans. Families take a break from life’s daily hassles to enjoy parades, naval reenactments and other interesting activities. For the past fifteen years, BCM Peru has celebrated the holiday by inviting area churches and families to a recreational fun-filled Feria Familiar, or Family Fair, at BCM’s Lima Campus. Every year turnout has surpassed expectations, and October 8, 2015, was no exception with nearly six hundred adults and children in attendance.
Visitors began arriving by 9 AM and headed immediately to test their skills and abilities at various carnival games set up around the grounds. Fourteen different stands included such games as the duck pond, balloon and darts, cross bow shoot, penalty kick, and the very popular “splash the clown”. Families enjoyed playing together to earn points, which they could then exchange them for prizes.
Attendees were also able to enjoy some delicious meals and treats from our famous Peruvian cuisine. Among the most popular were dishes from Peru´s jungle region—juanes, a rice and chicken cooked inside a bijao (jungle palm) leaf, and tacacho con alita, plantains and charcoal-grilled pork formed into a ball with a delicious chicken wing (alita). From our coastal region was served a traditional Peruvian favorite, ceviche, raw fish marinated in fresh-squeezed citrus juices and spices. Another hit this year was the yard sale or flea market, which provided clothes, shoes and home artefacts for people to purchase at very reasonable prices.
However, the purpose of this annual Feria Familiar is not just to provide a recreational fun day for the entire family. Nor is it meant to be a fundraiser. The main objective for inviting area churches that work alongside BCM Peru throughout the year is to help the local Christian community recognize children as a mission field, a people group that needs to be reached. Three core beliefs of BCM Peru are:
• children can and should know Jesus as their Savior.
• children can and should live sanctified lives that glorify their heavenly Father.
• children can and should serve God with their gifts and abilities.
The purpose ultimately is to have people realize the importance of children in the Kingdom of God. As famous author C.S. Lewis puts it: “Children are not a distraction from more important work; they are the most important work.”
In order to share this important message, BCM Peru missionaries and Bible seminary students from the Lima Campus prepare a special theatrical presentation for each Family Fair. This year’s colorfully entertaining and humorous play focused on the animals in Noah´s ark and the stress they had to go through in getting into the ark to survive the flood. Some of the bigger animals were eager to get into the ark first to ensure their own salvation, dismissing smaller animals as less important. But all the animals soon learned that even the smallest of them, in this case the pigeon, were just as valuable and could play a significant role in the ark. In this way, children and parents attending the fair were able to learn the importance that little ones have as part of the body of Christ. They also learned that salvation comes from trusting God just as Noah and his family had to trust God to save them from the flood.
The Family Fair was also a great opportunity to showcase how BCM Peru can come alongside local churches to help them in their efforts to reach their own communities. At a special ministry booth, pastors and families attending the fair were able to get information about eight different ministries BCM Peru has to offer. BCM missionaries manned the booth to provide information about our children´s ministries, training ministries and upcoming events. Visitors were able to learn how they could receive help from BCM or how they in turn could volunteer as a way to serve God.
Live music and special mini-shows throughout the day maintained a festive atmosphere. The mini-shows demonstrated each of BCM’s diverse ministries. Children and their families were invited to participate while missionaries and volunteers showcased a little taste of what actually goes on every time they go out to do ministry.
Preparations for this exciting day began two full months in advance in order to prepare the Lima Campus for so many people, not to mention all the food, fair games, play rehearsals and other special presentations. Even some of our BCM Peru missionary kids participated. What a great blessing to have them using their talents to serve the Lord, demonstrating exactly the Bible truth the theatrical presentation was meant to teach.
In the end all the hard work paid off as objectives were fulfilled. Many children were able to learn more about God. Christian families spent a fun holiday together. Local churches from around Lima left better informed as to the aid BCM Peru could provide to their own ministries.
BCM Peru Director Jonatan Odicio sums up, “Our objective for BCM Peru is to be a family that serves the local churches and helps them be the best God wants them to be.”[hr]
Originally Published in BCM World December 2015