The Anglican youth ministry in our churches throughout Peru serves nearly 300 teenagers (“adolesentes,” ages 12 to 17) and young adults (“jovenes,” ages 17 to 25). A bold vision directs the ministry:
Young people and youth leaders connected to Jesus, the true vine, bearing abundant fruit.
This vision is scripture based:
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
It captures the ministry’s dual goals of: (1) helping the youth mature their faith and strengthen their connection to Jesus and (2) teaching the youth to live out their faith by serving others and making God-honoring moral choices.
In a country where a third of the population is under the age of 25, the youth ministry seeks to reach people at the critical stage where they’re making life-defining decisions about faith and everyday actions. This year, its emphasis is on very practical issues the youth will face within their families and dating relationships and the pressures of worldly influences.
Lizbeth Varillas is the coordinator of the youth ministry at the diocesan level. Lizbeth grew up in the Anglican church of Peru, as her father Misael is one of our longest-serving priests. She has a heart for reaching children and youth for Jesus! Educated as a primary-school teacher, she began her work for the church as director of Compassion International’s early-childhood stimulation program at one of our Lima missions. Since assuming the leadership of our youth ministry, Lizbeth has helped sharpen its vision and works tirelessly to support local youth leaders in our churches.
Full-time U.K. missionary Paul Tester assists Lizbeth. A mission partner with the Church Mission Society, Paul and his wife Sarah have been serving in Peru for seven years. Paul is a civil engineer who is currently studying for an MA in Youth Ministry and Theology. He shares the vision for the church to be passionate about young people connecting with Jesus and to see those young people mature and bear fruit.
Deacon Rachel Hill is the chaplain to the youth ministry. Together with her husband Allen, she has served in Peru for more than a decade as a full-time missionary with SAMS (Society for Anglican Missionaries and Senders). Rachel’s father, William Godfrey, is the current Bishop of Peru, and Rachel shares his love for the church and for the people of Peru.
As in the States and the U.K., an overarching goal of our diocesan youth leaders is to encourage the local churches to raise up youth leaders from their congregations. During a recent weekend retreat with the theme “Leaders under Construction,” the diocese provided training to youth from churches all over Peru who had been identified as potential leaders.
Student interns work with the youth ministry as well. And a regional director of the southern region of Peru–newly ordained priest Victor Condori Chipana–has been appointed, adding depth and strength to this invaluable ministry.