I wrote the following story several years ago as the testimony of Aldo Asto.Â IÂ changed the names back then to protect the innocent but he has been serving as a missionary for years now in Chile and God is really using him.Â I thought you might find it very interesting.Â He is your missionary of the week.Â
The Communist Terrorist that became a Baptist Preacher
The Juan Miguel Story
The names of our dear Christian brother and his family have been changed so that no harm or repercussions could come to him. The story is true.
He woke up to machine gun barrels staring him in the face even before the early dawn. It was the end of a very long part of Peruvian history â€œfor himâ€ and it would be the beginning of the road that would lead him to a new life. Juan Miguel was born and raised in Ayacucho, Peru (city of 500,000 with no Bible believing churches). The same city that became known as the birth place of Peruâ€™s Shining Path Terrorist organization.
In Juanâ€™s own words: â€œPeru was searching. She was hungry for some answers. There was a great emptiness inside. Many were suffering from deep poverty, hunger, and injustice. They needed an answer. Surely God was calling forth men to come and give the message just as He did when the Macedonian man ask for help in Paulâ€™s vision but very few answered the call. If Godâ€™s people wonâ€™t answer the call then often times Satan will answer and send one of his â€œpreachersâ€. Satan did just that. Abimael Guzman, from Arequipa, was a communist terrorist trained in the ways of Mao Se Tung.â€
Guzman arrived and began in Ayacucho teaching his false communist doctrine. Hundreds began to believe and to follow him. Juan still remembers that when he was 6 or 7 years old the militants of MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria or Movement of the Revolutionary Left) would hold their meetings in his house. As a little boy they gave him literature to read. They taught him materialism and communism. God was never mentioned. The only church they knew about was the Catholic church and it was very despised for all the wrong it had committed. Juan studied and learned how the rich imperialist and the Americans were taking advantage of everyone. He learned that to form a new and just society in Peru that they would have to destroy the one that now existed. Guzman had said when a shoe is old and no good you donâ€™t try to fix it. You just throw it away and buy another.
By the age of 12 Juan was actively involved in riots, strikes, and marches. He became an active member of the Peruvian Communist Party and the Shining Path. Soon he became a worker winning new folks for the party. He got his friends and neighbors involved.
Juan was trained in military maneuvers from the Old Testament book of Joshua. Juan was trained in how to â€œshare his new faithâ€. He was trained in how to agitate the people so that they too would desire a new government and society. Guzman had given a challenge to the young people of Peru. They could change their country. Their lives could make a difference. It wouldnâ€™t be easy and it wouldnâ€™t come fast but it was worth giving your life for. For several years violence was not a real part of their lives. First came the indoctrination or theory and later they would learn how to put it into practice. Juan studied great philosophers and talked into the night with â€œpolitical leadersâ€. He began to understand the problems that were facing Peru, or at least that is what he thought. He would give his life to do something about that.
Juanâ€™s dedication to the â€œcauseâ€ began to create problems in his family. He was always coming home so late due to the meetings and the activities that the party had planned. The â€œjust causeâ€ was so important to him that he soon moved out of his home. Juan thought that the cause was worth losing his family. He now says how wrong he was. If only someone had been there to tell him about Jesus. The party sent him off to â€œpreachâ€ their doctrine.
Sacrifice was not something new or nor was it too much to give for Juan. He began traveling in the villages up in the high Andes mountains of Peru, many times over 12,000 feet above sea level. He would go from town to town and stand on the street corners and tell the people how bad the Peruvian government was and what must be done. He would â€œagitateâ€ in Spanish and Quechua (the old Inca language that is still spoken in Peru).
Soon the armed conflict began. Violence became an active part of his life. He was totally sold out to violence and communism. It was at this time in his life that he took a solemn oath before the busts of Marx, Lenin, and Mao which were called the three swords of communism. He swore that he would never betray the communist doctrine.
Word got out to the government about what he was doing. Early that morning the soldiers had arrived at his house. They climbed across the traditional outer wall of the family property and before he knew it they were in the house and he was looking down the muzzle of several Uzzi machine guns.
Soon Juan was off to the local prison where he would spend the next 6 months of his life. He was suffering for the cause that he thought was so worthy. He was just doing his part. Later through the efforts of his family and other well placed Shining Path folks he was gotten out of prison. Since he was underage he did not yet have the Peruvian identification document. His documents were fixed (doctored). He was free once again.
After getting out of jail he became even more involved in the party and was soon one of the elite of the â€œRed Armyâ€. First he was made a political leader in one of the platoons and then later the political leader of an entire company.
Once again Juan was a wanted man. He was hemmed up between the police and the army. He had no where to go. He was going through the most horrible hours, days, months and years of his life. He states speaking of this time: â€œOh how much I needed the Lord, but no one told me about Him.â€ He couldnâ€™t take it anymore. He knew that communism was not the answer. There had to be a better way.
At about the age of 18 Juan became involved with a young lady in Ayacucho. Her name was Juana. He quickly fell in love. Soon he began to live with her. Love began to change the way he felt about â€œthe causeâ€. He began to see that the ideology was different from the new practice of the movement. He wanted out.
Juana also had a hard time coping with all the violence. By now things had really gotten bad in Ayacucho. Often times they had to throw themselves on the floor as bullets literally flew over head. You never knew who to fear. The people were caught between the government forces, (both policemen and soldiers) and the guerrillas. Even after having accepted Christ Juana suffered emotionally for the trauma she had endured as a teenager in Ayacucho. Juanaâ€™s dad was a judge in Ayacucho. Many times the terrorist had entered their home to harass the family, go through their things, steal them, etc. They knew what it was to live under the very threat of death.
He and Juana left Ayacucho with the help of a pastor of the Peruvian Evangelical Church. This pastor had witnessed to him. He did not understand what was said but he never got away from one passage the pastor had read to him. That passage was Romans 3:10-11. â€œAs it is written there is none righteous no not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeks the Lord.â€ The pastor helped him move to Cuzco where he stayed in the Assemblies of God church. He couldnâ€™t square what he was taught with what he knew from before. Soon he left the church and moved on. They moved from place to place in Peru. Often asking for lodging in the different churches in Peru.
Guzman had taught them to fear â€œreal Christiansâ€. He had told them that the Christians were dangerous and were the only ones who could not be convinced. They must be left alone or killed. You should never get involved in a conversation with them. Never try to convince them. As Juan moved from place to place and stayed in different churches he looked for answers. He knew what real dedication was. He knew a real believer when he saw him. They were hard to find, even in the churches.
Years passed. He arrived finally in the city of Arequipa. (Arequipa is a city of over 1,000,000 and is known as the â€œRome of South Americaâ€ due to the fact that it is so strongly and traditionally Catholic). He was able to get a building lot in one of the shanty towns on the outside of the city and build a small â€œshackâ€ for his family. He still wasnâ€™t married but he and Juana had been living together now for 6 or 7 years. They had 2 small children, Juanita and Juancito. Living together in Peru is not at all uncommon, due to the high cost of the government paperwork and then the Catholic church wedding. Juan was working for one of the local bus lines that travels all over Peru. Juanaâ€™s family members had helped him to get the job.
Often Juan would receive visits from his brother and other family members who were Pentecostals. They would tell him what they believed. For some reason it just didnâ€™t add up for Juan. He wanted to see their pastor so that he could really understand. Three different times they made appointments. Each time the pastor failed to arrive. Juan was discouraged.
One day someone left a gospel tract on the counter where he worked. He read and reread the tract. He wanted to know more. The tract had the address of a â€œBaptistâ€ church on it. Juan wanted someone to explain the tract to him but where would he go. His daughter was studying in the Seventh Day Adventist school. She kept pushing him to go to church because the teachers wanted them to bring their parents. Juan said well if I go I am going to go to one of those baptist churches and learn more about that tract.
Each day as Juan took the bus home from work he passed the Hunter Baptist Church. That big blue sign said Baptist church and also said â€œYe shall know the truth and the truth shall make you freeâ€. He wanted to know about that. Since Juanita was pushing so much for him to go to church he mentioned it to his wife, Juana. She said she was not interested and was never going to go. To get Juanita off of his back Juan decided to go to church. He took Juanita and went to the Hunter Baptist church. He was embarrassed and did not want to go in. When he got to church the young men at the door tried to get him to go on in. He said no that he would just listen from the door. He liked what he heard. He decided to tell Juana and see what she would say. He went back the next Sunday. The pastor was preaching through the book of Joshua. He understood the book very well from a military point of view. After all it was the book that they had used to learn how to attack cities and how to do ambushes etc. He was very interested. Soon he made a decision to accept Christ. He invited Juana who had said she would never go. Juana was fed up with religion. She had seen the Catholics, the Pentecostals, the seventh day adventist and they didnâ€™t have the answers for her. When Juan returned from church he found that Juana had the Bible in her hand but it was only so that she could argue with the Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses that had come to her house. Something had happened. That night Juana accepted Christ as her personal savior. Now when he didnâ€™t feel like going Juana wanted to go. They began attending faithfully but no one knew their story.
Soon Juan became very impressed that people were willing to give their all for the cause. They wanted to change the world by taking Jesus to them. There was hope. There were answers to all of his questions. He finally saw what he had wanted so long. He asked if he could study in the Bible school to learn more. The answer was no. He was not married but living in adultery. He also had lots of weird ideas and Pentecostal theology that he had learned from his brother and the books he had been given to read.
Juan insisted that he be given the chance to study. He would do whatever it took. He had to know more. Soon he was married at city hall. He began studying the Bible.
God took his job from him. He didnâ€™t know what to do. He enrolled in the Bible school and dedicated all of his morning hours to the study of Gods word. How would his family eat. He was hungry and discouraged. He decided to give it all up and go get a good job and forget preaching. It wasnâ€™t worth it. As he prayed and thought God impressed him to pay the price. He did.
Here are his own words from a letter he wrote to his pastor:
â€œThree years ago when the Lord was calling me to preach we were going through some very difficult times in my family. My wife became sick. My children also got sick. Juancito even got to the point that he had convulsions along with a high fever for a few minutes. I feared the worst. I had no money because I had been laid off from my job. I began to sell jams and jellies from door to door after getting out of Bible classes. Usually I could only sell one or two a day. Some of the folks that went to the church when they saw what was happening they wanted to encourage me and said â€œwhy do you want to get into the ministry, what is going to happen to your family.â€ One afternoon after having gone out to sell the jam and jelly, my daughter, Juanita and I had gone block after block and not sold anything. I sat down in a park and began to cry uncontrollably because of such a difficult time that I was going through. While I was in the middle of these problems my sister in law arrived and offered to help me get a job in the city hall of Arequipa. Since my wife was so sick I decided to accept this offer. When I decided this my heart began to burn. I felt in the deepest part of my heart every message and preaching by which God had spoken to me specially through you. The message that was on my heart was Bloody Hands from Ezekiel 3 and 33. This message and other rang out in my ears, my heart and the deepest part of my being. One Thursday night in 1992 when I heard that message it made me let go because it broke me and crushed my heart so deeply so that the only choice for my life was to preach His word in spite of my tragic past. Because once I began attending the church I could not feel peace. My conscience accused me. The Holy Spirit convicted me and showed me that my hands were full of the blood of many people, boys, girls, young people that because of my sin were suffering. I decided to preach the Word of God no matter what happened. God had used you to start a fire in my being and the depths of my soul that I still canâ€™t put out. An unquenchable flame that can never go out. For this reason I could not go back to the world. It was the word of God so pure the Bible so fresh that filled all of my being. The Holy Spirit that would not allow that I go back even one step. They were difficult moments but still sweet. Because I felt the presence of God in my life. A God in whom before I did not believe but this God so merciful had transformed my being using an American pastor called Austin Gardner. His love for that God and Jesus Christ was contagious. A pastor that came to this country full of hate, murder, terrorism, political instability, and problems. But he decided in his heart to stand on the word of God and destroy this myth. This fable that was called Peru a failing country. He called out a group of young men, discipled them and saw God do great things in this country. A God that heard prayers. The prayers of this pastor and this God brought terrorism to its knees and the economic problems etc also.
Soon Octavio Paredes felt God call him to be a missionary to Africa. To do that he was told that he should finish his studies, get experience in the ministry and prove himself. He felt that God was leading him to start a church and God directed him to the area where Juan lived. Octavio looked and looked for a place to rent. There were none. Juan began to help him look. They couldnâ€™t find anywhere and so Juan talked with his wife and together they decided to fix up a part of their place for the church. Octavio like the idea. Juan the terrorist now had a church in his house.
God began to bless. The church grew and so Octavio was instructed to find a place that could be bought and so they could establish the church in a stable manner. When Octavio told Juan and Juana what his plan was they were hurt. Canâ€™t you use our house. What have we done wrong. Octavio explained that they were doing great and that there was no problem but a church needed property of its own. Juana was deeply hurt. She wanted the church to be in their home. She suggested that they give their house to the church.
Octavio communicated the message to his pastor. His pastor being a North American was afraid that folks would think that they had taken his house. He told them no. They insisted. He instructed them to pray for three months and if they still wanted to give their house it would be accepted but it had to be their decision. There would be no pressure from the missionary, the pastor nor the church.
Three months passed and they were still convinced. Juan said
â€œI have taken much from my country. This is my opportunity to give something back. I sacrificed a lot more than this for terrorism and to destroy. How can I not give even more to my God who has saved me and given me life and hope.â€
Today the Baptist Church of Alto Alianza is the proud owner of what was once Juan and Juanaâ€™s home.
God is so good the story doesnâ€™t end there. God had called Juan to preach. His wife had been very sick due to all the dust where they lived. God opened the door for Juan to pastor a church. The missionary built a pastorium that was far better than the house that Juan had once had. He had given to God but God had given him back more than ever before.
Today Juan is a real blessing. He pastors the Baptist Church in Ampliacion Paucarpata. He is the president of the Macedonia International Baptist Mission which was formed by the pastors in Arequipa. God has now allowed Juan to preach in the mountains again and in Quechua to tell the â€œtruthâ€ this time. As president of the missionary organization Juan warns the folks.
If we do not send out missionaries of the truth Satan will. Jesus said to lift up your eyes to the harvest. Hear the cry of the Macedonian man, the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, the Peruvians, and millions around the world. If we donâ€™t hear their cry and answer them. Satan will. He has many Abimael Guzmans waiting to pervert and destroy.
Open your hearts. Give them to the Lord Jesus to carry his message. We have the answer that they so desperately need. What will you do?
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly [is] plenteous, but the labourers [are] few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matthew 9:36-38
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. John 4:35
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Acts 16:9