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Many of you have known Bob & Shirley Woodson for many years because of Westminster's support of their work in Peru for decades. These are two unsung heroes of the faith who have left the field, relocated to Atlanta, GA and will “officially” retire the end of this month. However, they will not cease from serving the Lord in any way He may wish to use them. We thought that you would like to read Bob’s heartfelt letter that follows.
-Gary R. Cox
On October 14th, with sadness and thankful hearts, Shirley and I left our ministry in Peru, flying from Lima to Atlanta. Before we left, there were many tearful farewells. Our brothers and sisters in Christ invited us to delicious meals and testified what we had meant to them. Some had been saved through our ministry while others had been trained for Christian living and leadership. One retired dentist from Cusco told how we had saved his life! We had actually forgotten about the time we ran around Cusco from hospitals to pharmacies trying to find the necessary medical supplies which, thankfully, the Lord provided, and the operation was successfully completed.
The Peruvian believers were also most helpful to us in all the preparations for leaving. They helped us to organize and sort through belongings, deciding what items to sell and give away. Maria Reyes lived with us for over a week to help Shirley go through our photos, CDs, documents, etc. We hired a shipping company to pack and ship the things we’ll be bringing to the U.S. As soon as we find a house, we’ll telephone them to ship our belongings.
We were met at the Atlanta airport by our son-in-law, Mike Girage. While we get settled, we are living with him and Ellie. They and Kathy (our daughter) and Kent Julian, are helping us to get settled, recommending a fine realtor to help us find the right home to buy and suggesting places to buy furniture; helping us find a good mechanic, dentist, doctor; and getting us set up with phone and internet service. The MTW office staff is helping us with various matters such as signing up for Medicare. In short, we are going through a reverse cultural adjustment.
CONVERSIONS – What have you received by sending us out in April 1964? Literally thousands have heard the gospel by way of preaching, films, Bible studies, and one-on-one witnessing. Like Ezekiel we have been conscious of our duty to be faithful watchmen to the unsaved, warning them that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. One of our saddest experiences has been to see many turn away from Jesus as their Savior and Lord. On the positive side we have seen literally hundreds come to saving faith in Christ. They are enjoying the abundant life of walking with God and receiving His blessings, both spiritual and physical. During these 46 years we have been part of the great growth of the Church in Latin America. Just these last months a young woman and a husband and wife and adult daughter have come to personal faith in Christ in the Surco church.
LEADERS – God called me to prepare leaders for His Church. When the Rev. George Bragdon spoke to us as students at Covenant Seminary in 1959, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart to go to Peru. IN 1965 we had our first students come to the Bible Institute. Among them were Juan Orosco and Emilio Solier. Juan has served the Lord in churches in the jungle and in the mountains. As a ruling elder in the El Arco Church in Ayacucho, he sometimes preaches in the Quechua services and serves on the session. Whenever I went to Ayacucho, he let me stay in his hostel free of charge. Emilio likewise has served his Lord in the jungle and Huanta. Shirley taught children and young people in the Ayacucho Church years ago and now they in turn are teaching the new generation. Seeing these leaders serving the Lord has brought deep satisfaction to us. Our prayer is that the Lord will raise up many more and better leaders for both city and rural areas in Lima, the mountains, and the jungle.
THE FUTURE – FIRST, we want to thank you for your support of us over the years- praying for us, giving to our financial support, and just being there to encourage and show love to us and the Lord’s work when we have visited your churches. Thus we would like to visit you to thank you in the coming months. If you want us to visit your church, write us at our email address (COYLEWOODSON@GMAIL.COM) or in care of MTW. We want to tell you much more about the great things He has done. SECOND, I want to write a book about the 75 years of U.S. Presbyterian missionaries in Peru. Pray that God will guide me in this matter. THIRD, we would like to become active in a PCA Hispanic Church plant in Atlanta.
Finally, we shall be retired officially as of December 31, 2010. Please continue your giving to that date. After that we shall be off salary, but our account will remain open. We hope to make a ministry visit to Peru in the future and whatever is in the account will help pay for our travel expenses.
We would like to take this opportunity to suggest the following MTW missionaries to whom you might switch your support: Rev. and Mrs. Jim Ward who work in Lima with Mark Berry’s church-planting team, and also the Nathaniel Gutierrez family who are approved MTW missionaries scheduled to serve in Peru. His parents are Gerry and Ruth (Marshall) Gutierrez and his grandparents are Harry and Florence Marshall who served for 35 years in Huanta.