Peruvian Bodegas

There are many aspects of Peruvian lifestyle that we miss when we are on furlough in the states. One of the things we miss most is the convenience of the local corner store. From our apartment in Lima, we can walk to more than a dozen tiny stores in just a couple of minutes. Most of these stores, called "Bodegas," are smaller than our bedroom, yet the walls are packed with grocery items, fresh produce, medications and toiletries. The prices are always lower than the larger chain stores and the service is usually friendly. There are an estimated 65,000 corner grocery stores in Peru making up 70 percent of the market. In 2010 more than 150 modern American-style grocery stores opened up in Peru. Still, the average Peruvian does most of their shopping in their little neighborhood bodega. As missionaries we can learn from the success of these corner stores.

The stores are popular for several reasons: First, they offer what people are looking for. They typically only stock the most common items making shopping quick and efficient. In a similar way, we try to limit our church programs, only offering ministries that will impact lives for eternity. All of our programs are Bible-based and are designed to help people come to a saving knowledge of Christ and then grow in their walk with Him. We limit what we offer so that we can concentrate on the things that matter the most! (Evangelism and Discipleship)

Second, the stores are very convenient. Peruvians don't like to go far from home. Peruvians aren't going to travel far to visit a church. Some families rarely ever leave their own neighborhood. As church-planters it's important for us to notice this part of the culture. To be successful we'll need to start churches in nearly every neighborhood. For now, we focus all of our outreach in the tiny area just around our church. Lima may have nearly 10 million residents, but we concentrate our efforts in Viña Alta with its 4000 residents. When the work is done in Viña Alta, we'll take a few faithful church members with us to the next neighborhood where we'll begin reaching the next area with the Gospel. It works with corner stores and it will work for church-planters! We have to focus close-to-home.

Finally, its easy to see that the corner stores
are the center of social life in Peru. People gather in the stores to chat and discuss daily life. They post important notices in the stores. Peruvians visit the corner stores several times, every day. It's the place they run to if they have a need. Studies show that the average Peruvian enters the corner store several times everyday. If only Christians were so faithful to their church! As a church we'd like to become the center of social-life for new believers. When life brings along challenges, we hope to show new Christians how they can turn to God's Word and find all they need for successful living. They can share their burdens with other believers and find hope in the church as we all grow together.

We're not planning to start a corner store. But, we are starting churches that will impact lives not only for a day but for eternity! Imagine how Peru would be transformed if there were 65,000 corner churches?