27 Dec 2013

Vilcabamba Landslide

We've been watching over the last few days as the BBC have reported on the storms hitting Britain at the moment. We hope that none of you are too badly affected and that you manage to stay safe through it all.

Here in Peru we've not yet seen the massive flooding of previous years, although rainy season is only just getting underway. Despite this, last week we heard of a small community where some of our clinic patients live who have been affected by landslides caused by the rain.

It seems that as part of the government construction of a new road to Paucartambo, a load of rubble, stones and mud were dumped at the side of the road. After a period of particularly heavy rain, this was all washed down into an already overflowing river, which in turn dumped it in the 'chacras' (small fields) of a number of local farmers. This has destroyed a lot of maize which would have been ready for harvest in April, and on which many of the locals rely for their basic diet.

Vilcabamba Landslide from J Henley on Vimeo.

In theory the government should pay compensation, but as so often in Peru, persuading them to hand over the money could be easier said than done! We are keeping in contact with the community to see if or how we might be able to help out. In the meantime, please keep all those affected in your prayers. Most of them simply don't have the contingency funds to allow for setbacks like this, so the future is very uncertain.

26 Dec 2013

Deck the halls with boxes and bubble wrap...

As I write this, 'Boxing day' (a very British tradition!) has come to an end, Katie is tucked up in bed and we are grateful for a lovely Christmas.

It was always going to be a slightly strange Christmas, as we have moved out of our house and into our colleagues house in preparation for leaving in just a few weeks.  Most of our things are in boxes or should be in boxes by now, but we are grateful for the hospitality of the Williamson family for lending us their home and Christmas decorations whilst they are in the UK for home assignment.

Strangely too, this was our first Christmas day on our own, as in the past we have always shared the day with family.  This could have felt a little sad, but actually we had a wonderful time, espeically as it was Katie's first Christmas and sharing the day with her (even though she knew very little about it) was a real treat.

Thank you for your prayers and messages - it was great to know that we weren't forgotten. Happy (belated) Christmas to you all.  We pray that your Christmas was full of joy and wonder wherever and however you celebrated this year.

16 Dec 2013

December Prayer Letter

Our December prayer letter is now available on the BMS website. As you will see, it contains some pretty big news about a decision we've taken to return to the UK permanently in February 2014. This has not been an easy process as we've tried to discern what God wants for us, but feel that at the moment it is the right decision for us as a family.

As always thank you for all your prayers and support. We are very appreciative of all the support we've had from BMS over these last few years and also to you all for your ongoing love, prayers, encouragement and parcels.

15 Dec 2013

Huambutio Chocolatada

Today was the annual chocolatada in Huambutio - a traditional community event for Christmas with singing, drama, a short message and finally hot chocolate, sweet bread for everyone and presents for all the children.

The whole of El Puente Church got involved, and especially the youth group, who led the singing and the drama. It was a great day (only slightly hampered by a power cut!) and a great chance to bless the local community. Many thanks to everyone who was involved, and please pray for all those who came. It is a special privilege to be able to share something of the gift of Jesus' birth in a place where people have so little.

11 Dec 2013

Adult Workshops

Over the next couple of months we are involved in running a series of adult workshops at the clinic in Huambutio. These are covering a range of different themes, including hygiene, nutrition, physical health, child care, baby stimulation and much more.

So far, numbers are growing each week and we hope that these workshops can be a valuable resource for the community and can grow into something much bigger. Please pray for the whole team who are involved in leading and running the sessions - that we would have wisdom and clarity as we try and share with people.

5 Dec 2013

Nauta Training Centre

Last week we had the privilege of being part of the teaching team at the Nauta Training Centre; started by a group of local pastors along with our colleagues Gill Thurgood and Harland Rivas, mission workers with BMS in Loreto.

Nauta is about an hour and a half from the city of Iquitos, in north eastern Peru.It is situated on the river MaraƱon, which feeds into the Amazon just a few minutes up river.Here amongst the network of rivers and tributaries are huge numbers of small communities, accessible only by boat and often very poor. The Nauta Training Centre exists to provide local Pastors and church leaders of these river communities with a basic theological education, but also a support network and training in community development and skills such as first aid.Each training event lasts about a week and takes place six times a year.It is a huge sacrifice for those who attend as many have to miss out on paid employment and travel up to 10 hours to be there.And yet for many, it is the only training they have ever been offered.It is not unusual for people in these communities to have only the basics of a primary education and no opportunity for further study.

James taught a course on Integral Mission, Julia taught on the book of Romans and Katie enjoyed meeting many new friends.Despite the heat and humidity, which after the cold dry mountain climate of Cusco was quite a shock especially to Katie, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Pastors who had gathered for this month's teaching and to learn a little of what life is like for them. We were struck by their humility and their welcome to us and we were humbled to hear of their faithfulness and perseverance as they pastor in often very difficult circumstances.

This was the last training event of the year, so at the end of the week there was a graduation ceremony for those who had attended enough sessions. It was great to celebrate with them and to pray for God's blessing on them as they continue to serve him in ministry.

Please join us in giving thanks for the Nauta Training Centre as it continues to resource the river communities and please pray for the students as they begin to put into practice all that they learnt last week. Please pray too for our colleagues Gill and Harland and also Laura Lee Lovering as they serve with BMS in Loreto.

17 Nov 2013

Home Assignment 2014

Due to recent changes in the UK tax law, our plans for our next home assignment have changed, meaning that we're now going to be back in the UK in early 2014. If you would like to book us to come and visit you, please visit our page on the BMS website - http://www.bmsworldmission.org/jjhenley - and follow the links to book a speaker. Unfortunately we can't guarantee this time that we'll all be able to come to every visit, as it's a lot of travelling for Katie, but we'll do our best!

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible, but in the meantime here's a photo from last night's storm over Cusco...

16 Oct 2013

October Prayer Letter

Our latest BMS prayer letter can now be viewed here. As always, thank you so much for your prayers.


18 Sep 2013

A Presidential Visit!

This weekend we were privileged to welcome Pastor Domingo Juarez Juarez to stay with us in our home.  He is the President of the Evangelical Baptist Convention (CEBP) here in Peru.

He visited our projects with us and shared a little with the folk that we met.  He also did a great job playing with Katie!

It was great to get to know him better and come to understand a bit more of how our work fits into the bigger picture.

Please pray for him as he has the unenviable task of leading an organisation of over 200 churches spread over a huge and varied country, as well leading his own church in Ayacucho. He is a busy man!

Pastor Domingo with the Puma family after our Bible study in Yucay.

1 Sep 2013

End of a chapter

Many of you will have been following our progress with the group in Calca. We were asked to help lead the group at the end of September last year and have been working alongside Hermana (Sister) Julia since then as she faithfully evangelises and serves her community.

21 Aug 2013


The last few months have seen some pretty big changes for us - a new baby, a new car, moving house etc... As you can imagine, this has often been quite stressful, but it's also been a good opportunity to re-assess our work and ministry here and try and discern where we should be focusing our time and energy.

Alongside the work we're doing in Calca and Yucay, we've also decided to start working in a small town called Huambutio, which is about 30 minutes outside Cusco. Our colleagues Scott and Anjanette have been working in Huambutio for a couple of years now, and last year opened a clinic in the town, which runs one day a week. They have now seen over 200 patients and are beginning to build up good relationships in the community.

10 Aug 2013

Yucay Paseo

Many of you will know that for the past year we've been holding weekly English classes for children in the village of Yucay. The class has been growing steadily and we now have 10-15 children who come regularly. The children are on school holidays at the moment and we wanted to do something a little bit different with them, so yesterday we took them out on a half-day 'paseo' - a walk in the countryside followed by games and food.

5 Aug 2013

Bible Study in Yucay (at last!)

Yesterday afternoon Julia led our first Bible Study in the village of Yucay in the Sacred Valley.  We have been waiting, hoping and praying to start a meeting there for over a year now and so it was great to finally have a beginning.

10 Jul 2013

July Prayer Letter

Our prayer letter for July 2013 is now available on the BMS web site. You can read it by clicking here.

As always many thanks for all your prayers!

25 Jun 2013

Inti Raymi

Amongst the extensive pantheon of Incan deities, the sun (Inti) held a place of special significance. It was venerated for being the source of light and heat, and sacrifices were routinely offered to it to try and ensure a bountiful harvest. In addition, the Inca ruler could claim a direct genealogical to the Creator Wiraqocha through the sun, since the Creator fathered Inti who in turn sired the king.

13 Jun 2013

Pink Paint...

After far too long a time of quiet on our blog, it’s time to update you all on what’s been happening for us. Apologies for being so slow to keep in touch. Hopefully the following will explain that we’ve been rather busy!

22 May 2013


Well, it doesn’t seem possible that we’ve been back in Peru for seven weeks. We’ve been so busy with sorting out the house, keeping fleas at bay and getting back into our work, as well as looking after Katie and ourselves, that the time has flown by.  Thanks so much to those of you who have been praying for us.  We are so grateful, even though we’ve been slow to update you with news just recently.

9 Apr 2013

April News

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach,
because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.
- Frederick Buechner

Well we're back! After what seemed like a mammoth journey (especially with a three month old baby) we're finally back in Urubamba and slowly settling into the house again. Many thanks to all of you who were praying for the journey and also for the smiting of the fleas which we'd been told were in the house. We're delighted to be able to announce that so far we haven't had a single bite, so we're optimistic that they're not going to be too much of a problem this year!

12 Mar 2013

Peru Video

Our Link visits are all finished now and, despite a lot of travelling, have been great. It's been lovely to see familiar faces again, to catch up with people, and to be able to share some of what God is doing in Peru.

10 Mar 2013

In For The Long Run

The BMS Disaster Recovery Fund is aimed specifically at helping communities in the wake of disasters, but with a focus on long term recovery rather than immediate relief. This might mean paying for trauma counselling, rebuilding businesses or replanting crops. BMS works with local partners, directly supporting people who are on-the-ground and understand the situation. For more information or to order resources focussed on the Disaster Recovery Fund to use in your church, please click here.

Baptist Minister and friend of ours Paul Smethurst is raising money for the BMS Disaster Recovery Fund by running the Milton Keynes marathon in May this year. As he trains, he is recording short video journals of his progress and some of his thoughts along the way. You can see the first of those videos below.

Please do consider sponsoring Paul as he takes on this challenge. For more information and to donate online visit his page at Virgin Money Giving.

8 Mar 2013

Women, Justice & Equality Pt. 2: Maria

Following on from the last post on Women, Justice & Equality, we are increasingly convinced that part of our role in Peru is to be seeking to address the problem of domestic and family violence.

Our first face to face encounter with this issue came late one night last July, when there was a loud banging on our front door. We opened it to find one of our neighbours, Maria*, and two of her daughters (2 & 8). She looked terrified, and explained through tears that her husband had come home drunk and was trying to kill her. She had fled through the gardens until finally she arrived at our house, and wanted to know if she could hide in our garden.We insisted that she come into the house rather than stay outside, and after blacking out the windows and giving them some food (she said they hadn't eaten for three days because her husband had spent all the money on alcohol), were able to hear a bit more of her story.

She told us that her husband had been beating her up for around ten years. She had been to the police several times to report him, but each time he bought the local policemen a bottle of beer or a plate of food and the evidence against him mysteriously 'disappeared'. Her husband had said she could leave if she wanted, but that their six children would have to stay with him. At the same time she had very few options of places to go - families tend to live in close knit communities, so her whole world was contained within a a couple of hundred square metres. As she spoke she was determined that this time she was going to get justice, and told us that this time she was going to the local judge to present her case there. As far as we know this never happened; after staying the night with us her and the children slipped away quietly the next morning, straight back to her husband.

Subsequent conversations with others in the area have helped us to realise that Maria is by no means alone. Government statistics from 2004 estimate that around 1 million women in Peru are the victims of violence every year. In addition there are approximately 9 deaths per month as a result of feminicide - the murder of women in conditions of gender-based discrimination or violence. The exact numbers of women affected are hard to come by, as a considerable proportion of cases are never reported.

Women do have rights in Peru, and the government are trying hard to see an end to this violence. However for many women, like Maria, the justice which is due to them is simply inaccessible. This is due in part to a lack of funds or corruption in the police, but also due to the complete disempowerment of many women in Peruvian society, particularly in rural areas. A government survey revealed that many women do not report violence against them because they think it is unnecessary, they are ashamed, they don't know where to go, they are scared of further violence, they think it is the woman's fault, or because they simply cannot see it making any difference. Many are resigned to the fact that this is the way life is; something to be endured as part of what it means to be a woman.

We're not sure what, if any, difference we can make in the lives of these women, but please pray for Maria and the many women like her. Please pray also for us as we return to Peru and begin the process of research and trying to work out what can be done.

*Name changed to protect privacy

Women, Justice & Equality Pt. 1

Today is International Women's Day 2013, which this year coincides with the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The priority theme of the session is the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, prompted by the needs of millions of women around the world who suffer from abuse and rape on a daily basis and have little or no legal rights or protection.

BMS have been working for some years to improve the position of women around the world; from rescuing women trafficked into the sex industry in Thailand and promoting maternal health with life-giving results in Afghanistan, to advocating on behalf of women and girls vulnerable to abuse in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Nepal. This week they are asking people to join with them in praying:

For the CSW conference starting on 4 March, that the conclusions reached and decisions made would further the cause of equality and improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
For changes in the hearts and minds of men around the world and in our own country, so that prejudice, discrimination and misogyny of all forms would be eradicated.
For women and girls to be safer and more empowered to enjoy life in all its fullness in the future than they are today.
For all the BMS projects and ministries working to improve conditions for women around the world.

20 Feb 2013

Flooding in Ollantaytambo

The rainy season in Peru has once again been very heavy this year. This morning we heard from a friend in Urubamba that the River Patacancha has burst its banks and destroyed a number of homes in Ollantaytambo (about 25 mins from our house).

1 Jan 2013

Katie Grace Henley

It gives us huge pleasure to announce that Katie Grace Henley was safely born today at 9.37pm weighing 6lb 10oz. Her and Julia are both well, and she's absolutely gorgeous!

We'll put some more pictures up a bit later, but for now thanks to all of who who have been praying and waiting.