Buddy and Loren Fitzgerald

God’s work in us – Loren grew up in Long Island, New York, with parents who were nominally Christian. They divorced while she was still young and subsequently, stopped attending church. The Lord graciously brought the family back to a church and to Himself. Loren was saved at the age of 14 at a Christian camp. I grew up in the very different setting of Greenville, South Carolina in a good Christian home. Having attended Faith Baptist Church since I was born, I made a profession of faith at a young age, but was not actually saved until God got hold of my heart at the age of 18.

God ’s call – Loren and I were both called to missions during our teen years while on short-term missions trips. She was in Mexico, and I was in Puerto Rico. We both met people who had never before had an opportunity to hear the Gospel, and it was through this that the Lord burdened our hearts in a way that would not be realized until years later. We both followed His leading to attend Bob Jones University, where we met during our third year of school and were married after graduation in 2004. After graduation, Loren had the opportunity to impact many lives while teaching in a public school. I continued my schooling by earning a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Bob Jones Memorial Seminary in 2006. We were appointed with BWM in April 2006, and shortly after graduation, began our deputation travels. We praise God that we only spent one year on stateside ministry before moving to Peru.

God’s preparation – I was a missions major in college and interned in Peru, South America, with a wonderful missionary family, the Whatleys. After our wedding, Loren and I were eager to go to the mission field and spent the first two months of our marriage on a survey trip through the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Bolivia. We saw tremendous needs in every locale and were invited to stay to minister permanently in many of them. However, we did not sense God leading us to one specific place during this trip. We returned to the States with the assurance that He would give us guidance in His time. The decision to attend graduate school was difficult, yet definitely of the Lord. During this time of additional schooling, we were able to develop a closer walk with the Lord, deepen our marriage, get involved in numerous ministries together, take several mission trips and pray fervently regarding God’s will for our future.

God’s place of service – We were praying for several years about where God wanted us to serve Him, submitting to follow anywhere He led. Through His Word, an increasing burden for the people of Peru, spiritual authorities and numerous circumstances, God gave us a clear call to serve Him long-term in the country of Peru. During our first survey trip, we were able to spend the largest block of time working with a tribe in the jungle. In a meeting of the village elders, the people decided what kinds of things they wanted to learn from us. The list included such things as agriculture, business, local government and possibly, a little religion also. We were saddened to see the blindness in their hearts and the lack of hunger for spiritual realities, but rejoiced in the opportunity to preach our great Savior! We started the first service at five a.m. daily and did not finish teaching until five or six p.m. Loren and I were very thankful during this time that God had given both of us the ability to speak Spanish. We saw the need, however, to learn a tribe’s first language.

We arrived in August 2007, and spent about 18 months working with veteran missionaries in the Cusco area while learning the culture, honing our language, and making trips to various tribes to whom we could minister before making our way into the jungle to live and work. Our oldest, Joseph, was born in November 2008, and January 2009, saw us moving to the jungle area of Puerto Maldonado. At the time, that was about 24 hours of driving over rough roads. Thankfully, it has been fully paved now, and the trip can normally be made in about 10 hours. We began by helping a small Baptist work on the edge of town, but God quickly led us to begin a church plant in the center of town. Grace Evangelical Baptist Church started in our living room on July 12, 2009. God blessed us with a team of six to begin with. There were four Peruvians from very different areas of Peru, along with us. After a few years, God directed them all to new ministries in other areas and then gave us another team. However, He has redirected them again. At this point, we are still praying about a Peruvian team and a long-term pastor. Our goal continues to be tribal church planting, especially among the unreached. Once we target a specific tribe, we plan to learn their language as quickly as possible, while building relationships and discipling men to Christ. Our long-term goal is to plant churches and train leaders to pastor so that we might move forward to repeat the process elsewhere.